Before I go to bed, I check my phone for messages, e-mail, and other notifications. I check my calendar to ensure that I have everything planned for the next day, and that I have not forgotten anything.
Also before I go to bed, I check YouTube for new videos and Netflix for episodes of shows I might be watching or might have missed. If both are duds, I spend about an hour, at the least, scrolling my Facebook newsfeed.
Usually, I forget to turn “night mode” on, which is supposed to help me sleep better.
By the time this technological routine has been completed, it is close to 1am. By the time I close my eyes, I go through the agenda for the day after all over again in my head: Meetings to be had, calls to be made, errands to be run, messages to be sent, e-mails to be received, people to be socialised with. By the time I fall asleep, at least half an hour has passed.
The age of anxiety
My routine is as common as the number of people who inhabit the millennial generation. While it is difficult to appreciate, most of the time, the so-called “spoilt” nature of the younger generation, who in many ways have been given exactly the things the previous generation struggled so hard for, it is perhaps a direct result of this that we now find ourselves in the company of a deeply restless group of 20somethings.
That’s where the age of anxiety lies, between the nascent eruptions of a young adult and the burgeoning worries of a 21st century youth in his late twenties, and the more time passes, the more does the range increase.
But why has this happened? If we have everything, been given everything, and the world remains our oyster, with so many more opportunities than could ever have been imagined in the past, what exactly are we worried about?
Anxiety and depression, they bleed invisibly, across a people and downwards into progeny
The solutions, it seems, have become the problem. Yes, we have so much technology that it has come to rule us. Yes, because of social media and instant communication, we are constantly worried about the next message (or lack thereof), and how it might affect our lives. And yes, our lack of struggle physically has led to a psychological struggle that has started to consume us in a way that could not have been predicted.
This is known, and many studies have shown that these habits of millennials are leading to this heightened anxiousness: This includes erratic sleeping patterns and food habits, an overreliance on technology, drinking too much coffee, overworking, and social surroundings, among others.
But, where do we go from here?
A tree falls
Too many choices are not a good thing. And this understanding, to a great extent, extends the divide between generations. Where one struggled to have a piece of bread, the other expects to be sympathised with despite a table creaking under the weight of avocados and sushi.
But this is an epidemic. As it stands, there are millions among us struggling to keep at bay the anxious thoughts which hound us. They are trying to (and failing) to decide what is the right thing to do. If you can be anything, do anything, what do you do, what do you be?
Under the weight of so much knowledge, and for they are in a more public eye, they are forced to suppress these worries. For anything they do results in an immediate massive reaction, one that can be quantified by likes and comments. But there is a paradox: The validation that is provided is also craved.
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there hear it, does it make a sound? If an experience is had, and there is no one to witness it (or take a photo), did it ever happen? We are slowly becoming a generation that is defined by these numbers, which assign objective values to our lives.
And the competition is rough. Sure, everyone is so much “nicer,” but the veneer of pseudo-intellectual faux-empathy is see-through. We understand the intentions and aspirations, for we understand everyone is the same and, as such, expendable. So we strive to stand out, to tread the path less travelled. But there are no path lefts, so, again, where do we go from here?
Problematic is the fact that these worries, they turn into real anxiety, which blooms into depression. While trying to provide the basic amenities (and rightfully so) we have created a generation that could be irrevocably depressed and miserable. They feel like they’ve seen everything, even though they have experienced nothing.
While I would be the last to promote a culture that relies on treating people as being “softer” than they really are, we must at least understand that this has become a real problem, one especially so in a country such as ours where psychological issues and mental health are not taken seriously.
Anxiety and depression, they bleed invisibly, across a people and downwards into progeny. If we’d like a nation that is content and sees purpose in their existence, we might want to think about changing that.
But that might just be impossible. Are we too late, or was it never possible to begin with?
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @snrasul.