Work hard, spend hard: picture of today’s youth

By Ying Xuan Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/14 23:52:10

Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT


Wearing only a casual T-shirt, shorts and backpack, it takes courage to go shopping in Guomao, an area at the center of Beijing's CBD, as almost everyone else in the district is wearing delicate suits and exquisite makeup. The fragrance oozing from their deluxe perfumes always reminds me of my comparably disheveled appearance.

An article went viral recently over the lifestyles of white collar workers in Guomao. It noted that quite a few workers with low monthly salaries of 5,000 yuan ($757) would rather overspend on their credit cards in order to be well dressed. They wear Armani and drink expensive cold pressed juices. Their bags are normally limited edition and they tend to use their leisure time engaging in unique activities such as aerial yoga, attending concerts or learning the sport fencing.

This is not a unique phenomenon to Guomao, but a lifestyle pursuit made by a growing number of young people today, who believe that money doesn't lead, it follows. Why bother to save every hard-earned penny? Also, once you have the taste of such a life, it is hard to go back.

In sharp contrast, some real tycoons of the world are surprisingly frugal. Take Warren Buffett, American business magnate, who has been carrying around the same wallet for 20 years and has never spent more than $3.17 on his breakfast. And Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, who tends to choose Gap T-shirts and jeans over highly-priced tailored suits. So why has enjoying the pleasures of life here and now regardless of costs become the philosophy of many young people whose wallet can hardly support their expenditures?

Perhaps the concept of compensation in psychology can provide an answer, which concerns a strategy by which people cover up their weaknesses, frustrations, or feelings of inadequacy in one aspect of their lives through the pursuit of excellence in another area.

"I've been working so hard, why can't I award myself a little?" This has become a common mentality of many young people, who seem to be overly confident in their earning power, yet are in fact weary of their future. After all, the billion-dollar cases that they follow and deal with at work may not have much to do with them in reality.

They might go to a Michelin-star restaurant to celebrate weight loss milestones, purchase an extravagant bag as a reward of minor improvements in their KPIs, or enjoy a Kaiseki meal after working overtime. Can they really afford it? Well, don't bother asking because all you'll get is "I deserve it."

Compared with their previous generation, who obtain a sense of security mostly from owning their own houses or apartments, the happiness index of many young people, especially girls, often seems to come straight from their authentic leather bags.

Perhaps they are using their own ways to confront the cruel world and grasp a seemingly more attainable, readily available sense of happiness. Yet in the pursuit of their desires - their real long-term desires, they should slow down before they reach for their wallet.

The author is freelance writer based in Beijing.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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