Firstly, greetings to all frustrated 21st-century millennials and those Gen Z who are contemplating the next steps of life, but deterred by the prospects of a world wracked by n-COVID, climate change and not to say the mindless violence in the name of nationalism, religion, race, caste and gender. Cheers to us for having arrived at this point in a life filled with the frustration of increasing carbon footprint and the uncertainty of life. You might be wondering what Cheers? Cheers, for what? Frustration? LOL.
This is not going to be any philosophical or post-modernist or any fancy sociological/ academic examination of the current era. Rather it’s a rant. You heard it right. R-A-N-T. Because I find fewer reasons to celebrate the stage of my life and the current neoliberal free market-led world and more reasons to rant. Rant for this stage of life at 25 years. Rant at the prospects of the future looking back at you with sarcastic and gleeful laughter. Rant as you see your classmates from school tying the knot and feel the pressure. The pressure of the time that you are no longer a carefree teenager but an adult. Spiderman said, ‘With Great Power Comes Great Possibility’. I say ‘With 21st-century Millennial Adulthood Comes Impossible Responsibility’. Impossible.
The first challenge is marriage and that too in the age of speed dating, blind dating and what else blasphemous stuff? Then add the vast array of unusual identities of asexual and pentasexual and whatnot. Let’s assume you meet the love of your life (on Tinder, Jeevansathi.com) or ‘arranged’ (by society) then next you have to deal with the question of the compatibility of jobs, job timings and most importantly, which city will host the newlywed couple for the odd number of years? Will the rent houses and apartments in the city be liberal or impose hostel-kind rules like a deadline of 10 pm, no party, no chicken, no pet, no Netflix? These are nothing when compared to the most horrific and diabolical question of all Khush khabri kab doge? (When will we get the good news?). Good news for society and bad news for millennial parents. Kids. That too in this rising prices, declining climate, pandemic driven and politically unstable world. Why punish these poor souls? Then the family Shastriji (Family Hindu priest) will say, ‘By not bringing children you are committing the crime of not allowing your pitras (the souls of ancestors) to take re-birth through you’. Why punish our ancestors by letting them in this world? They lived happy lives in Satya, Treta and Dwapar Yugas (in the case of Treta and Dwapar when Ramayana and Mahabharata take place respectively, one can say comparatively better than our current Kali Yuga).
And suppose, Gen Z (x) (x denotes the number of generations) is brought to this world, they will all grow up to be cyborgs− mini versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. Millennials will understand when I say one only needs to take a glance at their nephews and nieces who even before joining pre-school are watching videos on YouTube. Toddlers in their Kindergarten who should be watching Chota Bheem and co, are watching Mirzapur and Game of Thrones along with their parents who are too lazy to stop the TV or watch educational cartoons like Little Ganesha until their kid falls asleep after which one can watch any content ranging from Bombay Love to Naughty America (not sorry for mentioning ‘adult sites’ as this is a rant. Parents if you think your kid will be spoilt after reading my article don’t worry, he must be enjoying Sunny and Mia while you are out of the house). Kids of Gen Z (x) due to their exposure to social media and perhaps changed environmental conditions, evolve much faster than the mind can fathom as you see 12-year-old girls asking for ‘sugar daddy’ (seriously even I don’t know what that is. Old generation guy from Gen Y). And they are all cyborgs. Notice your nephew or niece in any wedding or other social gathering and he/she will be busy stuck to the screen of their parent’s smartphone. Snatch the phone and see the way they come chasing after their parents faster than Steven Spielberg’s raptors in Jurassic Park. And with double ferocity. Keeping these things in mind then why should we bring a kid in such times? Why?
The most important part of my rant is the rant on today’s 21st-century neo-liberal world. I and many of those guys who took up Humanities by listening to Aamir Khan’s dialogue on following one’s passion in 3 Idiots (2009) are now wondering where to pursue our passion when entrepreneurs and data scientists rule the roost with us staring blankly in the job market and having zero prospects. Where most people are fans of Shark Tank India then who will even look at us fans of The Discovery of India (Those with MA in History, Political Science, Sociology etc)? You will say the traditional time-tested diktat bestowed by history− do PhD or UPSC ki taiyaari karo (prepare for UPSC). Both are like Chakravyuhs (battle formations). Either you come out as a victor or remain trapped within it completely cut off from the world, from life. The ‘forced’ renunciation of life as opposed to the one driven by spiritualism in the Vedic era. You remain buried in books, newspapers, journals and publications as your frustration increases with every report to be submitted to the PhD panel or whenever the results of the Prelims are out.
