Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Future? What Future?

It has been brought to my attention that recent polls of millennials indicate that most of them find the entire idea of having children ridiculous. For one thing, the finances of most millennials are already on life-support, and more importantly, who in their right mind would be part of launching a tiny human into any likely version of the future? I think of my granddaughters and I share the horror that millennials feel.

Someone born in 2025 would, according to reality as it is currently practiced, graduate from high school in 2043. Where are my optimists? Raise your hands! Come on. Who want to paint me a rosy future for those graduates? Jobs? Universities? Housing? Nutritious food? Air quality? Clean water? Health care? Weather? Coming up with any prediction that does not amount to almost instant death is a challenge.

Last year one of those fishing posts showed up on my FB page. I can't imagine how they make money or gather valuable information from those things, but they just ask an innocuous question. Thousands of strangers respond. The obvious ones ask for info about your name, the street you grew up on, “how old were you when they landed on the moon?” Some are very obscure. The instant spam post asked the question, “In three words, what advice would you give your nineteen year old self?”

I never answer such posts, but one answer to this question jumped immediately into my head. I rejected it as too negative, even for me. I kept trying, mostly to come up with something funny, or at least not so dark. I wasn't going to enter an answer, but my knee-jerk scared me. That first response was the clear winner: kill yourself now.

The idea still returns to me on a regular basis. It would have been the perfect time to do it. I had already wasted two years at what we quaintly called “college,” drinking and smoking my way to a 1.7 index, which is almost impossible when you consider it.

I had already been in and out of the Navy. All by the age of nineteen! Going in was my idea. I didn't mind the idea of military service. I just knew that I was no gunslinger, and sleeping outdoors was out of the question. Join the Navy! I had always been positively disposed to the U.S. Navy. Stephen Decatur had been an early hero of mine. My early exit from the Navy was their idea. They liked me as a person, but they recognized my total lack of military bearing. Honorable discharge, “character of service: honorable.” It was a thanks-but-no-thanks discharge.

I was nineteen.

I had an on-and-off-again girlfriend who didn't seem to totally approve of me. I had no desire to have another go at college. Working did not appeal to me. I got my old bedroom back and collected unemployment as long as possible.

What advice...” That was the perfect year for me to commit suicide. It would hardly have made a ripple in the pond. I would not have been leaving anyone in the lurch. In fact, I would hardly have been missed. I know now that my little sister would have taken it hard, but at the time I had long thought that my family would be much happier without me. My parents had never been particularly fond of me. My girlfriend would have cried for five minutes and gotten a better boyfriend almost immediately. At my funeral, probably. She was a looker. I had a group of friends that I liked a lot, but they were as depressed as I was. They would have understood. I couldn't stand being around happy people in those days. Nice, clean exit.

I let that golden opportunity pass, but it's still fun to dream about it. I lost my interest in the future early in life. It appears that I was simply ahead of a curve that millennials are embracing. I'll let you look up their suicide rates. Can you blame them? They have less to look forward to every day.

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