Low aspirations

I would say that this does indeed qualify as distressing news:

It was this, in Ars Technica. Three times as many American children in a survey would rather be a YouTube content provider than an astronaut. In fact, video blogger was the number one profession chosen by the 3,000 kids in a survey commissioned by LEGO.

A lot of this, I suspect, is based on familiarity, and really, we haven’t done squat in space compared to the glory days of Apollo.

Barely 10 percent of the kids surveyed wanted to be astronauts — and yes, given the regular reports of other surveys that suggest not many more than that can find England on a map, maybe redirecting them from wanting to pilot multi-ton spacecraft over populated areas is a good idea. A third of them want to be video bloggers — and here’s the thing about that. It’s not a job.

Sure, video production is a job and a specialized skill. Writing interesting content to be recorded and broadcast is a specialized skill as well. But production and content creation are the jobs — not video blogging, and three minutes of skimming YouTube will offer dozens of examples of video blogs that have neither. I would be very surprised if a significant portion of the aspiring video bloggers had any idea of what kind of skills were needed to become successful in that field, or had spent any time developing them.

They see half an hour of Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, and they read that he makes about $10 million a year from YouTube, and suddenly: “I can do that!” They would be most distressed to hear that to maintain his production level, Kjellberg routinely puts in 16-hour days. For our indolent youth who quail at the thought of an Actual Job, this is the sort of revelation that results in suicide on a Guyanese scale.

There are about 75 million people under 18 in the United States. If the Harris Poll commissioned by LEGO is accurate, twenty-five million of them want to be video bloggers. I’m not worried that all of those kids will actually become video bloggers — “what I wanna be when I grow up” is a malleable concept. I’m just stunned into a melancholic stupor that a third of America’s kids want to sit in front of their laptop cameras and say “um” for five minutes, and part of me now wishes I still drank.

And I was just getting ready to buy the next round, too.

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