Has the world gone mad? A reflection of life from the xenial generation
December 13, 2019
As my 40th birthday is looming on the horizon next year, its had me comparing myself to my parents who I grew up with such admiration for, and miss them terribly since they passed away. When I was 10 years old, my parents were 40 and 41 years old. They were a product of the baby boomer generation, a generation which, 30 years ago, had everything they wanted. Life was good. My childhood home was a large detached house, which I still to this day holds a place in my heart, that was purchased for the tidy sum of £24000 in 1985. The memories made there were magical. My parents had a roaring social life, they ran their own business, they enjoyed life.
Then came the resession of 1990-1991. Being 10 years old I was oblivious to the politics, the financial crisis and what interest rates of 19% and as high as 24% for mortgages meant. Almost overnight their business collapsed as working with interior design and soft furnishings was not sustainable when the majority of the country could not even afford their mortgage payments, they certainly were not looking for newly fitted carpets and swags and tails curtain fittings. My parents protected me from the worst of it, but I knew things were different. I overheard talks about moving house, about giving up our magical home, about new starts and new schools. A few months later we were relocating to Edinburgh from Northants and my parents rebuilt their life again.
They may have come from the Boomer generation who had it all, but they were also of the generation that lost it all too. They were fully aware of how life should not be taken for granted. They came from a time where green living and reusing and recycling was the norm. My fathers business included what people would now call upcycling. Food was purchased locally from butchers and green grocers, and lucozade was only for when you were really, really sick.
I am thankful for all that my parents did, for what they provided and the hardships they faced and tried to shelter from me. I am a born of a micro generation, the xenial. My childhood was analog, yet my teenage years and adulthood were digital, the first ones to grasp technology. I grew up playing out with friends until the street lights came on, oblivious to the dangers and worries parents face with children now. We played without risk assessments, we had adventures which we believed were just as good as The Goonies. We could buy a bag of sweets for 10p and our christmas holidays always had snow. Saturday night TV was never missed and the biggest discussion on a Monday at school was whether you watched BBC or ITV kids TV on a Saturday morning. We still purchased vinyl records, and not because it was hip and cool, just because it was cheaper than CDs. Childhood was innocent. We worried not about predators, our social media profile, and would not dare ask for designer names such as Gucci or Prada – these names were not spoken in everyday conversation and were only seen on catwalk models sporting outfits only Lady Gaga could dream of.
Then came technology. Early days of the internet, mobile phones and digital media opened our eyes to the wider world, and very quickly. The tables turned when we now were trying to shelter our parents from our new life choices. They did not understand the desire to communicate with people on the other side of the world, they believed we spoke a new language of acronyms and symbols. At one point my parents believed that I must be in a cult as technology overtook my life.
My son is now 13 and technology is his norm. His childhood was very different from mine as we are overly aware and overprotective of this new generation. This may have something to do with the majority of celebrities that the xenial generation grew up watching on TV and admiring, turned out to be sex offenders. We now live in an Orwellian dystopia where everything is recorded, our online life is monitored by artificial intelligence that simply listens to background conversations to provide targeted advertisements on devices we cannot live without. We cannot hide and shelter our children from the political debates which effects everything surrounding them, from school meal to their further education and entry into adulthood. The decisions we make now have a colossal effect on the future of our children. It leaves me wondering if our parents had these same worries when we were growing up?
The other aspect of this current generation that worries me is the assumption that the whole world is against them. The snowflake generation where innuendos and jokes are taken as verbal attacks, where I am hesitant to use the terms male and female because those are now archaic terms which conform to the patriarchy. People are encouraged to chose their gender or identify as having none, in a world where people can actually marry inanimate objects. I have even been criticised for assuming the sex of my cats! Do you think they really care? I think they mostly care about being fed, loved and being kept safe, which really goes back to the morals of my childhood.
I watch developments on social media, the trends which come and go. I hear the campaigns for saving the world, the influencers posing with their metal straws and reusable coffee cups. Their plant based menu choices and perfect lifestyle shots. But, these are also the people who love designer handbags, make up and need to have the most current iPhone to be on flek. How is the a sustainable lifestyle? What will future generations come to believe if this is our current norm?
How do we find the correct balance in a world that’s gone crazy? We are heading into a time where everything must be kept as PC as possible so not to offend anyone, but on the other hand we are told we should express ourselves how we want, but expression should not offend, assume, show bias or prejudice. There are calls for fictional characters such as Father Christmas to be gender neutral, for the words to be changed in nursery rhymes so to not offend, now we also have the debate of should we even decorate or have christmas trees? If you opt for a real tree, damn you! You killed a living thing for maybe a month of enjoyment. If you chose artificial, damn you! You are destroying the world with plastic.
So where do we draw the line? How do we balance the status quo of life and keep everyone happy, or is the key to life to be ignorant to it all and just live your life as you want to, because does it really matter in the grand scheme of it all?