Opinion - Defining a Yuppie:
A pejorative term used to refer to a young urban professional; indeed, an amalgamation of the three mentioned words. Made pejorative by the stereotypical vapid materialism associated with said professionals. This undignified cliché emerged due to the large disposable incomes the yuppies commanded and their obvious vapid materialism. Demographically, Yuppies are well-educated upper class/upper-middle class individuals working in the private sector, in executive positions. Nearly rendered extinct in the United States (where they first arose in the early 80s) by the economic recession of the early 1990s, Yuppies are now springing up with full force in third world countries with developing private sectors.
The 1980s was the decade of the yuppies in the United States. They usually came from middle-class and upper-middle class families, went to good colleges and usually had professional graduate degrees too. The psychological factors behind the consumer-frenzy they embodied were said to be a reaction to the hippy peace, love and understanding mentality their parents' generation had vociferously advocated in their youth. Along with the aforementioned high salaries and excessive consumption, Yuppies were characterized by their love of the finer things in life. They would eat nothing but the most expensive exotic new cuisine, wear nothing but the highest-end designer clothing and go nowhere but the latest clubs. And under all this panache lay an immense amount of narcissism and self-absorption.
The Yuppie lifestyle:
The Yuppie lifestyle was perhaps best examined by Bret Easton Elis in his book, American Psycho (later an acclaimed motion picture). In this book, Patrick Bateman is, on first sight, the perfect Yuppie. Rich and handsome, a fellow with the perfect body. Knowledgeable about everything that was worth being knowledgeable about, namely, fashion, food, commercial music and all the newest toys of the extremely rich. Handsome he was, but his perfect body was the result of obsessive weight training, spurred on by insecurity and narcissism. His knowledge likewise was a result of hours of perusing the latest guides on all things important, the motivation here being the one-upmanship of his friends for social gain. His wealth was the result of both his degree from Harvard and his WASP pedigree. But beneath all these attractive traits was buried a deep psychosis and a complete detachment from humanity, which spurred him straight into the rather messy avocation of serial killing. What Elis does so well with this book is that he creates a very real character, the hallmark of a classic yuppie, and then shows what a monster that character would be if taken to the logical extreme.
A little look should be taken at the political leanings of the yuppie culture of the 80s. Traditionally, Yuppies tended to favor leftist social policies and rightist economics. In layman's terms, they demanded greater social freedoms (which was fashionable) but also demanded economic policies that granted tax-breaks and incentives to the rich (which was self-serving). As this was a contradiction in terms of the political setting of the United States then, there was a great amount of see-sawing by the yuppie demographic between the Republican and Democratic parties.
Yuppie phenomenon in Pakistan:
Despite the horrible state of the Pakistani economy and the general trend of rising illiteracy, there are an unprecedented number of private sector opportunities for the connected and well-educated youth of the country. To save the reader from suspense, it is exactly this demographic of Pakistanis that is the bastion of Yuppie-ness here and today.
It is conventional wisdom (and wise it is indeed) that with a good education and a professional degree, the already privileged youth of this country can get a high-paying job very easily. So one similarity that emerges between the original yuppies and our browner friends now is that of general background. As the financial (and with financial, psychological) positions of the two aforementioned groups become similar, the rise of the Yuppie is complete. The typical Pakistani yuppie can be found at every hip new eatery in Zamzama, or M.M Alam, or F-6. With flashy cars, flashy cell phones, flashy clothes and flashy romantic partners, they give off enough light to light up a city block.
But here a fashionably accented voice pipes up. “Oh, you jealous, selfish, self-absorbed, near-sighted and fat little social critic, can you not see that they're encouraging the growth of the private sector in this country? Can you not see that their apparently ridiculous obsession with consumption feeds the poor of this country? Is it so bad to have a well-earned good time, on money they earned fairly, especially when their excess promotes the common good?” To this perfectly reasonable objector the writer would recommend a good critique of capitalism and the aforementioned Bret Easton Elis book.
Yuppie lifestyle – a critique:
For those of the readership who are not as enlightened (and probably not as perfectly manicured), the author would like to explain nicely exactly what is wrong, economically, with the yuppie culture. Yuppies are spenders, not savers. They do not, as a general rule, invest. If they invested, they wouldn't have money left over for eating out. What their spending does is that it feeds the poor man for a day. It does not plant fields, it does not teach, to use a rather tired old expression, the poor man to fish. The lifestyle is less sustainable than a Hummer Truck and more painful to witness than a kick in the unmentionables. Socially, it exacerbates the divide between rich and poor, it creates callous, self-righteous young people who are short-sighted and fated to either fail monumentally when the stock market crashes again or to mature and lose every trait that makes them who they are now.
Politically, the yuppies are the drawing-room critics. Inert and loudmouthed, they are more eloquent than a penguin singing a love song and hardly as knowledgeable. To top it all off, they are self-assured and stubborn, so until they move back in with daddy or grow up, nothing anyone says is going to change them.
As qualification, the author would like the express his apologies to the young upwardly mobile professionals who are nothing like the ones mentioned above (who are probably in the majority). One thing Pakistan has that the United States did not during the advent of the yuppies there is a prevalent social responsibility to take care of one's family. The young urban professionals who are thus burdened often do not have enough disposable income to enter the traditional Yuppie lifestyle. They skip this strain of the capitalist virus and go on straight to become short-sighted worker drones (pardon the pejorative exaggeration). In conclusion, it is a sad fact that what was virulent in the first-world decades ago has now reached the third-world, and we are as helpless against it as they were. An uplifiting thought though is the aforementioned non-sustainability of the yuppie lifestyle, though one must hope that their extinction here and now does not carry a toll for the lower classes, as it did in the United States.