We’re living through strange times. The bell curve of human intelligence or lack thereof has never stretched so far apart. It’s difficult if not outright impossible to discern the truth from the barrage of information we’re constantly bombarded with on every screen we glance past.
As a child, I had always assumed being an adult meant something. As if age magically bestowed you wisdom, or at least common sense. But it isn’t so. People do not miraculously become clever or more sensible after consuming nonsense for most of their lives.
I have always avoided reality TV like the plague, and on the rare occasions when I watched them, I felt bewildered by their popularity. The cheap theatrics filled me with an irrational passionate hatred. It felt like a betrayal, that in this short time we have on the planet, this limited journey, we were being studied religiously, then targeted with the most likely trash to elicit a click, an endless scroll. We were being robbed on a daily basis, of seconds, minutes, precious hours wasted by clever algorithms, designed to keep us complacent, bored yet satiated, just tired enough to never strive for more. Let the homeless carry iPhones. They will own nothing and be happy about it.
Isn’t it strange, that we’ve never had more and felt worse about it? For all that the younger generations complain of wealth inequality, unaffordable housing, and the con that is higher education; we have never had so much material comfort, access to information, opportunities to be more than the circumstances we’re born into.
But we squander it every fucking day. I watch my youth slip away as I inflict irreparable damage to my spine because I’ve not yet aged enough to regret my poor posture. We share the same cliche quotes with pastel backgrounds and pretend it’s as good as therapy. We experiment with different pills till we find the right one that numbs our pain with the least repercussions. We nip our problems at the bud so we never have to examine the roots too closely.
We’re the first generation in a long time that’s had it worse than our parents, and we’re angry but not quite sure at who. At our parents for doing their best? At ourselves for believing lies about dreams being achievable? At the teachers tasked with pretending we weren’t mediocre? Who needs a mid life crisis when you can experience anxiety on a daily basis? It’s not a drug addiction if a pharmacist labels the bottle.
What if their best was not even remotely close to good enough? Can you ever really break the cycle? Home used to be a place I would hide. A roof over my head, enough distance between me and her temper. Never quite enough distance.
I was never given permission to make a home my own, and even now, sitting in the house I own, it feels lacking. I never quite know how to answer when the designer asks what I want, because for so long “wanting” was a crime. The audacity of a child to want more, when the parents had so little. A crime beyond repent.
There was a time when my mother was so miserable that the very act of expressing happiness in her vicinity was a recipe for disaster. I find myself experiencing the same irrational rage at mild inconveniences and it feels like a cruel cosmic joke, to become what you loathe the most. The irony that I’m now the favourite child. The successful yet obviously not successful enough lawyer she can humble brag to her friends, whilst making quips about how she never had high expectations of me.
All that I am was despite her good intentions. Yet she wears my achievements like glorious validation.