I feel a deep pain for the youth of today, who will definitely not have the same opportunities to travel and explore the world in the way I got to. They’re never going to experience what it was like to live in the middle of nowhere in Asia. No bars on your Nokia brick and the only way to contact home was on a crackling line for a penny a minute, a 45-minute walk into the nearest village or by letter, 3 weeks after sending.
Our ability to connect with the world from the comfort of our own sofa seems to mean there is nothing ‘new’ to be discovered. It is right there in a little box on Instagram and for those brave enough to venture out and do it there feels a necessity to share our screens with our homes. Gone are the days of writing ridiculously long letters full of illustrations home to your pals and ma, instead you can just shove it up on your story for all 1,298 followers to appreciate or perhaps just a wee private pic of the state your feet are in from hiking up this mountain to your 58 close friends.
That’s the thing that was so amazing about when you got to be away from the place you’ve grown up, or the people that know you before the smartphone era. There was no prior conception of who you were or what you should be doing so you could just be there, wherever there might be, and do what they were doing. You could completely submerge yourself in a new reality, a new culture and then you could just tap into different parts of yourself, that you never even knew were there before.
We need that. Complete isolation, not like Covid iso, but like separation of our everyday lives. Connection to our alone selves. Our no phone selves.
The world is a very different place. And now that Covid-19 has taken over our physical and mental spaces, are the youth going to ever truly get to enjoy that freedom?
Are they ever going to be able to get a part time job and save to travel across continents? Or will the deadly pandemics, overpopulation and the global warming that are destroying our planet and natural environment create such a hostile environment that they will only get to experience the outback over zoom?
It is scary to think about our futures, because the present seems so bleak.
Bee Asha Singh
Header image via Birmingham Museums Trust