Which career choices are currently desirable?
It’s odd enough that a travel company would want to survey young people about desirable career choices, but odder still when you view the results. First Choice commissioned the study of 1,000 six to seventeen year olds in May last year to find out what they wanted to be when they were older only to find that the most desirable job was being a YouTuber.
The results read that nearly 35% of those surveyed saw being a YouTube star as the most desirable career, whilst 18% said they wanted to be a blogger or vlogger.
It’s probably not outrageous to imagine that a profession with a potential reach of 1.5 billion subscribers is desirable to kids who consume the majority of their media via YouTube. Keep in mind also that becoming a professional vlogger through YouTube now means enormous wealth through advertising revenue and sponsorship; the richest YouTuber in the world Daniel Middleton is currently worth $16.5 million.
How did he make his millions? Kids subscribed to his channel to watch him play Minecraft - a game where you dig (mine) and build (craft) different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats. Why would anybody want to watch somebody else play a game? It’s hard to say really but it proves many of the key theories of Postmodernism as prescient.
Watching somebody else playing a game, or watching an “unboxing” video (YouTube series in which children, or in some cases just disembodied hands, take toys out of their packaging and play with them as uplifting music plays in the background) fits the definition of Simulacra almost perfectly.
Jean Baudrillard in "The Precession of Simulacra" defines this term as : "Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal.... It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real"
In the fine capitalist tradition of exploiting children’s oddball behaviour, toy makers have now stumbled across the latest craze amongst kids which is likely to show in Christmas shopping budgets and beyond; The L.O.L. Surprise! Doll, which comes in packaging that gives the recipient no clue as to what they’re likely to receive.
This is apparently the desirable aspect of the toy, and as the child spends the majority of their time stripping away multiple layers of packaging they’re left with the ‘surprise’ of which plastic doll they’ll receive.
It could be argued, quite reasonable that the aspect of surprise has long driven the popularity of children’s toys, and those of us who remember purchasing endless packets of Pokémon card could very much attest to that theory, but this feels different.
As the age of the internet takes a somewhat unsettling and uncomfortable turn, are we finally seeing children giving into our base instinct of disappearing into an alternate reality in which we’re not required to make any effort or experience any of the stresses of human choice?
We’ve been, to an extent, conditioned to the idea that alternative realities are undesirable and malevolent. Most representations in Hollywood or popular literature have presented virtual reality living as empty and meaningless in comparison to human experience and emotion but children face no such outlook; are they finally revealing the instincts that we’re fighting so hard to resist?