The Degeneration of My Generation

Those who tell — and live — the best stories will rule the future.

I’m lucky enough to live in a neighborhood surrounded by half a dozen cafés. I frequent each of them, but there’s one I consider to be my favorite. Let’s call it Shuttleby Coffee. I visit the place almost every night at half past ten. And it’s not because they serve the best latte or iced cappuccino. Far from it. Suffice to say, I can whip up a better brew than what’s on their menu. In my sleep, at that.

Still, I’m one of the regulars at Shuttleby. In a world of noisy, whining, self-entitled SOBs, it has become a respite. The brick-lined walls and, yes, the fact that few customers venture into it at night, make Shuttleby the perfect place to think and read stuff.

But last night, the coziness of Shuttleby has been violated. See, I was sitting in my corner. Again, it was half past ten on a drizzly Tuesday night and I would have enjoyed every moment of silence. But there’s this guy sitting two tables from me and he’s raining down on my parade.

Dude was playing some odd game on his phone. And I’m sure he was having a rough time because it was the third or fourth time he let out a shout of exasperation. Maybe, just maybe, trolls had overrun his camp or something.

Nice. Cute. If you’re in prep school.

The way I saw it, Shuttleby Coffee had turned into an arena between two opposing forces. On one side, there’s me wanting nothing but to be left with my cup and book in silence. On the other, there was the guy who’s bent on disturbing the peace.

It was a stalemate. And no one was there to break the tie.

Of course, I could have walked up to him to tell him in a nice way to STFU. But in this part of the world, doing so could lead to more troubles. His likely reply would have been “I can do whatever I want because I’ve paid for my drink, too, you know!” or “This isn’t the library, you know!”

Just the same, asking the manager to, well, tell the guy in a nice way to STFU wouldn’t have addressed the issue. The guy wasn’t the listening type. Besides, dude paid for his “right” to be there.

If I pressed the issue, his indifference would turn into animosity. His animosity into anger. And I’m way past the age of settling matters with fisticuffs.

Fortunately, universal justice intervened. The last time he shouted, he jerked the table so hard, his cup fell and it broke into tiny little pieces. What remained of his beverage became a part of his evening attire — and for good, I hoped. And it was enough to send him home packing.

I let out a shout of victory. The night was mine. But the joy lasted for only a few moments. What followed was a sense of foreboding.

What would have happened if the situation didn’t end the way it did?

The Age of Indifference

I just can’t stop thinking about what tomorrow will bring. I’m not talking about productivity or personal improvement or financial security. I’m talking about society in general, particularly in a democratic setting like where I’m in now.

There is something obviously wrong with democracy if it comes to mean that ignorance or insensitivity is acceptable just because it’s the in thing to do for some people.

Is it our duty to forget our own sense of right and wrong in favor of what a growing majority of people believe in? What if indifference has become the norm? Should we all become indifferent?

Sense of Self-Entitlement

Entitlement is a nice word. It makes one feel special. But let me tell you a secret — people’s sense of self-entitlement is what’s screwing up our society.

I get it. We’re living in an age of unparalleled progress. Sure, wars, diseases, poverty, and hunger still make the headlines every day. But overall, we are better off now than, say, 50 years ago. For the most part, we are living the good life. We have made giant strides in tech and science. Life expectancy has increased globally. We’re better connected now and we have gained more understanding of ourselves as a species.

As a result, the idea that each one of us is special and unique and free has been drilled down on us growing up. We have become stars in our own little worlds, or at least that’s how so many among us think and feel.

Just look at those group of friends or lovers hogging the entire width of the sidewalk or walkway as they trudge aimlessly, oblivious to the fact that other people also need to pass through the same pavement. And I won’t even talk about drivers who think it’s their inalienable right to occupy the counterflow lane when overtaking which, in the process, puts others in danger. And for what? To save a few seconds and get ahead of everyone else on a bumper-to-bumper traffic? Well, drive an ambulance for f*ck’s sake!

Self-entitlement. It’s ruining us as a species.

It’s easy to point fingers at millennials. But it would be a mistake. It’s true that this so-called “new generation” has a giant-sized sense of self-entitlement. But even older folks are guilty of the exact same thing. I guess, living in an era where you’re basically told you’re super special can make you think you’re above everyone else. But you’re not.

A few weeks ago, a picture of a shell-shocked Syrian boy has been going around online. He didn’t ask for war. But there he was sitting at the back of an ambulance. Unrecognizable. Traumatized. His innocence has left him the moment a bomb exploded right where he lives.

And for what? Other people’s belief that they are special? That they have the right to shove their beliefs and ideals onto others?

Who’s going to tell us when it’s too late? I have no idea. In the meantime, I’ll be stocking up on instant coffee. Shuttleby’s not a good place for me right now.