Generation Jobless

You experience something very humbling when you read that title; or perhaps it’s terrifying. Even from its name you can already tell that this documentary by CBC’s DocZone is not going to be a happy tale about the job situation for the Millennials. Using the article From Noise to Nucleus by Elly A. Konijn and Jelte M. ten Holt I have chosen to examine how this video takes advantage of our emotions. The nature of a documentary is to evoke opinions by effecting our emotions. Therefore, this article was selected because it provides detailed information about how media affects our emotions and how we in turn regulate these emotions.

An image of the title for Generation Jobless.
(dreamfilm.ca, 2013).

When I first heard about this documentary in January 2013 I was intrigued. I was among the 254,000 men and women who would be graduating from Canadian Universities “ready to conquer the world” as the video so aptly put it (Slinger, 2013), only to be met with disappointment in the labour market. This is a perfect example of mood management theory where the audience selectively chooses to expose themselves to particular programs to manage their mood (Konijn & ten Holt, 2011). I approached this documentary with an initially cynical view and as I proceeded to watch and listen to the statistics and testimonies I emphasized with what I was witnessing, disposition theory (Konijn et al., 2011).

However, by the end of the documentary I was not feeling as positive as before. Suddenly some very real, and quite alarming information had been presented to me and I immediately went into denial with the notion that this could never happen to me. Why would it happen to me? How could it happen to me? This was response modulation, as Konijn and ten Holt explained it is active emotion suppression in response to something witnessed in media (2011). But why did I feel this way and what had provoked it? In order to answer this question I needed to examine how the media framed the bleak message I was presented with.

An image of statistics from Generation Jobless.
(Time to wake up!, 2013).

Above is a perfect example of how statistics were used to instill fear in the audience. Throughout the documentary interviewees and depressing statistics were presented to the viewer. Clearly DocZone was going for shock value in their findings and even, subtly, trying to create animosity towards the Baby Boomer generation by adding in comments about the lifestyle the older generation experiences to contrast with the Millennials. This tactic was employed also at 12:18, 19:19 and 40:00 in the documentary. Their explanation of illegal, free internships where Baby Boomers had control also could irk the younger audience.

An image a young worker beside an older worker.
(Come Recommended, 2012).

The documentary also suggested that the government was partially responsible for the underemployment or unemployment plight by comparing us to Sweden’s education system and pointing out the issues with our educational system, government system and funding for research about labour markets and undergraduate hiring rates.

This espoused hostility towards Baby Boomers and the government makes us, the Millennials watching the episode, angry and frustrated, which as Konijn and ten Holt (2011) point out, “the more emotional people are when watching a piece of media, the more likely people are going to believe it…Because emotions signal what is relevant to us, such as a threat or reward, emotions may as well serve as a signal for the program’s reality status” (p.49). DocZone takes advantage of our emotional state to not only encourage us to keep watching but to evoke a reaction from us by leveraging our emotions. Every single statistic they referred to throughout the broadcast always threw my generation into the disadvantaged light, pitting us as David against the Goliath of the corporate world; a world we don’t fit into. Some statistics mentioned were taken from:

The episode of DocZone ends and I’m left in denial and emotionally angry at my parents and my government, perhaps even slightly betrayed since my youthful dreams may never come to fruition but if I look back it was all told for to grab attention (Konijn et al., 2010), and to get me bothered. They wanted to provoke my emotions.

First, there really is no balance, it is just all bad or sad news. There are no stories told about successes. How have students used entrepreneurship or ingenuity to circumvent this problem? Second, there is only one voice, sure we hear one Baby Boomer comment and one government official but it seems to have been covertly edited to sound very negative. Third, it is speaking only to a specific audience, a Baby Boomer would watch it and not be bothered; in fact they might refer to us as the whiny Generation Me given the negative attitude of all the participants (Macleans.ca, 2012). Finally, with the exception of Regina University, no solutions are offered to rectify the situation. None of the expert witnesses offer a potential resolution that could be implemented to make things better. They compare us to Sweden saying they have a system that works in place, but so what? Sweden has spent years striking this balance between employers, education, government and youth, plus their government systems and education system are completely different. Would it logistically work to adopt their model? The experts say it would take years, but we clearly don’t have years. Our skilled and talented young workforce is going to waste – so what, after this broadcast, are we going to do about it?

This question still has not been answered and its almost been a year.

Cartoon of graduates entering a jobless market.
Is this our reality or our future? (Culloden Church, 2013).

Resources

Come Recommended. (2012). Millennials vs. Baby Boomers in the Workplace. Recommended January 29, 2014, from http://comerecommended.com/2012/04/millennials-vs-baby-boomers-in-the-workplace/

Culloden Church. (2013). Generation Jobless. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from http://cullodenchurch.com/674/

dreamfilm.ca. (2013). Generation Jobless. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from http://dreamfilm.ca/film/generation-jobless/

Konijn, E.A., & ten Holt, J.M. (2011). From Noise to Nucleus. Emotion as Key Construct in Processing Media Messages. In Katrin Döveling, Christian von Scheve, & Elly A. Konijn (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Emotions and Mass Media. New York: Routledge, 37-59. http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CDYQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.researchgate.net%2Fpublication%2F234116761_The_Routledge_Handbook_of_Emotions_and_Mass_Media%2Ffile%2F72e7e523181e1713fa.pdf&ei=fbLKUvTeIqep2gWp_oGYCA&usg=AFQjCNFxS6JTpZ0mOrfH8Ns0c35MbfxETw&bvm=bv.58187178,d.b2I&cad=rja

Macleans.ca. (2012). Study confirms Millennials are “Generation Me”. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2012/03/19/study-confirms-millennials-are-generation-me/

Slinger, H. (Writer), & Bartlett, S. (Director). (January 31, 2013).  Generation Jobless. [Television series episode]. In S. Bartlett (Producer), DocZone. Toronto, ON: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Time to wake up!. Generation Jobless!!!. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from http://timetowakeup1.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/generation-jobless/

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One thought on “Generation Jobless

  1. Generation Jobless– unfortunately, it sounds all too familiar. Olivia, I could empathize with that feeling of ‘Oh God, is this what awaits me post-graduation’, and I think I probably speak for all of our classmates when I say this is a common fear. However, I think you correctly pointed out one of the most important factors regarding the CBC documentary and the GJ campaign. We are constantly being bombarded with negative statistics, ‘horror’ stories of those a year or two ahead of us, and the all-too-common labeling of our generation as ‘wanting it all’ without working hard for it. I, for one, would like to hear more of the SUCCESS stories. The ones about the members of our generation making a difference, experiencing entrepreneurial success, or using innovation and creativity in new and exciting ways. It is clear that in the last few years, the statement on youth opportunity in unemployment has had a consistently negative connotation. I believe that in this case, an emotional appeal towards the POSITIVE, presenting real optimism and motivation for our generation, would be much more effective in creating change at the political, professional, and personal levels.

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