My best friend and I had a competition: half an hour to write about being an adult in 2017.
Here’s my entry:
I’m not where I thought I’d be in 2017. I’m not where my parents thought I’d be when I’d turn 26. We didn’t predict the financial crisis in 2008, we didn’t predict house prices to climb so dramatically and homeownership to plummet. We didn’t think guys would turn out to be ghosts. No one expected yet another health bomb. And yet, this is where I am.
For all the surprising junctions in the life of a twenty-something, where we are in 2017 is, through necessity, completely normal. After all, we can’t change what has happened to us, only what happens next. We still rent houses. Our parents weren’t renting in their late 20’s. Being able to cook seems like a vestigial trait. We can have hot food on our doorstep within 12-15 minutes (providing the cyclist doesn’t get hit by a car, that is). We’re still searching for our Mr or Mrs Right – in fact, do we need an S.O? Our parents were married and pregnant before they were 30! Fortunately, we’re enjoying the hunt; contraception is openly encouraged, not a hushed taboo. Grandparents ask if we’ve found a partner yet. Are we worried we’re not settling down yet? We scoff at our committed friends (they’re missing out on so much!)
In the UK, less and less are single females above 30 referred to as ‘spinsters’. We’re in the era of the ‘Career Woman’ they hail. To some, marriage seems superfluous. We literally do not need a man. Homosexuality and the union between two people of the same sex is not only legal but also on an equal playing field to heterosexual marriage. Ejaculate into a pot, add it to an egg in a dish, inject it in, and hey-presto, 9 months later we have a baby – no courting, love-letters or heartache needed.
But there’s a darker side to this.
People are rejecting intimacy. So many women crave touch. And it turns out, so many men do, too. Single men in their 20’s are lonelier and more depressed now than their married, and subsequently divorced, 40-something counterparts, research has found. For all our empowerment of individuality, are we shunning human touch? Is our reliance on instant gratification, on climbing the social ladder, on filtering our lives putting us in jeopardy of meaningful human contact? If so, what impact will this have on the lives of the elderly in 2057? Will the elderly of the future have grandchildren whose language and compassion is devolving? Or will there be a backlash? Will future twenty-somethings look at the years 2017-2022 as a pivotal time? Will they opt for a more tactful mode of communication, leaving their phones in a bowl at the office and on the doorstep and engage in the true, meaningful and emotive conversation that human nature craves?