In a society consumed by excess and abundance, the future is looking bleak. Sure, medical improvement has meant that life expectancy is at its peak, but what does that matter if we’re all going to get wiped out by nuclear weapons or extreme weather conditions? Personally, and I know this may seem dreary, the thought of making it past 25 fills me with terror, rather than fulfilment.
Whilst our parents and grandparents discovered a world of technology, promising freedom of movement and ease of communication, we are witnessing the race to space: a fight to escape a globe so corrupt, an expanse void of humanity is more appealing. For really, what can we look forward to when, already, our generation finds more inspiration from what is ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ than products of modernity, which look increasingly more like props from science fiction fantasy than real life?
In a fight to improve quality of life, by increasing ease and accessibility, we have simultaneously been walking in the direction of human extinction. The internet screams ‘bring on the apocalypse!’ as boarded-up windows of travel agents, bank branches and shops now exclusively online, force us back inside, attached to our screens instead of reality. It is hardly surprising our generation is so plagued with mental health issues when the only light we see is the blue light from screens and our social interactions have been reduced to likes, tags and follows. Anxiety ridden and depressed, my bed brings more joy than the prospect of further ‘modernity’.
Being consumed by adverts on all media platforms certainly doesn’t help the growing feeling of dissatisfaction with living. Every day we are shown people more attractive than we are, who have nicer clothes and who are superior because they own literally the entire Urban Outfitters home section. This simply breeds comparison and discontent so, we too, invest in surface-level contentment that lasts about as long as our drooping houseplants. It's a competition as futile as watering grass in the rain - no one grows any better because of it.
I worry for those younger children, the so-called ‘iPad generation’, who can’t part from their beloved screens. It’s a bond stronger than the marriage of most heterosexual couples, yet somehow more depressing. Even ageing has suddenly been made easier. Through Youtube, TikTok and Instagram, children can get social cues from teenagers and teenagers can get cues from adults leaving us with these hybrid nightmares. These days it is not uncommon to see toddlers dressed in business attire, or ten-year-old girls donning make-up and crop tops.
I wish to apologise, on behalf of the society they have been brought into, for they have been robbed of so much. Being awkward and experimenting with yourself and your identity is no longer a natural part of getting older. It seems even the purity of believing in Father Christmas cannot be spared. I nearly cried when the 6-year-old boy I babysat looked me dead in the eye and told me he simply would not go to bed because Santa is watching as, quite frankly, he does not exist and I was the fool for believing so.
And perhaps I am the fool, for looking fondly on a past so ridden with problems of its own, but I don’t know many who bounce with excitement at the prospect of finding careers, having children or buying a home. Our future is one seething with instability and inconstancy. For whilst Elon Musk becomes the first trillionaire, wasting time and money on cars that self drive, poverty climbs higher and the climate crisis goes on ignored. You would think in an age where global communication is at its most effective, we would have rallied together by now to stop our planet from imploding. Yet still, nothing is done. As a result, one can only reside to the fact that those lovely big businessmen have decided for us this world is not one worthy of saving - a tad selfish considering humanity are not the only species living here, but that figures - For money will continue to be their oxygen until the ozone layer gives out.
Sometimes I question if every generation felt this existential dread and sense of purposelessness at 20, and wonder if, perhaps, this is simply a part of growing older. But, you simply have to look towards popular culture to realise we are desperately attempting to pedal backwards on a bike with no chain - in fact, a bike with no wheels at all. Sure, we can wear low waisted jeans, bring back hair clips and pretend it's the 90’s, but sadly the robots have only cracked the code to human redundancy rather than time travel. So, we must plod on, heading straight towards the light, living with the consequences of our actions until death do us part.
Image: Tobias Rademacher, Unsplash