The world around is collapsing but my friends are sitting in the living room with cups of tea telling stories from uni while a YouTube video fades away into the background. This is a brief moment of joy that life affords me, the realisation sinks in.
I think about how once I’m back home, I’ll spend endless hours on the internet doomscrolling, to the point where I won’t be able to tell the difference between my thumb and my phone; my arm feeling an extension of this device that keeps me updated but makes me want to not exist all the same.
When did every notification ping become an opportunity to know the world more, to stay updated, and relevant but know less of myself, less of my own limitations, my own convoluted sense of empathy?
In the past two years, I’ve seen World War III trend far too many times than one would expect. The Middle East is burning, but we don’t care. Ukraine’s invasion gets called an invasion while the US continues to liberate Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and far too many countries that I can’t keep a count of. In fact, I can hardly even tell the difference anymore.
I turn apathetic at one point, my rage limited to a few seconds. It fizzles out faster than I can write the word fizzle. I feel guilty. I don’t know what to make of my guilt. So I decide to watch an Uncle Roger video on YouTube.
The world around is burning, but I have articles to write. It all feels pointless if you ask me. People are struggling to seek refuge, sleeping in snow, these are uncertain times. Uncertain times where every mail reads ‘in these unprecedented times’ but everyone expects you to function at high productivity. Spin together lines, churn this article, words matter, even if we feel like we’re floating in an existential pool.
Who will read these words? Should I apply sunscreen each morning as another person loses their home? Does it even matter in the grand scheme of things?
At 2 AM I Google, “When will the world end?.” Every day seems a likely end. I stumble across the meme “has anyone felt alive since 2012?” a direct reference to the rumoured Mayan calendar predicted apocalypse. I think to myself at least we have memes. We might not understand the world, but we have memes.
I reflect back on being 14 in 2012, a decade goes by and not much changes. We still think we have years, climate change isn’t real (science can be contested, right?). Social media will tell us both sides of the coin, we can pick, and choose what to believe.
In conversations with friends, this sense of existentialism prevails. We discuss world politics time and again, we talk about capitalism and how we wish we didn’t have to work, we talk about how the pandemic stole our best years, about how an orange-clad man just got another term in CM’s office, about the latest Kanye-Pete feud, about that Jacquemus bag which just isn’t in our budget. These are strange times, I wish I didn’t exist, I wish I had a better salary, I wish I could get the limited edition Sally Rooney collection.
Are we sure this isn’t just a simulation? We still have time right? Are we still the change we wish to see?
If you enjoyed this piece we recommend you check out: