Distinguishing Quality If The Silver Platter Was Taken Away: The Difference Between Potential and Privilege

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Illustration by Yu Sang

Title and talent.

Two distinctly different words but have started to intersect and become more associated with one another to the point that it’s hard to even tell them apart.

With how much this generation seems to favor more of making a name for yourself and being known as someone influential despite reasons as to why you should be even considered as such, people have started to disregard the importance of giving someone a platform because of what they can do, and instead emphasizing more on who they are.

What makes someone worthy to have an online presence that’s so heavily acknowledged and praised? To have people fawn over them and give them worldwide recognition? For people to say that this specific personality is the type that the younger generation should look up to?

Some might argue that others should just mind their business and let other people live their lives and consume what they like regardless of its overall substance, considering life is too short to take things too seriously, that not everything has to be analyzed in-depth. Although I do somewhat agree with that rebuttal of “live and let live”, I think there’s an underlying ripple effect that is caused when we incessantly ignore the value of appreciating media that has a sense of purpose and meaning because we can’t bear its complexity.

Of course, not all content has to be deep and laced with hidden symbolism and metaphors that result in a thought-provoking life lesson, sometimes just having to enjoy something because it’s fun and self-indulgent is just as meaningful and purposeful.

We shouldn’t have to go the extra mile to prove ourselves to everyone in order to be considered deserving of approval and recognition, sometimes being able to create something on a whim and releasing it out into the world in hopes anyone will appreciate your individuality and expertise, no matter how big or small is good enough.

Not everyone has to have an extravagant set of skills to be respected for what they do and what they create, in the end, everyone deserves to be given a chance, regardless of how much they can bring to the table because you’ll never know when you’ll be able to pick up on the next well-acclaimed artist who has so much to say and has so much to give.

But it seems as though as the days pass by, this particular sentiment has started to fly over people’s heads when determining whether someone deserves to be given opportunities that’ll allow them to showcase that potential.

It’s becoming less of recognizing someone’s talent and giving them the appropriate resources to further develop their skills and hopefully give the world something new and refreshing by investing in what this person has to offer, and more so on focusing on what’s already been done and said in order to maintain a standard.

To display the same type of content and faces that are similar to what’s already been shown in fear of trying something different and having it backfire on you.

Because, from what I’ve noticed in the mainstream media and all types of corporations these days, they are more prone to redundancy just for the sake of getting guaranteed results for as long as the general public still isn’t sick of it.

Even if it means applying the absolute bare minimum.

So it doesn’t really matter if something is overplayed or if we’re just nitpicking the same familiar faces in a crowd bursting with potential — because in this world that we live in, people have a tendency to fixate on gaining the awaited accomplishments than they are on actually implementing the work that’s needed to achieve them.

It’s one thing to look at a previous piece of work and take inspiration from it, but recycling the same thing over and over again because you refuse to take risks is another.

Or to include diversity in the media you’re showing because you’re too hung up on the reaction you’ve gotten in the past and you’re too greedy to let it go.

Setting a norm that exclusively caters to one specific group, building a glass ceiling other people can’t seem to shatter no matter how hard they try, and although some have attempted to deconstruct this barrier, others are just as desperately building it right back for the sake of gatekeeping something that was already handed to them.

Considering you wouldn’t have oppression without the oppressors.

The kind that relies too heavily on connections, a person’s upbringing, financial background, and public status even though none of those things signify credibility — but it doesn’t matter as long as someone has a famous last name slapped right across their birth certificate or if someone from their family has close relations with the person they’re planning to work for.

Instantly granting them a position that they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise if it weren’t for the convenience of who they are and where they came from.

Someone doesn’t even need the luxury of a famous last name for them to get what they want, sometimes being able to look a certain way manages to get you places.

Disregarding the need to prove why you deserve to be given this job and what you have to offer to further excel at it — those questions simply do not matter anymore because employers would much rather look at someone’s resume and see that they already fit the basic criteria of white and middle class and let those defining factors earn their stamp of approval.

Not passion, creativity, the quality of someone’s work or what makes them different, if anything, the more that you resemble what has already been fawned over since the dawn of time, it’ll be easier for you to get an occupation that won’t require much effort in garnering attraction when your looks were already made for that.

We’ve been so consumed by quick and easy ways of becoming successful that it doesn’t matter whether our strategies are inadequate and mediocre — and that’s not to say you have to bend over backward trying to prove that you’re the next Michelangelo just to be given a job opportunity. But the more that we keep perpetuating this mindset of “Work smarter not harder.” that is mostly preached by individuals who came from the generational wealth that allowed them to further improve their skill sets with sufficient resources that have always been available to them since the day they were born — that’s when it starts to become a problem.

Because if you think about it, the same people who are constantly up your face telling you how you should strategize your career path saying if you have the potential to be who you want to be, you wouldn’t have to go to such great lengths of having an ordinary 9–5 job, as if you had any other choice. Implying that if you were any good enough, you wouldn’t have to conform to manual labor, you’d already be in the industry you want to work in.

Allowing them to sermonize us with their supposedly revolutionary takes whilst not realizing that if we take away the same privileges that allowed them to foster that mentality — they’d be fretting over the same problems that we have to face as average working-class people who need to survive in order to accomplish our own goals and aspirations.

All of these things are tied back to a deeper systematic issue that goes way beyond overnight success and a twinge of good luck — because if we look at the bigger picture here, nothing is ever that easy unless you have a support system you’re certain you can always fall back on in case things fail and you need another alternative.

But that’s basically suggesting everyone has this kind of luxury which, let’s be honest, isn’t true.

This is why it’s very crucial that we take into reconsideration who we decide to give our money to and who we choose to take advice from and who we decide to look up to as our main source of motivation to plan our career because a lot of the time, their circumstances are painstakingly much different from ours that’s why they were granted the kind of lifestyle that you rave about and hope to have someday.

It is even more important that we’d be aware that whatever happens in our working conditions when we, for example, get rejected from the job we try to apply to because someone from a more renowned background gets picked instead of us, that it is way out of our control and is a matter of biases and prejudices than it is that we’re simply not good enough.

Because there are people who are average at best at their careers who are claimed as talented personnel just because the people before them in their family already built a legacy around their name to which they can use for their own advantage — even though they don’t possess the same level of talent as their previous family members and it’s all purely based on subjectivity.

It can also tie back to racial discrimination, and classism that encourages employers to think that only a specific group is able to draw hype around their brand and so they will keep repurposing the same actors, artists, performers, and entertainers based on what they think is ideal.

When on the other side of the media that’s already being shown are an endless list of new faces who have so much more to give and have so much more to offer but aren’t able to do so because they can’t afford the right equipment, classes, and lifestyle that is deemed to be ideal.

We put so much emphasis on appeal than we do on the actual quality of the work. If we just take a moment to really dissect all aspects of what’s currently trending and determine if it lives up to the hype and or if its the hype that’s supplying its relevance — then that’s when we’ll be able to reflect on the content that we are mindlessly consuming, that is also simultaneously suffocating us.

And so I ask you this:

If the food that you’ve always boasted about eating was somehow delivered on an average plate without your knowledge, the kind that the people around you have used and not the same silver platter that deep down you know is the reason why you brag about the meal in the first place:

Would the food still taste the same?

Would you still gladly swallow it… or would you spit it out because of where the food was placed?

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