the pragmatic aspirations of (part of) a nation

i rarely watch TV because most of it makes my already overloaded brain hurt more. i do make exceptions, especially for newfound TV love.

i was watching a call-in show this evening, hosted by above young lady of our dreams. i realized that a lot of young people in schools and colleges in chennai seem to ASPIRE to be software engineers. it’s actually something they want to do. this is something shared by my younger cousins who are all either in, or on their way to become engineers.

now there is absolutely no doubt the salaries in the field are higher, and it is the field which has consistently had the best growth in employment figures in india as well as in most parts of the world. however, i see the whole IT field as something to settle for than aspire to.

the fact that urban, ‘middle class’, reasonably well educated(well-rounded i mean) young men and women WANT to sit in front of computers for most of the rest of their lives still astonishes me, when there is so much more that is there to be done.

there are, i would suppose(with only anecdotal evidence and no sociology training whatsoever) a couple of different reasons for this.

numero uno is the ‘play it safe’ mentality that pervades the middle class. this is further reinforced by the disintegration of a social safety net(as in nuclearization of families) and lack of an economic safety net, in the form of social security or any such scheme.

numero dos seems to be the well-marketed ‘indian dream’ in much the same way as the american dream of the late ’50s in the USA. i find an increasing amount of slickly advertised intended to sell ‘lifestyle products’ such as expensiver soaps and shampoos and even such things as real estate, higher end cars and things of that nature.

this is depressing to me on many levels. this is also why i intend to vote for the communist party. AGRARIANISM FTW, BITCHEZ!

10 thoughts on “the pragmatic aspirations of (part of) a nation

  1. But aif, if there were no software engineers, I wouldn’t be able to play Rock Band.

    Serious answer: I don’t think it’s a pre-packaged notion to want to have a nice, comfortable life. That’s a pretty standard aspiration that goes back forever. The biggest omission in Marx is that he failed to understand that people like to buy shit. Like plastic drums that let you play along with your favorite songs. Yes, I am part of the problem.

    And yowsa on the young lady you linked to. Of course, our age differences are enough that I expect the NBC To Catch a Predator crew to show up here any minute.

  2. but, brando, you dont have to buy a lot of crap to live a comfortable life.

    in fact, if you do buy that extra car, you’re probably screwing up the road for everyone else, and it doesn’t really make your wang any bigger.
    if you buy that new fancy ‘gated community’ house in the suburbs(which my dad ust did so we’re part of the problem now too), you’re only adding to your own woes of commuting and frustration at traffic problems and fuel prices. not to mention the destructive impact on the local ecosystem, water levels, etc etc.

    i’m not saying people shouldn’t aspire towards a nice house, a car, or any of those things. but when you already have a home, and a car, why must one buy something more just because they’re advertising it as a cure-all?

    can you imagine half a billion extra people buying crap? how many planets would we need?

    as for the young lady of our dreams: pshaw brando… there’s only 3 years between us.

  3. aif, you *do* have the right attitude. I wish I would’ve had that attitude at your age. Instead, I was brainwashed (Yes! I was! It wasn’t my fault!) that I had to climb the corporate ladder and work my butt off constantly. And we worked, spent, worked, spent. And we did both of those things way too much without thinking all that much about it.

    I would go back and tell my 20 year old self to think “larger” in the way of ideas and learning, etc., and think “smaller” about all the things we need to live with.

    We would’ve been just as happy, if not more so and we would’ve also paid a heck of a lot less interest, credit-wise.

    So, good for you.

  4. recycling is good, but as the metaphor goes: band-aid on a shotgun wound.

    it’s funny how individuals are asked to recycle and have penalties imposed, but large companies get away with it. little drops don’t make a freakin ocean as much as the huge rivers that empty into it.

  5. I was just kidding, aif. Not about the recycling, but just pointing out that The Blue Family’s probably done a lot more damage to the environment than helping it by shoving newspapers and bottles into a different bag once a week.

    C’mon! Give me *some* credit!

  6. My job is more or less a desk job too..but I like it. certainly better than typing code all day long. I agree though, there’s a lot more in life that one would miss…opportunity cost, I say!

  7. aif, I totally agree on overconsumption.In a lot of ways, the whole US economy is like a big pyramid scheme. We buy shit we don’t need, which employs other people who make said shit, who use their wages to buy different shit, etc.

    I try not to be too nuts about it. Although, I have plenty of items I don’t need, particularly in the electronics department, but those are things that transmit a great deal of aesthetic pleasure (nice TV for movies and sports, XBox 360 for games, iPod and stereo for music). Even the lo-tech items of books are consumed in mass quantities in the TLBrando household. I do feel guilty about it sometimes.

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