We'll have our vocational cake, and eat it too.

I recently sat through a lecture in which a university professor had the audacity to suggest that we weren’t all going to be CEOs by the age of 25; that everyone has to start at the bottom and work their way up; that we were in for many long years of slogging away at the dirty jobs no-one else wants to do. The nerve of the guy! If he wanted to engage in some public dream-shattering, he could at least make it constructive and go inform Katter and his cowboy hat that he’s a politician, not the main character from Toy Story (although I think the New York Times may have beat him to it...) 

Clearly this lecturer hasn’t heard the messages of Gen Y’s primary school teachers, careers counsellors, adoring parents and Disney movies, that dreams do come true. But he’s a professor, hasn’t he at least seen the statistics? Your average generation might be content with just one measly career path in a lifetime, but not Gen Y. We’re inspired enough to pursue fifteen. And hasn’t he noticed the masses of people enrolling in Arts degrees? A bit of faith in your own abilities is all it takes to prove that Arts is more than just a dead-end degree producing graduates with remarkable abilities to squeeze impressive quantities of adjectives into a single sentence and absolutely no employable skills. Sure, the same Arts students dreaming of becoming poets also see images of yachts and waterfront homes when they close their eyes. But as the door nob in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland so wisely put it, “nothing is impossible" if you set your mind to it. 

That’s not to say that motivational messages should come without their warnings. There are those whose fanatical dreaming is coming dangerously close to spoiling the fun for the rest of us. Was it really necessary for Miley Cyrus to attack our cinema screens after she had already made an admirable attempt at contaminating our radios and defiling our TV sets? And has she no mercy for the poor mothers looking-on in horror as their tweens wreathe themselves in items from her clothing line? 

Caught between Gen Z’s rorting the dreaming system, and a few prominent killjoys acting on behalf of the Baby Boomers (mining tax, anyone?), Gen Y is a shining example of dreaming done at it’s best. Just please, no-one tell Hamish and Andy about the whole “fifteen career paths in a lifetime” thing. Word is they’re planning on bidding adieu to radio in order to pursue TV, and I’m just not sure how I'd cope on the drive home without them... 

Disclaimer: This blog is in no way representative of the writing style of Arts students. It should not be taken as evidence that all Arts students unexceptionally possess remarkable abilities to squeeze impressive quantities of adjectives into a single sentence and absolutely no employable skills.

I lost my friend to Twighlight.

Last month was a difficult time for me. Not just because we realised we were actually going to be forced to choose between a dull prime minister or an overbearing one in a fast-approaching election; nor because John Farnham announced yet another final tour. Rather, it was the Australian release of Eclipse, the third film in the Twighlight saga, that drove this period of hardship home. 

Neither the pain inflicted by screams of swarming girls balanced precariously on the border between childhood and adolescence, nor the merciless blows dealt by Kristen Stewart’s attempt at acting could compare to the flood of painful memories the film brought rushing back into my life. For though Twighlight has robbed the magic from cinema, it has stolen something much more precious from me: a very dear friend.

It was after the release of Twilight that my friend first discovered that he looked like a vampire. It was after Robert Patterson came to Australia that he realised he could make this work in his favour: this pale kid who never smiled could pull chicks. From that moment everything changed. My friend’s clandestine missions to his sister’s bathroom cabinet to capture bottles of fake tan were abruptly aborted; he now wore his glow-in-the-dark skin with pride. The guy who had asked his sister to his high school formal was now perpetually surrounded by a gaggle of giggling tweens. And as his ego grew, so to did the height of his new bouffant hairstyle. 

Our friendship has never been the same. It’s kind of demoralizing being around someone who doesn’t laugh at your jokes because he believes the grimace is more becoming, and no fun at all entertaining a guest who spends the whole time hissing at your dog. 

I could comment on the irony of a generation that doesn’t have time for real-life romance obsessed with a fantastical story of forbidden love. Or the paradox of a generation of women who seem to have finally broken through that glass ceiling, whilst simultaneously tearing through books starring the ultimate damsel in distress. But really, I just want my friend back. Stephanie Meyer, give me back my friend. 


No you cannot ask me a quick question about my hair.

If one more flannelette-clad guy with a slight British accent and rugged good-looks approaches me outside the QVB with a question about my hair, I cannot be held responsible for my subsequent actions. “But your Honour, he was a promoter” should be a legitimate defence in court. Putting aside the frustration of seeing your bus drive past while some guy rattles on about honeycomb treatment technology, since when is it OK for a stranger to single you out on the street as needing a haircut?

