‘Calm it, calm it, calm it – I’m a Chameleon!’ was published in Cult Noise magazine in May 2015
I’m balanced on an IKEA wall desk in my parents’ home, currently adjusting the broken cable of my iPhone charger which is on its last legs. This semester I opted for a cheap, plastic rucksack over an ‘investment handbag’, and I’m pretty sure that once I’ve worn this t-shirt a couple more times to bed, I’ll be throwing it down to the charity shop in yet another full bin bag.
While my dad can flaunt pyjamas gifted in the 80s, I can’t locate a thing in my wardrobe past 2013. Our predecessors might huff and puff at our inability to look after things – or maintain interest in them for long periods of time – but I view our fluidity with ‘change’ as a gift that God presented our disposable generation for a reason.
We exist in a world that’s addicted to something far more dangerous than any kind of cigarette or drug: we are obsessed with substantial and rapid modification. The number of us who occupy our own homes between the ages of 21-29 has halved; Primark’s emergence is reflective of our desire to keep up with fashion; heck, pay-as-you-go SIM cards are a mere relic of the past when there are contracts are on the market with all-you-can-eat data.
According to the Office of National Statistics, 49% of 20-24-year-olds still lived with their parents in 2013. The parental home has gone from a teenage restraint to the home base of adulthood. It allows us commitaphobes to experiment with drastic changes in our lives safe in knowledge that, when it’s time for the next thing, there’ll always be a bed at mum and dad’s.
We survive happily in a world that is more interested in experiences over possessions. Some say we’ve become the disposable generation and that it’s impossible to finance our ever-changing interests and save the planet from increased landfill at the same time. But surely, an age more inclined to experiences over objects is, on the whole, quite a good thing? To us, value is calculated beyond money. It’s in culture: likes, follows, retweets, shares, compliments, friend requests and good morning texts. As mere mortals, we endeavour to keep people interested in us by promoting the current desirable trends, which explains why our social media newsfeeds are so painfully momentarily.
And while we thrive upon originality, the economy booms with our changeability. Spending over £200 on a festival ticket you’re semi-excited about attending is outrageous to outsiders who choose apply their funds to maintaining style – whatever that is nowadays. But organisers get away with it, because people will pay. Whether you’ve lowered yourself to a clip-in bun to keep in with the crew, or splashed out on yet another pair of Adidas Superstars, purely because Pharrell Williams parades them around in flashy colours on the posters.
I like how my generation embraces change so effortlessly. Having no consistency is shunned by some people, but never trying new things is shunned by me. I like the way we switch between flats, and flatmates, every new university term; how we ditch our favourite burger joint in favour of the new Five Guys that’s appeared round the corner; how my boyfriend and I split our cakes in coffee shops so that we get to try two desserts without the price tag.
It’s even affecting our relationships. While, personally, relationships are something I endeavour to maintain consistency with, for others there is evidence to show that this might not be the case. According to a recent survey by the Office of National Statistics, 14% of brides were under 25 in 2012, compared with 76% in the late 1960s. In addition, the mean age of men getting married was 36.5 and 34.0 for women, reflecting, possibly, how people now choose to exercise their experimental instincts in their youth before settling on one person a decade down the line.
It’s certainly an exciting time to be young.
That saying, our chameleon-like abilities could be what’s held responsible when, in our 40s, we decide to build a life for our children with no foundations to start on. Will we ever stop making pit stops at the parental home over the course of our lives? Will we be a generation in denial over bills as we struggle to decide firmly on a career? Who will run our country and our hospitals in the mean time?