Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Not everyone can grow up to be a pop star or footballer

A generation ago, young people aspired to grow up to be doctors or engineers or teachers. Nowadays, it seems youngsters all want to be pop stars.

Less than two decades ago I was a teenager, looking at the prospects for my future. I hadn't decided what I would be one day, but the opportunities were endless.

It wasn't only our creative imaginations that allowed us to come up with games such as "let's play teacher" or "I'll be a fireman someday".

We were taught from a young age that the work of engineers, doctors, teachers and the like provided respectable jobs in society, and that we would each need to finish school and go to college and then university to obtain a degree that would get us one of these respectable and useful positions.

These careers were - and still are, to a certain degree, depending on where you get your degree and where you are from - reasonably well-paid, and people with these skills are in high demand.

But who created this concept of the "respectable job"? The idea has come down to today's adults from the generation(s) before us. We regularly heard expressions of encouragement - "one day, you'll grow up to be just like daddy" or "you'll be a famous doctor someday" - and these became embedded in us; we believed them without question.

Today, the world has changed. The pool of respectable and interesting jobs that young people are encouraged to consider today goes beyond just a few professions. Students can think bigger - about becoming an ambassador, a minister, a CEO, even an entrepreneur.

There is also a whole other category of work, one that relatively few parents may hold up as goals for their children but that many young people look on as "dream" jobs all the same.

I'm referring to work in the artistic sector, and especially the performing arts - singer, actor, reality show star, television presenter, and so on. There is also the related range of activities as performers in sport; here the main aspirational goal is to make a good living as a football player.

Today, many young people don't want to go to school, because they assume that it can take a lot of hard work to earn good grades.

A better way to amass that first $1 million would be to come up with an Arabic equivalent of Gangnam Style, a song that will get millions of views on YouTube and thus give you the chance to be a star speaker at universities! After all, Psy's hit seems to have made all things South Korean so popular that the country's GDP actually went up because of his hit.

Sorry, but our young people need to understand that all real-world jobs basically require a lot of hard work.

Even pop stardom takes effort. I'm sure it's a lot of hard work staying in shape, being followed by paparazzi everywhere you go and coming up with creative songs that have less vocabulary than a 2-year-old.

I am not here to judge artistic or sports performers about how smart they are or how much they contribute to society. But as I see the money being poured into their pockets, I wonder if disproportionate stardom is devaluing the emphasis that parents try to put on education. Will our universities one day teach us only how to become famous high-paid artists or athletes?

What good is a doctorate from a reputable, century-old university? Why do our news headlines focus on every detail of the lives of celebrities when their status disrupts the very essence of our appreciation of education and hard work?

What today's societies need is balance. We need to help our youth understand that although it is good to have singers and dancers and footballers, not all of us can achieve excellence in those jobs.

Everyone has a role to play in society and even though nobody can deny the big and growing emphasis on celebrity, we can certainly work to restate and re-validate the old roles, in professions and trades that provide tangible benefits to other people and to society.

 

Aida Al Busaidy is a social affairs columnist and former co-host of a Dubai television show

On Twitter: @AidaAlB

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National