A master of satire and wit, Chandrika Krishnan makes us introspect the relentless and empty lives we lead in the era of Facebook, Instagram and instant gratification.
Whoever says that the present generation has it easy, must either be talking through their hat or to use the present day lingo, must ‘be high!’
Being a 60s child, I believe that my life was a cakewalk compared to what these millennia are going through. I had no pressure whatsoever to know what I had to become. Neither did most of my peers. Simple expectations ruled our lives and that included passing exams and getting promoted every academic year till we graduated from college. Most of us were late bloomers and even today, I can happily say that I am only partially unfurled, happily searching ways to bloom further. I was not expected to know my long-term goals, my short-term ones and where I would see myself some 10 years thence. Long term to us was fixed deposits in the bank kept aside for a rainy day and that too for a very small sum.
Always on the move
Today’s young and young adults hardly live life; they are always on the run. Short of walking on water, they are expected to be good at everything. The competition is so stiff that they need to be good at academics, sports, public speaking, debates, theatre and also to dance the night away to herald a new year, acquire a special friend for valentine’s day, and celebrate birthdays on par with the birthday of Christ!
Our generation moved up the ladder slowly, both financially and position- wise. Today, the pressure comes from taking home a fat pay check and to make a difference to the company you work for. Every 2-3 years, the young are expected to move, jump and vault the ladder. Sitting late, with looming deadline for projects, the pink slips and the lay-offs is agonizing with huge impact on their personal lives too. Building a human touch at workplace is sacrilegious.
The pressure of dating
The pressure of dating has become so intense. I grew up without having this Sword of Damocles hanging over my head, of being necessarily ‘in a relationship.’ Today, being ‘committed’ is almost a chore rather than a choice and it has to begin earlier to avoid lest you be termed unnatural. I grew up with an option of an ‘arranged marriage.’ The onus was on us to make a marriage work and work we did. We didn’t have many choices, so we learnt to accept the spouse with the warts and all. We also knew that we were far from perfect, for no one ever gave us an ‘also ran’ award.
Today, with the choices aplenty – going steady, being in relationships, breaking up, making up, moving on, moving away, calling it a day or calling it off – are all phrases that has multitude of meanings to the new gen.
A wedding is given higher priority than marriage. As a manager of a famous photography studio said, “By the time the young couple decide on photographs for the album, the marriage is over!”
Post marriage, we moved into a rented home, bought our first home that was quite tiny, upgraded it or not at all. From 2 wheelers we moved on to a basic model of a 4 wheeler. We cherished our first refrigerator, mixer, grinder and other gadgets forever and they became family heirlooms. Brands did not rule us and we took our holidays at irregular intervals. Today, in your 20s you need to have booked a 3 BHK in an upscale apartment complex or possess one or more ‘high-end ‘car.
A generation of Instagram travelers
Coming to traveling, we were happy playing tourists and left the discovery to the likes of Columbus. We requested a fellow traveler to take our pictures if at all and relied more on the sight ‘to flash upon that inward eye.’ Today, there is a great need to be a traveler. One needs to be on a permanent quest for discovery of new culture, new food, and new experience worthy of instant popularity on Instagram. We look at travelling with tension, always searching for an obscure or off-beat destination, where we need to be on the path of self-realization, immortalizing this ‘alone time’ with a selfie stick.
‘Live Life King-size’, has moved on from a mere tagline of a tobacco advertisement in the 80s to the way of life in the 21st Century.
With the onslaught of Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, the pressure to smile is constant and unrelenting. Everyone is beautiful and reed-thin. We looked at real sweets and drooled without going on a guilt trip. The only pumping we knew was at the petrol bunk or the old-fashioned stove my mother had. ‘Gymming’ and ‘pumping iron’ was unheard of.
Huge social expectations
I dressed up well whenever I stepped out the house, wearing my tattered skirt or pajamas only within the four walls of the house. I never had the pressure to cultivate a serious, “I live by my terms” kind of attitude. We dressed to suit the occasion and none of us agonized over what to wear or wonder if we come across as an ‘oldie’ or a ‘wannabe!’ Each one of us was unique, not a clone with the same hairstyle or clothes, with this constant urge to ‘belong’ or become one with the wallpaper. We also left the spikes to the porcupine.
I am lucky to be a 60s child. There was a time when we could recite Daffodils by William Wordsworth, without going into paroxysms of laughter. I could use words like gay, hot, babe and daddy before it underwent such dramatic semantic changes. This ‘awsum’ generation has their work seriously cut out.
The void of existence
‘Depression’ was a terminology we more often than not associated with Bay of Bengal. Today, it is fast becoming a way of life. Right from a preschooler upwards, we use this word with more frequency than words like ‘joyousness’ and ‘contentment.’ Despite economic liberalization and a freedom to exercise the multiple choices that one has before them, the feeling of fulfillment is depleting and the void of our existence is increasing. With growing expectations from self and the world and replacing human interactions with technological dependence, it is little wonder that the unhappiness and darkness are growing.
Am I not then in a luckier space?