So I come across an article today that really made me think. I didn’t like it at all so I am writing a public open response to the journalist, Sophie Heawood. The article can be see here
Dear Sophie Heawood,
Can I firstly start by saying thank you so much for you’re lovely article entitled “The interns generation must stop feeling sorry for itself”. I’m 24, so on behalf of aspiring young professionals, graduates, students, interns and young people all over this country I thought I would take time out of ‘feeling sorry for myself’ to drop you a short response.
Firstly let me say, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for the attitudes in your letter. My mother, whilst she didn’t have many opportunities or career success (clearly unlike yourself who has excelled given the distinguished publication in which you pen) used to always say, “John son, when you are faced with hostility, discrimination, or negativity, shower that person with love and let your values lead.” So that’s what I will do.
Sophie I RESPECT your opinions and VALUE your input to this topic, but I simply disagree. I also think the vast majority of evidence-based perspectives out there would disagree with your article. You shouldn’t trivialise some of the very serious matters you raise – such youth unemployment with 1 in 5 out of work, companies exploiting young people desperate to work via unfair internships, the ability of families to support young members, the benefits system and crucially intergenerational attitudes. Sadly I feel your article, which is squeezed full of popular culture references, ‘yoof’ chat and stereotypical assertions of youth activities really only serves to demonise young people and fails to understand the reality of the country today.
Sophie young people ARE getting a rough deal – especially those at the bottom of the heap. Surely highlighting injustice cant be dismissed as moaning? When you make light of young people struggling to find work or having crucial benefit support removed, I find it really unfortunate. I don’t have a degree. I come from a “socially excluded” area and grew up in a single parent workless household. Let me say I don’t feel sorry for myself. I am proud. I have been out working from the age of 14, earning my own way and contributing positively to society. I’ve been a community activist for a decade and helped set up an antipoverty charity at 15. I run the Youth Parliament by 19 and had left Edinburgh and was working in the big world of London earning my stripes by 21 despite what social stereotypes told me I would achieve. I have studied to better myself and contribute to society, I help my family and help thy neighbor and I respect my fellow citizen. My point here is I am typical of young people today, not the picture you paint. And this week I left my well-paid and secure job to set up my own social enterprise (Dare2lead.co.uk). A leap that I guess even most adults wouldn’t take (they are probably too busy feeling sorry for themselves stuck in a boring job, feeling under-valued or stuck in a predictable cycle of Agas, mortgages and bad public transport). But rather than write an article to humiliate these people my message is we should all support each other. We all deserve basic access to opportunity, a fair chance, employment and financial independence surely? My generation are not afforded these basic rights in my opinion. We are the invisible victims of a recession we didn’t cause. Nelson Mandela said “it falls upon a generation to be great…” – I truly believe we are that generation, and you as adults should help us prove that. The beauty of young people is our political memories lie in the future, therefore we hold the unique capacity to redefine the norms that govern this world.
Rather than being a moaning, arts degree-bearing, TV binging creature as you suggest, I am simply an individual who wants to better myself, my family and the world around me. The truth is the vast majority of other young people are exactly the same. Maybe you should consider the position young people are in and the impact your article has on them. We are told to be seen and not heard, speak when spoken to and respect people purely based on age. Surely this isn’t right? The media make out we are root of all evil, we are a disposable commodity in the workplace and that we should simply accept any draconian social attitude or government policy bestowed upon us. Well not any longer. This is not only bad for young people but bad for all of us. If we want a sustainable economy, ethical political world and fairer society, then young people’s contributions and ideas must be central. Its about generational sustainability. Look in every community, the vast majority of young people are making positive contributions and I find it a shame the sum of your recent and apparently limited experience of young people are so negative and untypical.
Sophie please don’t help stereotype and patronise young people. It helps no one. Young people are Britain’s greatest natural asset and you as a journalist should be helping to unlock the potential of that resource. We aren’t moaning as you put it. We have basic aspirations and needs, and we should never be made to feel guilty for that. On the contrary. We MUST continue to highlight this generation inequity. We should continue to say NO to Cameron’s ridiculous benefits system, say NO to journalists that demonise us, say NO to the company bosses who exploit us and say NO to an increasingly elitist education system.
Young people and the country will only flourish when people stop pointing the finger and start lending a hand. If you still don’t agree – then – I’m proud to be a member of a moaning internship generation!
I wish you all the happiness and health for the future
John Loughton (24)
PS – None says “totes miffed” anymore