When I was young, back when this was all fields, I vowed that I would never be one of those people who stopped caring about things.
Old people would tell us we really couldn’t change a damn thing, but we knew our generation was different. We walked down streets wearing wristbands that said ‘Make Poverty History’ and just knew we’d save the world. All we needed was a few people richer than us to give up their money first, then we’d maybe start chipping in too, once the student loans were paid off and we’d had a nice holiday and a couple of kids, and obviously they’ll need money for a house and to be honest these people should probably be helping themselves before they come to us for handouts but the point is we cared.
Old people just gave up, but we’d never do that. And I can honestly say I have the same politics as I did in 2005. I don’t squint warily at brown people and my investment portfolio stretches no further than the two cans of Guinness I left unswallowed in the fridge last night. I want more than anything to leave, but the last thing I want is to Leave.
And yet, with the tragic inevitability of the toast landing jam-side-down, the old people were right.
Everyone has angry fingers now and it’s diluting my stock-in-trade. I can’t bring myself to write angry screeds because I can never compete with the burning rage of a thousand iPhone warriors demanding Mark Duplass retract his support for Ben Shapiro. You don’t need to know who those people are, you only need to know that if you’re not instinctively angry at what everyone else is fuming about you’re clearly incapable of heightened emotion and should probably go back to tending your beetroot, Granddad.
In the age of internet fury there’s no longer any point to fury itself. A block of flats burns and I feel for the victims but can’t begin to care less whether a string of councillors are strung from lamp posts, as Twitter demands. I experience a curious form of apathetic serenity as my eyes drift from a headline beginning with six specific characters – TRUMP: – as almost all nowadays must. The western world’s itching to raze Iran and my sole concern is whether it’ll allow truth to out-strange fiction and finally put Homeland out of its misery. Give up, Carrie, just give up.
Let’s take the mighty issue of the moment as an example. Day after day a small band of deteriorating white men and I suppose Andrea Leadsom violate the airwaves with their views on a ‘no deal Brexit’ and why a second EU referendum would be the rape of democracy. In stern voices they tell Theresa May that if she doesn’t respect ‘the will of the British people’.
That might seem like an odd place to stop a sentence. Perhaps he doesn’t proofread his own work, yuo mihgt thnik. No, I’m afraid I just gave up giving a shit about any of it shortly before I began typing it out and eventually just ran out of puff. The letters you see above are merely the literary equivalent of the clear sticky substance that emerges to dampen your pants and remind you who you really are as you walk merrily down the street 20 minutes after a wank. The afterwank.
I can’t get angry about Brexit any more than I can raise hell about the industrial farming of personal data or the disappearance of the Javan Rhinoceros. There is, literally and totally, fuck all I can do about any of it. I can make small changes in my life to make myself feel better, and maybe convince others to do the same, but still a billion Chinese people will think ground-up rhino horn cures acne. Facebook knows everything about me, from the diameter of my pulmonary artery to who I’ll vote for in 2024 (Putin), despite my never having signed up to their howling cult. No matter what I do, fewer than ten rich people will decide the future of the UK by returning us to the last time wearing ruffs was fashionable anywhere outside of east London.
Many things in life make me cross, but cross isn’t angry. Cross is the man sitting seven metres from me right now who clears his throat every few seconds, yet only makes the first sound of what we all know is a two-step process. Huhg-HUHG, and optional swallow, that’s the rule. But this New Zealand son of a bitch is Huhg. Huhg. Huhg. Every. Few. Seconds. That’s cross.
Angry is injustice and inequality. Angry is homelessness, food banks, hedge funds. Angry is allowing loneliness to exist in a world of way over seven billion people. And each is a problem so huge and immovable there’s not a single point in giving an angry shit about any of them unless you’re actively courting an embolism.
I’m not, so fuck it all. I can get angry at the things I can’t control and risk a monumental coronary, or I can get cross at the things I can and punch inanimate objects that refuse to obey my command. Yell uselessly into vacant space about customs unions and hard borders, or get cross that Uncle John’s hip operation went tits up and find him a crack Saul Goodman to squeeze a bit of BUPA money out of the new Health Secretary who looks like the special kid who used to help teacher run the tuck shop.
Leave real anger to the people least likely to make it have any actual impact as they shriek electronic opinions at each other. The old people were right. Docility is the answer.
Now excuse me while go and shove this stapler in that fucking Kiwi’s ear.