Story: The government has laid out a "four-part plan" to tackle Coronavirus (Covid-19), after an increased number of cases in the UK.
Reasonable take: Does everyone remember their infant school education re: basic hygiene? "Catch it, bin it, kill it", wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, sneeze into your elbow etc.
Brain rot: Pandemic is it! I have stocked up on hand sanitiser, but I bet the privileged "me" generation, which I have made absolutely no attempt to define but presumably mean vegans and Labour voters under 30, are going to whinge and cough over elderly people intentionally out of spite!!!
This week, Allison Pearson of "normal people don't care about sexual assault because Brexit is more important" fame took to the Telegraph to air another of her strange little opinions. This time, she couldn't help but wonder whether the youth of today – “who have never been denied anything in their privileged lives” – can be relied upon to prevent to spread of coronavirus. For unspecified reasons, she assumes they will be too selfish to wash their hands, self-isolate or not cough directly into the face of an elderly man.
The reality, of course, is that if weren't for the ceaseless grinding cogs of neoliberalism forcing us to churn out cash for our landlord’s Bali getaway, most young people wouldn’t be seen dead out in public during the week, let alone willingly confine themselves with spluttering shirt-and-sheux cunts on public transport. However, after rambling paragraph about going to Waitrose to cop hand sanitiser as a “sensible precaution” – in quaint contrast to her “hypochondriac” friend in America, who purchased five hazmat suits for her family – Pearson doubts whether young people in the UK have the self-sacrificial nature required to curtail a pandemic.
This is exclusively an issue for young people because the boomer generation, of which Pearson is a member, are famously self-sacrificial (see: the exquisite job they have done with the environment). To illustrate this, Person mawkishly recounts the “touching sight” of witnessing a line of women at the hand basins in the John Lewis toilets “all silently mouthing the first verse of 'God Save the Queen' as they soaped fingers and thumbs”. However, this Blitz-spirit cosplay by rich, white ladies in tepid middle-class environments is no match for the “selfish individualism” of “Generation Me”, which Pearson describes as “one of the most aggressive and incurable sicknesses of the modern age”.
Covid-19 vs. Young People for ‘The Intercontinental Aggressive and Incurable Sicknesses of the Modern Age Title’. Fight!
Of course it’s not some cosmic coincidence that when a highly contagious virus emerges and threatens to decimate Britain’s ageing and largely conservative population, the affluent kowtowers of the status quo start banging the drum of collective responsibility, like Karl Marx five cans deep around a kitchen table. The death rate for coronavirus jumps above 60, which is presumably why Pearson is urging “Generation Me” to repay the “sacrifices of the older generation”. Indeed, let us observe a moment of silence for those born in the 1950s, and the many wars they have fought in Clash of Clans on Facebook.
I wish this sour cohort of moneyed hacks who are profound beneficiaries of free university education, freedom of movement, affordable housing, good pensions, decent retirement age and a working national infrastructure could stop painting their grandchildren as some self-absorbed cluster of simpletons because they are concerned about climate change and take selfies on their phone (notably one of few tangible assets they actually own, once it's been paid off in inflated instalments at the end of a 12-24 month contractual agreement).
It’s perplexing where this delusion of grandeur comes from when boomers are walking around being perpetually rattled by things like vegan sausage rolls and trans rights. How is it that people who have passively allowed the planet we all live on to descend into an increasingly unliveable shit-hole are now pretending it’s the youth of today who cannot be relied upon to “modify their behaviour” or “curtail their freedom to even a minor degree”. The only critical questions these scoffing dickheads are interested in asking about climate change is how “Greta Thunberg is getting away with missing that much school?”
It should be go without saying that if you are 1) someone who once criticised the entire A-Level system and exam board in their national newspaper column for failing to upgrade your son’s C grade in Drama, or 2) belongs to a generation that laments, during a worldwide health crisis, that our government could prohibit the “the Anglo-Saxon handshake”, you probably shouldn’t be calling anyone else “privileged”.
Young people feel a sense of guilt for many things: the weekend food shop arriving via Deliveroo backpack, eating meat despite following The Dodo on social media, extending another overdraft because idea of eating yesterday’s spag bol leftovers in a plastic box won’t touch the sides of the workplace hangover. Somehow, though, I feel taking the blame for the spread of a highly contagious virus by merely existing is an accusation too far.
Having said all this, it would probably go some way if the post-war “you don’t realise the hardship of having to deal with tenants” brigade could issue a rally cry for social solidarity in a crisis without some begrudging putdown to accompany it. It's amazing, really, that generation rice pudding still finds a way to jeer at young people even while acknowledging us as the custodians of their health. Just say “Can you just wash your hands for 20 seconds so I don’t die of the flu, you spoilt layabout cunts!?” and go.