Brianne Manton

Work: The Idea Without the Action

The “American dream” has become an attempt at a shallow lifestyle where one can be a millionaire without working, have an intimate relationship without marriage, and have life’s greatest luxuries at the snap of their fingers. Work is now something to avoid or cut corners to get around. Marriage and children are now something to put off as long as possible because they get in the way of the materialistic lifestyle that American media and society have now embraced. Working to comfortably support a family was once a noble thing, and men and women alike gained a sense of self worth from being able to have a job and do it well. Today, the majority of society tries to gain self worth from material things and goes about getting them in the most convenient ways possible.

Getting seems to be the goal, but the means of achieving is overlooked. A generational change seems to have occurred and the old and new “American dream” are polar opposites. In the fifties, men worked hard to earn a living, have a family, and give them a good life. This tradition continued for years. However, somewhere along the way this pattern changed. The “American Dream” was fulfilled for men and women from the 1950s to the 1970s. Their children were raised in good homes and most had comfortable lives. These children didn’t see what it was like to live in a time of war, or what their parents had to go through to get a good job and support them. They never learned what the value of “work” really was.

I know a man, who I’ll call William, that grew up in a poor family in the 1960s and worked day and night to put himself through school and become a successful accountant. He was married at a young age and his wife had two jobs to help him finish graduate school. Years later he became the owner of a successful company. He gave his children opportunities in sports and school by making sure they lived in a good neighborhood and by paying for them to be on the best sports team. When his only son became an adult, he had no desire to work. He looked for any way to get wealthy fast while living off his parents’ money in the mean time. Because his son didn’t have to work to get what his family provided, he thought it should come easy and that having the luxuries he grew up with was normal.

Aiding in the misperception of what it took to get the “normal” lifestyle that many young Americans have been raised with are the media. Television started showing the daily life of a high school student or family and work was left out of it. Sometimes young men or women won something or became famous and suddenly had everything. People on television, in the movies, and in real life had cars, homes, and food on the table. Parents wanted to give their children what they didn’t have or wanted to have, and unfortunately the work they did to give them this went unnoticed. The children and young adults of this generation had a false sense of reality, and then reality television came.

To a generation in need of a role model for what work is and how important it is to success and society, reality television came and crushed the chances of “work” as it should be. It showed that money is all that matters, regardless of the means. It showed that women would go on a show to date a man just because he is a millionaire, and then have to choose whether or not to stay with him when they find out he’s not. It currently shows sixteen year old girls expecting their dad to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for their birthday parties. It shows famous families indulging themselves in any way imaginable. This is what the youth of America calls “reality” television. It is no wonder that the “American dream” has changed and that young adults are living off of their parents’ money. They have been misguided and work as it should be is a foreign idea.

Work requires incentive, but if the incentive is to get rich fast and stop working, then it loses its meaning. Work is a continuous lifestyle, whether it be mowing lawns or walking down a runway. It is a duty that requires persistence, consistency, and a desire to fulfill a role. People only get out of it what they are willing to put into it, which is why the “American dream” has become so inconsistent with the actions of society.

One does not become successful by sitting around and waiting for the gold to be handed to them, they must work to get there. Without a general understanding of work and achieving goals, members of society will never be satisfied and will never do what it takes to get where they want to be. The “American dream” as it is today will simply be a false sense of happiness that no one will reach. Even those who do reach it may find that it was just a shallow search for an unfulfilling goal. It may be that only when this dream is not achieved people will realize the importance of work, but how many years will be wasted before this is finally understood?