These days there’s a promoter lurking around every corner, waiting to flash a dazzling smile that has us cheerfully gorging-out the contents of our wallets before we can re-assemble our mental faculties to remember what the movie Taken taught us about good-looking strangers. You can’t even trust your own friends anymore - they could betray you at any moment by bombarding your Facebook with an endless stream of messages about the Friday guest list at SOHO. Facebook will never be a haven of witty wall posts and casual stalking again, as you are now faced with the dilemma of whether your real-life friendship would survive if you were to block them in the cyber world. (Then again, should you really be that stressed over a friendship with a guy in his mid-twenties who frequents the same nightclubs as underage schoolgirls?)

No generation is more in need of liberation from this tyranny than our own. Since apparently Gen Y has greater spending power than any other, as well as the greatest influence over the spending of our families, we’re the ones bearing the brunt of the promotions industry. You can't say Gen-Y isn't a patient bunch: we’ve put up with the harassment of marketers since we were embryotic, the Herald Sun describing us as “the first generation to have been in the sights of advertisers while in the womb.”

The most perplexing aspect of this phenomenon is that Gen Y possesses the tools to launch an effective resistance against the promoter; having been raised on a steady diet of search engines and wiki pages that could quite possibly have been written by your Alzeihmic next-door neighbour, discernment between the factual and the unreliable is one of our most natural instincts. So why have we allowed the promoter’s species to reproduce and multiply at such a rapid pace? Is it that deep down, once you navigate past all the jokes about how many promo girls it takes to screw in a light bulb, we actually want to be marketed to? As a self-confessed material generation, we’ll usually listen-up when someone’s raving about something we ain’t got (unless of course, it’s not Apple brand). Or is it that this latest sub-species of face-to-face promoters has found the chink in our armor: we’ve spent so much time practicing our powers of discernment against any information-generating authority, that we don’t know what to do when faced with a real-life human being on a street corner appealing to us with a personal testimony of their experiences.

Whatever the cause, I appeal to you to now to bring that Gen-Y fraud-filter of yours onto the street. With a united front we can put the promoter out of business. I don’t want my children, or children’s children, or children’s parents, to fear the motives of any passer-by who asks them for the time, or to suffer the tyranny of a pamphlet being shoved into their already-overloaded hands, or to question their self-worth when they realize this person is only talking to them because someone is paying them. Let’s fight to reduce promoter pollution.

Unless, of course, they’re trying to give us something for free. Those guys can stay.


When strangers know your middle name...

Last night I was introduced to a stranger at a party who already knew my full name, the breed of my dog, and the way I like my eggs cooked in the morning. With a nervous laugh I shook the guys hand and desperately glanced around at my friends expecting to see them slowly backing towards the door with fake smiles and wild eyes, dialing 000 on phones behind their backs. Instead, they were beaming at the guy as if they were Kevin Rudd stumbling to get to Jessica Watson as she descended her little pink boat, not the way you would usually react to someone who might have an AVO against their name. Apparently it's completely socially-acceptable these days to openly confess to stalking someone.

Turns out he was another poor soul addicted to face book who I had apparently accepted as a friend although I'd never actually met the guy. Perhaps this says just as much about my embarrassing facebook habits as it does about his (I'm not a friend-collector, I swear...). These sorts of awkward meetings are not uncommon in a world where no-one seems to be able to reflect upon how nice the weather is, have any sort of fun, or even get dumped without twittering about it, posting photos on face book, or receiving an embarrassing relationship status update before the eager eyes of the entire cyber world.

But while we all seem more than happy to broadcast the intimate details of our daily routine to the cyber world (why we care what the guy in our Spanish lecture had for breakfast is another question), the damages being sought in legal cases for invasions of privacy in the real world are substantial enough to buy back your dignity even if you’re Kanye West at the VMAs. Our generation seems to be just as confused about the value of privacy as it is about why Julia Gillard keeps her hair red even though she's living with a hair dresser.

But the courts themselves don’t seem too sure of their stance on privacy either. While a bruised and battered British actor had no action for invasion of privacy against the journalist who trespassed into his hospital room, secretly photographed him lying gaping-mouthed and semi-conscious in his hospital bed, and then published it in the tabloids, Sienna Miller recently won $79 000 in damages while being photographed by the paparazzi. Couldn’t the scoundrels tell that her blow-dried hair, something-thousand dollar outfit and twinkling eyes weren’t an invitation to take her photo?! Gosh.

Perhaps even more perplexing, is that a generation who lives by the ethic "work smart not hard" doesn't seem to have realised yet that the more we twitter and blog and write on each others’ walls and live vicariously through our much more social, more attractive (it’s much easier to fake good looks in a self-snapped photo in half-light), more eloquent cyber-selves, the harder it is to fake a sickie when your boss can get online and see you tagged in a photo at the pub...