Some, unable to bear the frustration either tie the knot as you are in dire need of a partner or else tread upon the, appropriating Robert Frost, ‘the road frequently travelled by’. What is the road frequently travelled by? Corporate slavery, of course, you dummy. 9 to 5 jobs with the cubicle as your only world, assignments, appraisals, scrutinization by the Human Resources (HR) department, extra work on Sundays and most importantly, the goal of life being only to fulfil the diktats of the tie-wearing black coat akkaah (master). Family and social life? LOL. Say goodbye to these fairytales foolish corporate slave. Not to mention the tacit competition and office politics going on within the skyscrapers of Noida or Mumbai− the urge to out-perform the other in terms of ‘efficiency’ or pleasing the boss, the one who can achieve the feat of submitting even ‘extra work’ in time in addition to the given tasks, the urge to be crowned ‘Employer of the Month’ etc.
Who’s Laughing there? Why are you laughing you foolish PhD or aspiring academician? Your life is no better. Determined as it is by a number called Academic Performance Index (API). Like the corporate slave, you or we are slaves of the ‘hallowed halls of Academia’ where you ‘publish or perish’. We have entered the race to publish ‘cutting-edge’ research as we are expected to become Einstein, Newton, William Dalrymple, and John Mearsheimer overnight. And what are we teaching? Theoretical stuff which sounds only good within the confine of campuses. Outside the campus gate, the theories are good enough jokes to be cracked in Stand-Up Comedy Shows. Not to mention the stifling of academic freedom by both the governments as well as the ‘gatekeepers’ of academia as to what you can write, which topics should be explored, whether your language is ‘academic’ or not and how to and what to think. All the while, the outside technocratic and neo-liberal world goes unbothered by the theories of Marx, Weber, Durkheim etc.
At this point, I miss ‘Valhalla’. Yes, the afterlife of the Northern Vikings. Better life than the one we currently live in today’s time. No climate change, no pandemic, no rising prices. If you want anything hunt or sail off to far-away lands in your longboats. Or you have the village community to help you tide over any crisis. No tacit competition (of today’s density at least). No need to bow before corporate slave owners or the Lords of academia. Pick up your sword, axe or club and just walk off in search of glory? What if dead or are executed by the enemy kingdom? At least one shall go to Valhalla, the Odin’s Hall (Odin the supreme GOD of the Norse pantheon) where there is dining, feasting and fighting; with beautiful Valkyries (winged maidens) offering wine. You are even escorted by Valkyries to Asgard, the realm of Norse Gods.
Better become a legend by dying a glorious death on the battlefield rather than miserably in a hospital bed after 30 years of corporate slavery. Become the legend of Skald’s (bard) poems rather than just another death certificate of the 21st century to be forgotten soon. Better than being a frustrated academic with no capacity to bring change, at least by being a drengr (Norse warrior) one can sack kingdoms and even establish new lands like Vinland named after oneself. Now you will say− Stop romanticizing the past. What if you are born as a woman or a thrall (slave) in the Viking era? Surely, that would have been much worse than today’s millennial life. Yes, but given the low life expectancy there, a thrall or woman would depart soon than today’s time when pharma companies are manufacturing medicines not just to save lives but to prolong the lives of millennial slaves. What’s the difference? Even women took part in raids and reached Valhalla at least. Besides, as per a meme on a Medieval History page, the medieval peasant, although oppressed, enjoyed more holidays than today’s corporate cubicle-chained slave. The Church believed that by giving more holidays people with better spirits became more productive. Take that millennial.
Yeah, let me romanticize about becoming Ragnar Lothbrok, Ivar the Boneless or Leif Ericson. Let me romanticize about dying in battle after having felled fifty Saxon knights alone. Let me romanticize about being taken to Valhalla by beautiful Valkyries who would put Tinder and Instagram models to shame. Let me romanticize being welcomed by Odin into the Halls of Valhalla. Let me romanticize dining, feasting, and fighting with the Einherjar (the spirits of fallen warriors) till the onset of Ragnarok (The end of time). Let me romanticize. What else can a millennial like me do? Romanticize on how to escape being the slave of a corporation as we await the doom-bringing asteroid to strike us down like in the 2021 movie Don’t Look Up. Finally, let me end my rant with the lyrics from the song Valhalla Calling composed by Miracle of Sound
- ‘Norse Mythology Stories: The Essential’, See U in History/ Mythology (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW1yaJWWgpw).
- ‘Sapne, Ummede aur Nakami: UPSC ke Asafal Aspirants ki Safal Kahaniya’, The Print (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thEDLya_Syc).
- ‘The Vikings: Who Were They?’, BBC Documentary, Discovery Channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkJy1b4q3WU&t=94s).
- ‘Valhalla Calling’ by Miracle of Sound, 2021 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxptIpCYAJA).