A weekly column about how young people are totally fucked lol.
Good thing the Brexit debate is hotting up a bit, if not actually getting interesting. That's because if it wasn't for the potential threat of impending visa complications, Britain would surely be facing a brain drain rivalling that of Cold War East Germany, or at least it would if anybody had paid attention in language classes at school. What is the fucking point of aspiration, when you hear the news that house prices in London have doubled since 2009, and are soaring everywhere else? Are we supposed to work extra hard in the hope that we'll one day scrape together the deposit on a £600,000 house – which is now the average price if you're in London, according to leading property firm LSI?
But Britain already faces losing some of its brightest and best secretive plutocrats. According to Glentree Estates, an estate agent that has sold mansions to many a billionaire, new anti-corruption rules will mean oligarchs are likely to start looking for somewhere other than the London super-prime property market to stash their wealth. It looks like "Billionaires Row" in north London, where a third of the mansions are owned offshore, could soon have a lot of for sale signs hanging around. Please guys, don't leave (if you were ever actually here)! Mayfair would be bereft without your super-cars racing up and down. The sad fact is, given London's status as fluffer-city of the global elite, you have to wonder what it would actually look like if they left, at least until we built a new utopia. Oligarchs, eh? Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em?
In other news about the bleak future we all face, humanity got a stay of execution from drowning thanks to global warming this week. A scientific report said that five islands had washed into the Pacific ocean thanks to rising sea levels. Journalists jumped to the conclusion that this was yet more evidence that Mother Earth will soon get her brutal, Day After Tomorrow-style revenge on us all for treating our planet like our takeaway and lager tin-strewn living rooms. "Rising sea levels" has become pretty much synonymous with global warming, so the media took it as a safe bet that this was further evidence we're all going to die. However, the scientists stepped in saying they had been misrepresented. The report's author Dr Simon Albert told the Guardian that "trade winds have basically pushed water up into western Pacific and have driven these exceptionally high rates of [sea-level rise] in the Solomons" – something only somewhat exacerbated by global warming. That's a factor that wasn't a focus of the report, but that was a focus of the headlines.
"I understand why these more dramatic titles are used and it does help bring attention to the issue that I firmly believe will become a major issue for the islands in the second half if this century from climate change," Dr Albert concluded reassuringly.
To combat climate change we should of course probably all start cycling. Problem with that is you need a bike, and bikes cost money. Well, not to worry, because something called Buzzbike is bringing free bikes to London. That's right, free! Gratis! Kostenlos! The only minor snaffoo is that you have to submit to being a big cycling billboard, with advertising plastered all over your bike, a poor man's version of those Red Bull cars with the big cans protruding out of the back of them like an improvised rocket launcher.
Maybe that would be tolerable if it wasn't for the massive intrusion into your life that is apparently demanded. Once you have the bike, you have to "CONNECT OUR RIDER APP TO YOUR BIKE SO WE CAN TRACK YOUR PROGRESS" and "RIDE YOUR BIKE TO WORK A MINIMUM OF 12 DAYS A MONTH". There's something deeply creepy about being given something for free on the promise that you will use it. It feels like a present from a needy lover. You also get brand incentives and rewards and the advertising will "beautify your bike and the city".
The question is, where does all of this end? Paying for weightless products by submitting yourself to advertising, rather than actually paying with money, is standard practice now: the music you're streaming, this article you're reading. And on the other hand we've all been paying for intangible things for some time: the extra you stump up for a logo on a jacket from a brand you like, compared to one that is essentially the same but isn't branded.
But what happens when more and more tangible things are given to you for free if you hand over a chunk of your or your friends' attention span to a brand? Take this delicious pint of beer. Please, keep your money, I insist. But I also insist you look at this 30-second advert for private health insurance. Take as many condoms as you like, so long as you brag on social media about the cologne you wore when you were using them. Can't afford a house? Of course not. Don't worry, you can live here for free, indefinitely. Just download this app that tracks your mealtimes, your telly choices and your visits to the toilet. We'll share this data with our third party partners and you can reap the benefits of brand incentives and rewards from the comfort of your own home, which you're obliged to stay in at least 12 days of the month.
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