We all have our weird little obsessions, or if you want to hype it up, our insights. As some readers may know, part of me is convinced that we’re just repeating the 1980s.
I’ve previously written about the resurgence of 80’s themed TV shows stranger things, and the popularity of previously forgotten acts from that decade who now make a living by playing the Heritage Circuit. Many of them are bands that made their mark back then, retired into obscurity for a few decades and now play at festivals to larger crowds than they enjoyed during their early fame.
Then, in the ultimate form of a horrific homage to a strange decade, we’ve even returned to fret over the long-forgotten possibility of nuclear war, thanks to Putin’s deranged and incompetent land grabbing. The more he feels cornered while his troops lose ground and become a laughing stock, the more likely he is to use a nuclear bomb. Even NATO generals are now openly discussing this grim possibility.
But there was a poll this week that really took me back in time with all the speed of a souped-up DeLorean. According to the National Youth Council, and reported in the Independentlyup to 70 per cent of young Irish people are now seriously considering emigration because they feel there is nothing left for them here.
The cost of living is bad enough and the tuition is exorbitant. But the fact that they’re also the first generation of Irish unlikely to ever own a home is more than enough reason to pack your bags and leave Dodge. I can’t blame them. Can you?
That’s when I started feeling déjà vu, because when I left school in 1989, all we had was the option of emigrating.
In fact, I had a careers adviser who doused our career aspirations with cold water and simply told us that by the time we got our Leaving Cert results, half of us would be in the UK or US. It was a rather brutal and rather unwelcome assessment – but it wasn’t wrong.
A lot of us realized back then that we simply had more chances of getting a job in London or New York than performing in Dublin.
That’s why today I feel genuine sympathy for young people and, like any true sci-fi nerd, I even have a term for it – the subtle catchphrase of Battlestar Galactica: “All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.”
We didn’t think it would happen again, but this is the swamp we’re in now. I’ve had several friends leave our shores with their last words that went something like, “I’m never coming back to that kip.”
Admittedly, that had just as much to do with the extortionate price of an airline ticket – it should be noted that Michael O’Leary never received the credit he deserved for democratizing air travel. After all, an Aer Lingus flight to London cost £300 back then.
But their feelings and resentments were real when half a generation of our best and brightest moved abroad for a better life. It was a brain drain like we’ve never seen before.
Well we see it now. But the difference between then and now is stark – where do you want to emigrate? In the bad old days of the 80’s and early 90’s the most popular destinations were America and England; they were the land of milk and honey compared to the rather desolate wasteland in which we lived.
Nowadays? New York, the place I love most and have always considered the greatest city in the world, has become a criminal hellhole, and while the pre-Giuliani era of NYC was lawless, the situation is even worse now. Where I used to bite off the hand of anyone who offered me a visit, I would think twice now. LA is just as bad and San Francisco is worse.
Does moving to a post-Brexit London fill anyone with joy? In all honesty, the whole country seems to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown, and leaving seems a pretty daunting task than it used to be. A rock and a hard place; the frying pan and the fire – these are the options successive governments have offered our children.
But it should also be remembered that it is not just the young people. In an almost direct replay of the 1980s, a friend of mine went to London to work for an English newspaper. He came home when things were going well, but when business dried up… he returned to London at 53 because it was the only place he could find work. Moving abroad at a young age is tough but still an adventure. Moving abroad for a second time at 50 is tough, but he has lost his sense of adventure – now all he feels is a sense of despondency and failure.
But while the options aren’t as attractive today as they were then, I would advise any young person to pack their bags and book their tickets.
And that’s a damn shame.
Do we all want to live in a dystopian cashless society?
The first time I came across the phrase “cashless society” was on a flight to the US, where you had to use a credit card to buy a beer or a glass of wine with dinner.
I figured it was just a fad or a way for the airline to stop employees from pocketing dollars but as usual I was wrong.
Because we now seem to have entered an almost completely cashless society. This fact struck me when I recently ventured into a barber shop for my annual haircut, only to find that they didn’t have a card machine and only accepted cash.
Of course, I didn’t have any cash in my wallet and had to go to the passport machine.
What surprised me was my own surprise at such a radical departure from normal payment rules.
It was one of the least recognized outcomes of the pandemic – people have been urged to use cards instead of notes to help prevent the virus from spreading, and what seemed like a temporary measure seems to be here to stay.
Of course, there are disputes over privacy and government surveillance, and while I’m fairly doubtful the government cares if I use my card to buy a loaf of bread at Tesco, there are legitimate concerns.
But aside from my abundance of libertarian quirks, I just prefer to know how much I have in my wallet.
As someone who is absolutely useless with money – my accountant absolutely hates me – withdrawing a limited amount of cash means I can’t go wild.
But there’s another objection: This could herald the end of tipping. After all, it’s easy to leave some loose change for serving staff in bars and cafes, but how often do you think about tipping just by tapping your card or phone?
No, I’m sticking with cash as long as I can, a lot.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/emigrants-in-this-brain-drain-face-a-tougher-choice-than-in-the-1980s-41994131.html Emigrants in this brain drain face a harder choice than they did in the 1980s