After watching the 2011 riots from his comfy London home, George Lamb was shocked and had a meltdown as a result of what he saw. He says he couldn’t believe “the incredible inequality going on in the city that I live in” and had to question how he had lost touch and perspective. His bubble had burst and he quit work to try and make sense of it all.
In ‘Generation Screwed?’ we see Lamb travel all over the UK meeting young people whose voices have been left out of mainstream media. With one in three children growing up in poverty, he learns that if you’re born poor the likelihood is you’ll stay poor. Recognising his own privileged background, Lamb tries to make sense of how the outlook of young adults is incomparable to his own positive attitude over twenty years ago.
After hearing young adult’s opinions of the tragedy of Grenfell tower, which Lamb refers to as “A burning symbol of inequality in one the UKs richest boroughs”, Lamb travels from a housing estate in Brixton to a commune in Scotland. He meets a mixture of young adults exploring their thoughts and asks, are they a screwed generation?
As he travels around, the thoughts from those he meets are strong and at times disheartening to hear. Referring to the older generations one female young adults says, “They think we’re all naive, loud mouth, liberal snowflakes and it’s not the case.” Other says “Hope can only take you so far” and you just have to “Ride the wave, and go with the wind.”
On his journey, further north and more rural, Lamb reflects “Does the sense of going unheard get stronger the further you go from Westminster?” The answer seems to be yes.
A common thread that I found whilst watching this BBC Three documentary was the sense of overwhelming hopelessness and isolation that many of the young adults felt. The lack of aspirations and the negative opinions they had was almost toxic to hear. I sat left with the many questions, including how do we help turn this screwed generation into an empowered cohort? What can I do to help this?
Thinking about the future of this generation, Lamb says “Inequality is not going to solve itself.” He goes on to say “Young people are screwed only if they want to be and if they let themselves be. If you want things to be different then take responsibility and make them different.”
First of all, this generation that I am a part of, needs to be spoken about not as a ‘screwed generation.’ To talk about us with such negativity and hopelessness feeds into a poisonous culture which is even harder for us to debunk. To say we are snowflakes that crumble at anything is wrong and degrading.
Instead of writing us off completely, how about talking to us? Find out how you can help ease our anxieties of an uncertain future and help bridge the gap of isolation. If you get to know us, you’ll find out that we’re not all “naive, loud mouth, liberal snowflakes.” So many of us are kind-hearted individuals who want a healthy society to live in and make positive contributions to our communities.
The responsibility of stopping ‘generation screwed’ spans across all of us – not just the younger generation. It’s about everyone coming together to teach and learn from one another. You have experience that we simply don’t have – so share it with us and help us leave generation to come in a healthier state of affairs.
I firmly believe that we can all make a difference from where we are and that isn’t about hugs and kisses, but rather practically showing support. I’m sick of being part of a generation that is condemned for not voting in the latest elections. Rather than shouting at us, how about teaching us how to vote – because there’s going to be more elections that we’re a part of. From the practical steps of registering to vote to what actually happens when you stand in a line at your local polling station.
As a voice in this generation, please hear me when I say many of us are trying to break down barriers that lead to inequality. We’re trying to take responsibility and working hard to make a difference in the world. This is our world too and the majority of us are trying to make it better – I promise! Let’s not segregate ourselves but instead join forces and help our lives become that little bit better each day.
Generation Screwed? aired on 29th Oct 2017 and is available on BBC iPlayer