This month a Millennial and a Traditionalist go head-to-head over lockdown measures
It is an act of utmost cruelty to lock up anybody who has not committed a crime. But perhaps we in our twilight years have committed a crime: that of being old. It is not something we can help, and today’s gilded youth will themselves be old one day, unthinkable as that may seem.
And while it is truly awful that young people are being forced into lockdown when they are very unlikely to succumb to Covid, it is far, far worse for us, their grandparents. True, the youngsters have had a mighty setback, but they will recover and fun and adventure will return. Young people are resilient and optimistic and have all their lives ahead of them. We don’t have that many years left and personally, I don’t buy into the idea that simply because we have accumulated a certain number of years, we are therefore “vulnerable”.
Of course, old people are more likely to die than young ones. That has always been the case and the virus won’t change it. But in common with many septuagenarians these days I am as fit and healthy as I was 30 or 40 years ago. I have no underlying conditions and I am as unlikely to go down with Covid or give it to anybody else as a 20-year-old. And yet I am forced into isolation as though I have a deadly plague. The message we are receiving is, should our grandchildren be foolhardy enough to step inside our homes and hug us, we will all die instantly. What utter nonsense. The chances of this happening are, quite honestly, zero.
We have been in solitary confinement for over a year now, with no prospect of parole
Over the past year, the lives of many older people have contracted to virtually nothing and the small pleasures that we once enjoyed, and which gave meaning to our lives, such as going to the gym, having a coffee with a friend or playing bridge, have all been snatched away leaving nothing in their place. I have friends who are 70 and over who have sunk into deep and lasting depression because they can no longer go swimming; the one activity they felt made life worthwhile.
Youngsters are complaining about the toll of lockdown on their mental health, but what about our mental health, which tends to deteriorate with declining years anyway? We crave human contact as much as they do; perhaps more so because we are not so used to communicating on social media. Also, many of us live alone and may not have spoken to another person for weeks. We have been in solitary confinement for over a year now, with no prospect of parole. Life will open up again for the young. For us, I fear it never will.
As a 24-year-old recent Classics graduate, I can tell you it’s not easy finding a job in the current climate. Everywhere I look, the evidence that there once was a job is there, but I’m all too late to get it. At university I liked the image of myself as a journalist, a financial PR person or working at a world-changing ethical start-up in New York. So it’s been difficult retreating to my childhood bedroom that proudly displays my B-team cricket photos on the wall, where I look for jobs until supper’s ready.
It’s awful for my generation’s mental health being stuck at home with our parents. How are we meant to survive without our Tinder dates, our pubs and our gigs? I love my 84-year-old granny and want to safeguard her health, but I’ll do that by staying away from her and anyone over 45, not by staying away from my friends.
I know that Covid is a deadly virus – over 100,000 people have died from it in the UK. But it’s only a deadly virus among age groups above 30. So why should my generation be trapped at home where the dishwasher has to be constantly unloaded? Or in cramped,
overpriced student flat-shares with no sitting rooms where you can’t get out to a boozer to put the world to rights.
We’re not snowflakes, we’re immune and desperate to have a life
And the world is definitely not in good shape at the moment! The economy is facing the largest recession in 300 years and my generation can play its part. We could turn cities and towns into Millennial metropolises to pour our disposable income down the drain. We would run the venues as the rest of the population would be at home, and we would have a livelihood: a job, friends and things to do. Doesn’t that make great sense?
The virus has swept through universities across the country and the only evidence to show that is not deaths, but dire Millennial mental health. My generation has had to sacrifice their entire life for a virus that is very unlikely to kill them. On top of that, being unemployed and single with no freedom has destroyed our motivation: The Lancet Psychiatry published a paper showing that the increase in “psychological distress” was greatest in the 18-24 age bracket.
We should be doing what we do best: exploring coffee shops in Shoreditch, trading vintage clothes and working hard to earn a crust. We’re not snowflakes, we’re immune and desperate to have a life. And what’s more, everyone else won’t know about our existence because you will very sensibly be locked up at home. So how about it? An immune metropolis for the young to work hard and play harder.