Friday, 25 June 2010

Better in Our Day

I never know how to begin these things. I don't even blog that often but I'm becoming acutely aware that my blog entries are haphazard and on occasion, utterly disjointed. This is a source of perturbation for me. I have postgraduate qualifications in creative writing, but not only have I not yet written a best-selling novel, I can't even construct a coherent blog entry within an hour of starting. Proof if it were needed that Coke Zero is not good for the little grey cells.

Okay. I'll try and focus now.

England won. You know this already, if you care. I allowed myself a little smile as Don Fabio gurned his way through an ecstatic post-match press-conference talking about how beer was the secret to England turning round their form in the World Cup. If this is true, the great unwashed that I shared the pub with on Wednesday afternoon could probably win the event themselves without even trying.

The last few weeks have seen a number of the couples I know splitting up. I mention this only because it's a backdrop to a sea change in relationship dynamics that I've noticed and feel is worth mentioning. The older women at work comment on this a fair bit, smug as they are in the comfort zone of marriages that have lasted longer than I've been alive. Nonetheless, they have a point, and it goes like this.

Young people can't communicate. It's a human instinct, but basically, we're becoming increasingly awful at it. Sure, I can blog, and you can reply to me via Facebook or even text message if I really piss you off, but the chances are that you're not going to confront me in person. I could spend the rest of this blog entry pointing out how ugly your mother is, and at worst you're going to ignore me. We have lost the ability to talk to one another, and with it go essential life skills such as the ability to empathise and compromise. What interaction we do have tends to have little to do with actual communication and instead apes the overly-dramatic scenes in Hollywood and Eastenders. We are all attention-seekers now.

There are many peculiar side-effects to this insidious aspect of modern life. We have fewer friends, and are not as close to the ones we do have. We share less, care less, and know nothing at all about our neighbours (apart from the fact that BNP Man across the road owns a labrador I refer to as BNP Dog, for want of a better name, and is always being arrested for being drunk and disorderly at 5am.)

This puts a particular strain on our personal relationships. I know a number of people my age who have simply given up on the likelihood of ever finding a long-term partner (generally, they are the ones who decide that cats and dogs argue less and therefore make better companions.) However, we still yearn to bond with others and typically find this bond in a single uber-close friendship, the kind of which seems to transcend gender and sexuality.

What does this mean for the future of our generation? Are we in a hopeless position, like my colleagues seem to think? Hardly, I feel. People still meet, fall in love, decide to have children and commit their lives to one another. Yes, we are more cynical about our future, and more prone to outlandish gestures at the expense of genuine feeling, but time is on our side, and we can look to learn from the example of those in the older generation who have withstood the pressures of untold years growing together. Above all, we should look to embrace the way that modern technologies allow us to stay in touch with the people we might otherwise lose, while being smart enough to do more to show we care for the friends we see every day.

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