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The ‘urban poor lifestyle‘ is a new phenomenon that has afflicted today’s millennials who are under constant pressure to live a lavish lifestyle despite being in debts later.
The Urban Poor Lifestyle – this is a term that has crept up in our times with the twenty somethings. It’s a concept that is all around us, but one that we pay no heed to because it does not seem to be anything out of the ordinary for metro dwelling young adults.
We live in times where the cost of each item seems to be increasing, sometimes at a pace faster than we can keep up with. For these young adults in the above category that surely seems to be the case. Before they know it, the cost of movies, coffee, drinks, meals out, partying, shopping (for branded wear) escalates at the blink of an eye.
As much as media and social media is a boon, industries and advertisements seem to portray that the consumer is the most important person. What most individuals fail to realize is that these are experts at their craft. Their craft is primarily to sell to you by any means possible, whether you may need it or not, they make you feel that you are incomplete without this.
I came across an article, that spoke about as to how these individuals would be starving yet would spend on a coffee at Starbucks to be a part of the ‘in group’ in the social circle. How they could not afford to get home via cabs like the others so would pretend to work overtime in order to avail the company cab. Add to this the truly affluent ones, that we see parading in the malls and restaurants. You know the one am talking about- the one who is carrying a bag or sporting a watch worth at least a lakh- The ones who make us feel that we want the same and the ever popular – ‘If he/she has that then why can’t I’? We fail to understand that some people were born into money and some worked really hard to afford the luxuries.
And who can forget the celebrity fan following, whether within our country or for the likes of the Kardashians out there. (If you don’t know who I am talking about, I am thrilled for you! No, really!) I recently had a teenager show me a post on a Kardashian sister who is 19 or something, but has her own mansion and 6 cars. Are we really setting these absurd standards for young adults? Back home we see star kids on their exotic vacations sporting fashion, straight off the runway. No wonder we ended up labelling our young adults the ‘urban poor’.
Here, I am sometimes looking at the right side of a menu to determine how much of a hole I would burn by ordering that ‘speciality coffee’ or ‘signature dish’. And this is when I can very well afford the same. I think twice about spending an amount that I can do without but there are times I tell myself – “What the hell! I earned it”. I work hard to be able to live a life I want. But the strange part is, I hate shopping. I am not the 5 star variety and neither do I like to click a dozen selfies a day nor do I thrive on being out at the coolest spots or destinations to brag about on public platforms.
Is it just me or is it a shift in the generation? I shudder to think that I am old enough to actually view those younger than me as an entirely different generation! Hell, I thought I am as young and hip as them. But that’s another story altogether. I believe that I grew up in a time, coming from a middle class background, where the value of money and hard work was combined with building a life with purpose, love and meaning as against possessions and superficial connections. I do not recall a time I asked for something and heard a no from my parents but the values were far more firmly ingrained than my need for gratification. (And I am pretty sure they said no to most of my ‘wants’ as well!).
But let’s address the bigger term here – ‘Poor’. How does one classify these young individuals as poor? The ones who spend money on a luxury brand item but are in credit card debt or the ones who go out all the time and order expensive drinks yet can’t pay the rent on time? Are they the ones who think a social media life requires buying and collecting things, yet don’t ever feel complete? If these young adults are starving themselves all day just to afford an evening out where they would inevitably have to spend to be in the social order they desire, something is very wrong.
The fact that today these young people are YouTube stars / Instagram celebrities / Facebook idols, is part of the problem. There was a time when only a few people were considered famous and by that effect experts in their field. But nowadays, garnering followers pretty much guarantees instant success and status.
It seems like we must pity these youngsters and help them. The help part seems fine but making excuses for their behaviour isn’t good enough an action. Clearly, they have not been pushed into these scenarios and have in fact made the choice to buy items and create a life around material possessions or what the world / their society deems worth appreciating.
What do these young ‘urban poor‘ truly knowing about being poor? Poor isn’t the 20 something who spends 10K on a dress for one occasion and a picture and then whines about not being able to afford basic necessities or running out of cash as soon as the salary is credited.
Urban poor is the one like my driver, who makes an attempt to earn an honest living and puts his three children through school. He ensures that they learn English and helps his kids learn how to use the computer (donated by someone). Urban poor is the neighbourhood parlour girl, who always looks neatly groomed, beaming smile in tow although she lives in deplorable conditions and is trying to make a living for herself and her family.
If you know someone who is living such a life, a cousin / sibling / friend, it is imperative to help them understand that the life they are building is a consequence of their own choices. Building a world purely around possessions and superficial items while ignoring what is needed for their physical and mental health is going to lead to a temporary state of positivity. But, let us not indulge them in this cycle and allow them to act like children acting out on their ‘wants’ and ignoring their ‘needs’.
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