We had a clear out of some old tat today. Nothing special, just junk. In fact there's nothing unusual about this anecdote (such as it is) at all save for the fact that the family member I live with was asked, as I was called to help out (not a problem), whether I had a job. Fortunately my appearance headed off that discussion, not least of all because it's not the place of the removal's person to ask, in my opinion.
Now you might think it a perfectly reasonable question, and in a more tolerant and less judgemental age I might agree. Why should I be held up to scrutiny by any old tradesman that my parent is paying for? Is it because I, a 'grown man' (not sure what the quotes are for, as I am both adult and male) live with a parent? Unemployed too? Oh dear, this will exercise the church elders.
But really why do we get so invested in how other people live? So what if I live with a parent? Is that, across the rest of human society in the world, so unusual (it may well be, I'm no anthropologist)? What business is it of anyone else's? I cook and buy my own food, I wear and clean my own clothes, I keep my room clean and tidy, I don't have offencive posters of pop stars on the walls, nor does my property have a lingering smell of hash and lots of blim holes. I help out, I don't keep bizarre hours nor behave in an antisocial way. What's the problem?
We have peculiar sensitives in this society and we don't seem to consider the lives or history of others. I'm not posting this to exorcise my guilt; in fact any that I do feel is merely the weight of transient social expectations. We live the way we do because of a confluence of values, means and technology. In a century or even a thousand years from now things will be remarkably different and no less valid. But as a society we are incapable of taking such a broad view; we only think in terms of the here and now.
You could reasonably argue that I should 'fledge', leave the nest like a bird. That's all fine and good, but birds don't have to rely on money to acquire the worms they eat, nor the twigs and branches they make their nests with. We have a society based on finance that is beyond the reach of most people; deliberately so. We require shelter and then make it so the only way one can buy their own house is to agree to a huge burden that will take years (subject to the vagaries of international banking of course) to meet. Houses are not immediately affordable and are the most important thing anyone will ever buy. Even renting isn't the same and most serious people consider renting a poor substitute for ownership. Yet we allow people to buy multiple houses solely to let and wonder why communities die. We are compelled to live apart from our parents and start our own families and then invite them back to be part of that. I don't want kids, and I can say that with absolute conviction. Bringing kids into this world seems to me a most cruel and selfish act largely to win the approval of others/family. Some think that's their only purpose in life.
Of course none of this takes into account personal circumstances. The tradesman makes what he regards as an honest enquiry, but to what end? I can imagine in his mind the disapproval 'should be working son, shouldn't be a burden'. A burden? Is this what life has become? If your contribution, as measured by the ruling elite, is deemed to be net negative then you are a burden, regardless of who you are what you do and what you are interested in. We don't care if you help wash the floor, clean the plates, or wipe the toilet (all of which I'm quite happy to do), you are not living in your own property with 2.5 kids a wife and, importantly, a mortgage - and of course a job to pay it all off. So in other words, if you don't owe us some money and aren't paying enough of it back (not too much) you can expect to be questioned about your life.
But the tradesman doesn't know I might have a learning disability, and/or a neurodiverse condition, he doesn't understand the upbringing I have had or the difficulties within my own family. I'm not going into all that here, that would be too self indulgent. But the point is, we all live complex lives trying to toe the line and trying to do what, largely, other people seem to want us to do. Some of us have strong helpful families. Some of us know the right people. Some of us just struggle. The weight of expectation is the same regardless. Society isn't a two way street and there's no room to negotiate, not that you're even told how. You have to sink or swim, and if, like me, you found learning to swim particularly difficult (I can still smell the sharp tang of chlorine as swimming pool water went up my nose) then it's tough, and tough shit.
Even the world of work is not exempted. Like the property game, we are, upon reaching maturity, suddenly expected to 'pay our way'. We're brought into this world and in short order handed the bill as if we've been left at the table in a restaurant by the people we're dining with and expected to handle the cheque. There's no help in this even though a vast expensive and greedy industry exists to capitalise on unemployment. It's big business, just like the mortgage industry. Yet even when you try and engage with this beast you have no cache; it's one sided entirely. Society wants you to pay your way (again, debt) and then all but sabotages your efforts for doing so. Meanwhile the tabloids the politicians and the great and the good, who are so well versed at 'do as i say, not as I do', are all there to criticise your failings. We are the authors of our own demise; is it any wonder people end up at weekends on the razzle numbing their brains with beer and drugs.
Instead of deploring those of us whose curtains aren't open by the appointed hour (mine usually are, by me in fact, since the family member I live with is retired and has every right to lie in) are chastised. We, the unemplouyed, are continually regarded as doing nothing but supporting the daytime TV industry. You have to wonder if all those companies happy to advertise and sponsor the likes of Jeremy Kyle, This Morning, Trisha or whatever (I don't know because I don't watch that shit!) realise what a moral tightrope they are walking. It's ok to make money out of these people, it's just not ok to be one of them. They are the social undead. The zombies of society.
I don't half ramble on. This is so self indulgent!
I don't half ramble on. This is so self indulgent!