Loadsamoney And The Greener Grass On Grindr
3 Oct 2019
These days, appearance really seems to matter. Looking suave, feelin’ fine - your labels show the world you’ve got this life thing locked down.
Looking clean and serene while rolling in green is the scent of the day in an era when we're filmed and photographed at every turn. Consequently, fashion-related pressure is real. It really does cause feelings of isolation and despair, especially among teens. But as us oldies can attest - this isn't a new deal.
Fashion has always divided us. Since top hats and flat caps drew lines between the haves and have nots, sports, social strata, and rival factions have long done the same. Brits have always used clothes to make statements about who we are, what we have, and what we represent.
And while today's surplus choice seems to raise the stakes, losing social points is arguably better than losing teeth.
Because back int’ day, Britain had real problems with fashion-related fisticuffs. The mods hated the rockers; who hated the goths. Everyone hated the new romantics … warring fashion factions liked to make their points with fists and weapons, not shade on social media.
Today, around 20% of the UK population – or 13m people – live on or below the poverty line. And with all the ‘optional’ extras we’re obliged to snap up, we’re forever stretched in trying to cover tech, trips, streaming services, gym memberships, broadband, TV and the rest.
This is the era of debt, payday loans and we've seen a mighty surge in gambling. People's need to get ahold of extra cash has never been higher and it’s all just a massive stress.
But are today's lot so unique?
Of course not. It might nigh-on impossible to get by without an iPhone or Netflix but those things are not what you'd call the basics. And in 1995, nearly one in four people struggled to pay for those basics: food, rates and services, and white goods.
Indeed back in 1995, 25% of the UK population was below the poverty line. Buying items on hire purchase (paying in installments) hit record new highs in the 90s.
So we might feel like we've had a tough ten years – what with all the recession and austerity and debt and Brexit and a crashing pound – but there was tangibly less cash a generation ago, when the average annual wage was about £15,500.
Today it's less about the basics: it’s often about what we want to afford, rather than what we can.
Is the grass greener on Grindr?
In 2019, spousal separation topped a list of the most stressful life events. Fair comment, it's hugely unpleasant. But it might surprise you to hear that, as of 2018, divorce rates were at their lowest in half a century - and they're still dropping.
So are relationships more stressful in 2019? The stats don't suggest it. In fact, along with sliding divorce rates we're marrying later, and, generally speaking, have never been freer to explore sexualiy. In general terms, there's much more relaxed societal attitudes around relationships and sex.
So the much-cited ‘stress’ around relationships might, again, be more about that FOMO thing. We’re crippled and distracted by choice - we want what we don’t have (and we know where to get it). Experimentation is just a download away.
Nip back to the mid 90s and it was a different story. The divorce rate was up at a whopping 55%, a result of early marriage misfires and us Brits – believe it or not – with our rather uptight opinions re sex … and sexuality. It was far harder to be LGBTQ in the 90s. Reform in this area, arguably, only started in 1994 when the legal age of consent for gay couples dropped from 21 to 18.
Brexit, Brexit, Brexit … you’ve read enough about it. And that’s exactly our point. Condemned by many as the biggest political blunder in modern UK history, there’s no escaping the big B-word. And it doesn't look like we'll be returning to normal – whatever that means – any time soon.
It’s a stressful time for citizens, business owners, migrants, families. Everyone. But it's by no means Britain’s first serving of political pandemonium.
The Poll Tax of 1990 caused quite the social stir. In the run-up to implementation, the idea of a new personal tax rubbed beleaguered Brits up the wrong way, so much so that sporadic rioting and violence broke out all over the country.
We haven’t seen - and certainly don’t advocate - any Brexit-related rioting so this indicates that while nerves are certainly frayed over our impending EU departure, we haven’t yet been rubbed so raw we’re picking up pitch forks to march on London. Let’s just hope this remains the case.
They took our jobs
We mention rioting over the Poll Tax, but go back slightly further and we'll see another instance where things boiled over as a changing economic climate and the rise of the machines made a generation of workers nervous.
In the 1980s we had strikes, pickets, three-day weeks and riots associated with the demise of heavy industry, steel and mining especially.
While people in 2019 might be forgiven for thinking that jobs are pointless because AI and machines will soon be doing it all for us, similar dynamics played out a couple of decades ago when a shelf of industrial workers fell to automation and cheap overseas production.
While AI is subtly eating into the economy each and every day, we're not yet seeing the same mass job losses associated with the demise of British industry.
The point is that we are indeed stressed these days. There’s a lot to worry us and the additional and omnipotent social pressures can’t be underestimated.
But thinking we had it better in the 90s – or indeed any generation prior – is erroneous. Take off those rose-tinted 3D specs for a minute and we realise that, in many respects, we’ve been here before.
Sure, life today isn’t perfect, but when was it ever?
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