I’m envious of the gen Z ‘lying flat’ trend

I clearly remember saying to class mates in year 12 that I wanted to be a beach bum when I grew up.

It was a throwaway line, an attention-seeking device, I suppose.

I had long hair that I hid behind, and I clearly would have liked to have been a hippie.

The flower power, make love not war movement was slap in our faces, despite being thousands of kilometres away in America. I would hum the tune, “If you are going to San Francisco, make sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” All sounds a bit naïve and kitsch now.

But maybe under there, there was an element of truth in my throwaway line. Part of me wanted to lie in the sun, feeling the warmth of the rays and just escaping the world around me for a carefree and indolent life.

It seemed a better answer than one where I had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life or what career I wanted to have.

Fortunate career

Fortunately a career did evolve and it was a good one, teaching high school students and enjoying the moments of sheer joy as the students had those ‘ah ha’ moments when you know they have understood a concept or realised that life has complex shades of grey to deal with.

I am interested to hear that there is a trend in China at the moment called ‘lying flat’, where the young have bailed out of the rat race as they see it and do the minimum to get by in life.

Youth unemployment levels in China are quite high and many see their university degrees as not quite the entrée to a job and career they thought they would be.

Others have decided to go back to their home towns to look after ageing parents. With China’s one child policy, the onus or burden is placed on one child to look after two parents. There is no concept of spreading the load among siblings because there aren’t any. What a social experiment with severe consequences.

And now some of my own grown-up children are uttering the idea of wanting to cease work and lie in the sun.

“Mum, I’m a bit over it,” has become a phrase I hear often. They are feeling the cost-of-living pressures, the difficulty of gaining housing, the pressure of demanding jobs and the difficulty of maintaining a lifestyle that they feel they want.

We often have discussions about the capitalist dream of constant economic growth, which requires us to keep on consuming on the treadmill of life. Some of them are beginning to question that whole ethos.

Money shower

But now I read that in the next 10 years there will be the biggest transfer of assets ever, as the baby boomers die and pass on approximately $5 trillion to their children and grandchildren. What effect will that have on them? Will they all pay off their houses (if they own one) and find a different passion than the work that has occupied them? They will no doubt have different priorities to the boomers.

Will my kids chuck in their jobs and change direction? Will there be enough money for them to make life-changing decisions or will the inheritance just allow them to face a comfortable future but not one of radical change? Who knows?

I won’t be here to see it but maybe one of the offspring will be the beach bum that I aspired to, even if it is only fleetingly until the money runs out. Good luck, I say.

Do you think society is working for younger people? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Why I’m grateful to be a baby boomer

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