that’s a lot of creators

I stumbled upon this fascinating list: 36 (Asian) Youth Facts in 15 minutes
  • There are 3 billion people under 25 on this planet
  • 61% of them live in Asia
  • 45% of young Japanese women said they were in love
  • Only 30% of young Japanese men said the same
  • 82% of Japanese teen males said they used contraception the first time they had sex
  • Only 12% of Japanese 20-year-olds use the home PC to access the internet — the same level as 50-year-olds — they’re using their mobile phones instead
  • 26% of all youth deaths in China are from suicide
  • In India, 50% of girls will be married before they are 18
  • In Nepal, the rate is 60%
  • 85% of Korean teenagers own a cell phone
  • They send an average of 60 messages per day
  • Chinese people spend 10x more money on the internet than people in the west
  • It represents 10% of their monthly income

However, visiting Threebillion.com, who put together the report, will make your skin crawl. Their slogan: “Three billion people under 25: that’s a lot of consumers.”

Am I the only one who is sick of these parasites? I hate the youth culture industry. Trend-watchers, co-opters of cool, they mine us for ideas and sell them back to us in slick packaging. To hear them go on about their brands and their intellectual property, it’s like they invented hip-hop, or electronic music, instead of stealing a look and a style off some poor (usually black) kids in the middle of the nowhere — which is where everything cool really comes from.

When they do it, it’s called inspiration. But when we sample, remix, copy, change, mashup, adapt what we see around us — they call it stealing.

It’s worse in Asia because countries like Thailand, India and China are viewed as “emerging markets” with young populations (”that’s a lot of consumers!”); the marketing effort to sell the Nike lifestyle to young people is neverending. Implicit is the idea that you are what you buy, your identity is best expressed by choosing one pair of sneakers, one band, one mobile phone over another.

In the lobby of a teak-floored Vientiane hotel, a Laotian teenager is eating rice soup and watching Britney Spears. His motorbike helmet is on the table next to him, he is waiting for his friend. I watch him watching Britney, her glossy world, the wheels of aspiration being set into motion. Does he realize that the people who invented those slick dance moves and inspired that fashion had a lot more in common with him — a poor, bored kid with no money and lots of spare time — than with Britney? Rich white people didn’t invent hip-hop — poor black kids did.

This Laotian kid, and all young people, can aspire to a lot more than being an emerging market for the old and the greedy. We are not just a market, not just a product — but the true originators of ideas and culture.

My friend, Simon Law, says: “I’m not my work, my school, or what I buy. I am what I create.”

3 billion young people under 25, that’s a lot of creators.

1 Response to “that’s a lot of creators”


  1. 1 andrew June 26, 2008 at 6:25 am

    my favorite thing about jan chipchase has always been the small design koans he posts. it’s funny, as someone who really can’t wake up in the morning, the bangkok you’re capturing in the other pictures is kinda different from the conjected, clogged, and hazy little world of aggravation that I know… or maybe that’s just Lat Phrao at 7 a.m.?


    A


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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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Giving presents to the facilitators!

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