The millennial generation is the most sandwiched generation in every respect. From finding our identity beyond the family name, to transitioning from real playtime as kids to virtual socializing as grown-ups, it hasn’t been easy.
When someone on Quora asked why our generation is so unhappy, Deepak Mehta shared his experience to answer how the technological revolution has created an entire generation of unhappy people.
Here’s what he wrote:
An unintended consequence of having grown up during a period of great technological advancements is that the millennial generation (born mid 80s to mid 90s) is too impatient.
Tyler Durden had it nailed 2 decades back.
We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.
The current generation are truly “middle children”. Born during a great transition.
When I was born, owning a radio in a rural Indian village was a luxury. Then came television. Every village had that one family who could afford it. And they would graciously play hosts to their extended rustic family everyday. Kids with their eyes glued to the magic screen, housewives taking a few well-deserved hours off, men more interested in discussing politics and cricket than actually watching the show, and old folks with their hookahs all huddled together, watching the Mahabharata.
When I was 5, we packed our bags and moved to a new city, more than a thousand kilometres away, in a land where people spoke a “strange” language called Marathi. I dreaded the destination but the panic soon gave way to nervous anticipation when my father told me that he would be buying one once we settle in and that in a big city like Pune, there is not just one but almost a dozen channels. Life had never felt better!
Fast forward a decade and a half and there were these “handheld computers” out in the market. Tiny smartphones as powerful as computers, with a camera, music player, video player, and a browser. Everything was accessible at the press of a button, including a sneak-peek into the lives of your virtual friends via something called a “social network”. At the beginning, it was wonderful. You could stay in touch with your friends without having to incur exorbitant phone charges. You could make friends you would never meet in real life.
Just a few years later, social networks multiplied faster than a bunch of rabbits on Viagra. Soon there were websites for your musical tastes, for sharing photographs, for professional networking, for thoughtlessly dumping your brainfarts on the internet for posterity. And everywhere you look, you could see people getting promoted, people enjoying a luxurious vacation on an exotic island, people buying fancy cars and eating at ridiculously overpriced restaurants.
And that is when our innate, dormant insecurities and envy started to resurface.
Rewinding a bit, to when I first discovered the joy of having the option to decide which channel to watch. That was a pretty tough era for my parents. Dad was earning ~₹5,000 per month. And he had a young kid and a toddler to take care of. And luck wanted to test his mettle, so he contracted Tuberculosis, which in 1995, was a pretty deadly disease. So he would basically get up at 4 for his daily army drill, then come back home for a quick breakfast, go back for 9 hours of duty, then off to the hospital for treatment, and then come back home to a stupid 5-year old and a bawling 1-year old. A good month was where the money lasted till the 20th.
18 years later, I came to Mumbai for my first job. A couple of months into it, my dad asked me to save some for my little sister’s college fees. I remember saying yes but feeling enraged inside. “All my life I have been studying, working my ass off to land a comfortable job. Now is my time to revel a bit and now this?” I was furious because I had planned to go on an international vacation, but the fee would set me back by almost a year in terms of planning and saving. A lot of my friends and batchmates were already there. After all, there is a certain lure that accompanies your first big paycheck.
I left my house at around 10 in the night and found a seat at the nearest pub. After a couple of hours of drinking alone to “drown my pain”, it dawned on me. The magnitude of my selfishness. The enormity of my dickery.
Here was a man who had toiled all his adult life for me. He had sacrificed his body, his dreams, and 3 fucking decades of his life. He ensured that I received the best of education, however expensive. I suddenly recollected the moment in the last year of my engineering when I had abruptly asked him for 20K to treat my friends for securing a good MBA seat. He had agreed happily. Or at least I had felt he did. I was way too excited at that time. Now, at around midnight, sitting in a dark pub, with my senses half dulled, I realized that there was a slight pause before he said, “Obviously. I will transfer it tomorrow morning. Have a blast; you’ve earned it!”I had never felt self-loathing so powerful. I paid my bill and walked back home. I took my time, smoked a couple of cigarettes, and tried to control myself from breaking down into tears.
Here I was, earning more in a day than my father did in a month. And I was whining about responsibilities under the influence of a false sense of entitlement when I had neither.
To this date, every time I feel myself losing the grip on reality, my mind wanders to that crazy, eventful night.
And through that personal experience, I realized that the reason behind the perceived torment of the current generation is the fact that we haven’t really witnessed it.
Our sorrow isn’t absolute. Our hurdles aren’t real but simply the lack of smooth sailing. Our happiness is contingent upon others. We are unhappy because others are doing far better than us. Our boon, aka technology, is our curse.
It has brought us closer, but it has also vastly increased our sphere of comparison. Earlier, each village/town/hamlet had that one uber-rich family. But then you looked around and saw that they were the exception. Now that same community is global and the media wouldn’t stop screwing our satisfaction by constantly focusing on the exceptional 1% and how we are not part of it. It looks like “everyone” is successful while the reality is starkly different.
The moment you decide to dam the deluge of such news reports, the instant you start comparing your current life to your past, the minute you stop to evaluate the rewards you are reaping now to the efforts you have put into it and the role that a lot of other people (especially, your family) have played in it, you will find true contentment.
“Our Great Depression is our Lives”, indeed!
Feature image via Video Blocks