You’re a big girl now. You’re officially into the last year of your teens. My, haven’t you been a handful! Delightful and delinquent, surprising and tender, lovable and despicable, all at once.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure we’d ever get to celebrate like this. After all those near-miss asteroid collisions and end-of-the-world predictions the old coots of the last century frightened us about, we’re still here to clink glasses and drink to your coming of age. Awesome, isn’t it? Although, I must admit, the profusion of elected dictators with fidgety fingers on nuke buttons still gives me sleepless nights.
It’s been a bumpy few years for the Anthropocene. We’ve put emojis in mobile phones, cameras on Mars, and microplastics in the Mariana Trench. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is so huge now that it’s been divided up into states and districts, and the plastic-eating plankton have invited Elon Musk to be head of state. We’re melting Greenland down to a puddle. We’re evaporating polar bears every time we spray our underarms.
We let Facebook decide who wins elections. And Twitter has become our unfiltered conscience. That said, we’re still suspicious about the fake news that is climate change. It can’t be true — see how cold it’s been this winter. Even Donald Trump tweeted about it. At 3 AM, no less.
AI and Machine Learning are big. Like, really big. We’ve outsourced everything to the machines now and that’s given us so much free time to do the things we love to do. Like shopping online, and trolling celebs, and making cool memes — did you know that you can personalise WhatsApp stickers?
And, look, while you’ve been playing Plants Vs Zombies 2 or binge-watching Game Of Thrones, enterprising people on the other side of the world have been razing rainforests. Not for kicks, but to plant more useful stuff like oil palm, so that you can enjoy your zero-gluten whole-grain sprouted-buckwheat toast with your favourite chocolate spread. And here’s the best part. Marijuana, dude, is legit in the most progressive parts of the world. And all the cool people vape.
It’s sad that not everyone has lucked out on these great leaps we’ve made as a civilisation. Sure, we might have let Dalits down, but don’t forget that our LGBTQ friends got away with abolishing Section 377. We shut our doors to the fleeing Rohingya but we started eating more millets.
This #MeToo business has been a bit of a downer, though. Things aren’t the same back at the office. Wish we could be friends again like we were earlier. Some of these things might shake us a bit, like the odd earthquake reported from a part of the world where we’ll no longer plan a vacation in the near future. Sad about Indonesia, isn’t it? Don’t worry, there’s always Dubai.
But let’s be positive and look at the bright side, right? We’ve got Wi-Fi everywhere. So, coming back to the point, the human race has grown so tough and resilient that we’ve been testing the limits like there’s no tomorrow. Perhaps there isn’t. Then again, we’ve been hurtling towards doom for so long and so busy enjoying the view that we won’t even know when it’s here. Just thinking of that missed selfie-op makes me anxious.
All of this is getting rather gloomy, hey? These are not thoughts we should be thinking in the first month of a brand new year. Let’s put doomsday on the back-burner for a second, shall we? Because we have more imminent catastrophes to worry about.
Like, this election year. In a matter of months, we’ll make a life-or-death choice (maybe a tampered EVM will do the rest). For many of us, who gets our vote is going to be a no-brainer. But for others, it’s going to be a hard choice to exercise. We’ve got stock-market investments to worry about, and jobs to keep, and mouths to feed. Economy over society, bro. How are a few dead cows and a lynched cop going to matter?
Cheers to another Happy New Year!
(A journalist and cartoonist in exile, Bijoy’s enjoying an action-packed career in Corporate Communications as he waits for the storm to blow over)