Loving and pitying the youth of today

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Loving and pitying the youth of today

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Being cunning is human nature, and I am a real sly one. When I was young, I didn’t like older people saying, “The world has gotten so much better now.” It was often an opening or a refrain of a lecture or reproach to the young people for not living up to their expectations in these “improved times.” So I made up my mind that I would never say such words to young people when I grew older.

But I regret my youthful arrogance. I just cannot help saying, “The world has gotten so much better now.” Recently, I sincerely appreciated the changes when I saw the newest model of a camera. The camera captures high-quality media photos and is equipped with the function to send the photos on the Internet right then and there. This may not surprise you, but it was shockingly impressive to me.

When I was a reporter, I often had to take photos when covering stories if a photographer was not available. Eighty percent of my adversity during overseas business trips was because of photos. In addition to complicated problems associated with film cameras, I also experienced various technical errors and communication issues with digital cameras. A senior reporter told me he once had to cut his trip short because of the photos. So this high-tech camera brought back some old memories, and I sincerely envy the young people who get to enjoy and make the most out of the newest products and technologies.

Recently, I spoke with a friend, who is young enough to consider mundane the old people’s praising of the “better world.” He went on to iterate the adversities of youth today. They have to go through admission hell, compete against one another in college to get good grades and build an impressive resume. Youth unemployment is high, and the society lacks mobility. Also, they think the smart 386-generation monopolizes the power and doesn’t offer opportunities for youth while at the same time demanding more from them. So he said the young people today are struggling and unfortunate.

As I admired the camera, someone asked me if I would want to go back to my young days. “No way, how would I go through that again!” was my response. I felt a chill running down my spine. In retrospect, my youth was not happy or shining. The older people deceivingly praised youth, as if it was a privilege. Young people were expected to live up to their potential, but they didn’t know where to look. After all, there is nothing more arduous than youth. Life seems to be harder and more frustrating for young people today. All I could tell the young friend was that as he endures youth, he would eventually get old and become a member of the establishment.

Now, I am not struggling with youth anymore. Nevertheless, my wrinkled face makes me sigh, and “looking young” is the best compliment. I feel both pity and envy toward youth, and my contradicting feelings once again prove how sly I am.

By Yang Sunny

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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