Generational anxiety

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Lately, there have been a lot of awkward conversations, both real and imagined, writes Kate Oktay. 

Kate Oktay
Kate Oktay
"Why is it dark time?"

my daughter asked at 10am earlier this month.

"It’s not dark," I said. "There’s a lovely, apocalyptic-yellow sky."

"What’s apocaclicktic?"

"Um ... Wow, look at the cat on the chair, she’s so funny. Hey, do you want an ice-cream?"

I suppose every generation has its own anxiety. World Wars, the cold war, Korea and Vietnam, not to mention that many other countries have experienced an awfulness beyond anything anyone in the West has lived through recently. But right now there is a feeling that dark, cataclysmic clouds are looming menacingly on the world’s horizon, and it all seems a little bit, umm, endish.

Of course, not for everybody. For those who aren’t "believers" in climate change or that humanity is destroying the planet they live on, it’s ace. Another sweet day, driving around, worry-free in an SUV in the city, listening to NewstalkZB, casually eating individually plastic-wrapped, Monsanto-sprayed almonds shipped from a country whose environment they are helping to destroy, while planning a four-day overseas holiday in Bali. Really, except for the radio station, that genuinely sounds pretty nice.

But an impressive mental leap, considering you know, science, and numbers, and physical evidence, and A WHOLE COUNTRY ON FIRE.

It’s like people who believe in magic and spell it with a "k". Again (aside from the spelling, which should be an imprisonable offence), that must be kind of great.

“Well, yes, Sharon, things were looking pretty grim after I didn’t show up to work for 14 days and they fired me, but I just went home and whipped up a Banishing Spell, so I will just wait for it all to sort itself out over the next few days.”

Who doesn’t think that sounds nice? No-one, that’s who. It’s just that for most people, by day four sitting on the couch eating chippies and watching daytime television, the thought would be starting to creep in that perhaps the sticks with ribbons tied to them purchased from may not be working.

I have a lot of admiration for the mental gymnastics that not believing in reality must require. And, it has got to be much better than the low-key anxiety and background hum of helplessness that the rest of us are living with.

But for the remainder of the population, watching the planetary floods-and flames theme of 2020, and in quiet moments wondering how we are going to explain this whole shit-fire to our grandchildren, it’s not so chill.

“I’m really sorry about my part in the alarmingly regular, climate change-driven natural disasters we are getting lately, and that half the people in your class come from a country that was once a tropical paradise and is now entirely under the ocean, but I really liked all that plastic for the 20 seconds I used it before chucking it in the landfill, upgrading technology every six months, new $5 tee-shirts on a weekly basis, and cheap overseas holidays."

These aren’t good conversations. A better conversation is: “Yes, it is, and was, terrible, but it was actually all someone else’s fault."

So, because of this, despite my natural inclination to see a problem and then pretend I didn’t so I don’t have to do anything, I am going to spend this year trying. I am going to try to leave a lighter footprint. I am going to try to do a little bit towards a more sustainable way of living. And then I am going to tell you all about it. Every month, for the next 10 months.

All the things I have been feeling quietly guilty about doing, or not doing, I am going to try to do something about.

Then, at some point in the future, when I have the conversation that everyone over the age of 15 should be anticipating, I will have at least some valid rejoinders for the accusations that are coming our way.

By that time of course, New Zealand will probably be filled with American tech-bros and the billionaire class that created this architecture of waste in the first place. So, we should all be doing something to differentiate ourselves from the extended Trump family that we will be sharing our shores with.

Let’s place the blame for this whole mess where it belongs, on someone else.





Magicka de Spell apologies to a tv host and a technician.

• I am so sorry for Spellcasting the joint, which made home traders behave unprofessionally, as was captured by your cameras •

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