Debra Torrance Left Politics Ungagged Team Ungagged Writing

The End of the World

So 2020 is coming, that seems quite absurd to me. It’s the end of the decade and yet feels more impending than 1999 or 2012 did. Remember the millennium bug? Or the Mayan calendar prediction? Mind how afterwards there was the chat that there was no year 0 so really the end of the world was still to come? Oh the bantz!

This particular milestone in a made up calendar feels a bit more significant though. On a personal level as well as globally. I have grand plans to dominate the world in the next decade, that’s just a side gig really but mostly I just want to see some more of it before, you know, it burns and humanity eats itself.

The environments we humans reside on this planet are changing. There are more vehicles, more people, more shops, more pollution, less animals, more fires, more flooding, less prosperity, less trees. There’s like a see saw of more and less. More intolerance, less justice. Some of these instances might be a see saw of greater and fewer but I don’t even care about proper grammar anymore.

There’s definitely been an increase in intolerance. That’s like one of the scariest things for me this decade. Hate crime increases, actual Nazis on streets, open racism and bigotry, casual fascism. It’s been a pretty hateful 10s. Teens? What do you call the decade we’ve just been through? Please tell me, we had the naughties for the 2000 – 2010s. We are going into the twenties. What was this bit? Please answer on a postcard, or facebook comment or tweet @_Ungagged. You could win a badge.

Back to the apocalyptic stuff, mind we had the people eating other peoples faces on subways and in parking lots? That was weird, then the bird flu, swine flu and of course Ebola! SARS and Zika anaw, like there were so many horrific and catastrophic epidemics. Then of course the rise in diseases that we thought were old hat, measles and rickets. Diphtheria! There is so many incidents throughout the whole decade of impending doom moments for humanity.

We also had some incredible natural disasters and cataclysmic events. Immense tropical storms and earthquakes, volcanoes erupting, tsunamis destroying nuclear power plants and human tragedy of biblical proportions. The 3rd rock from the sun, we call home certainly has had a seismic decade, almost shaking itself and trying to alert the various organisms that reside on its outer shell. And yet the end of this decade is like a final act in a dystopian novel of entire continents on fire or melting, flash flooding or being slowly drowned by rising sea levels. Whole cities are consumed by smog of our own making and entire species of animal/insect/plant are being eradicated at alarming rates.

And of course, the politics. The economy. The discourse. An Arab spring and several wars, armed conflicts, bombing of civilians, terrorist attacks, increase in human slavery and exploitation. We started the decade with the first black President of the United States and we are starting the next one with Donald Trump. The (dis)United Kingdom started the decade with Gordon Brown, a Labour stalwart as Prime Minister and we are starting the next one with the UK’s first hairy marshmallow PM. Boris Johnson. A man with as much trust from the public as a toddler with a firework in some tall, dry grass.

There was also some good things. Really great things. The Chilean miners got rescued, that was just some dust in my eye. There were amazing Olympic achievements like the human fish Phelps or the lightening speed of Usain Bolt, also universal recognition of the achievements of disabled athletes (we won’t mention disability benefit sanctions afterwards, for noo.)

There was some kind, generosity invoking trends and community actions. Guerrilla gardening and paying it forward. Doing stupid challenges for charity and individuals raising unbelievable amounts of money for good causes. Young people really stepped it up this decade, from Malala to Greta. To every young person who took a stand against school shootings or for the environment or against police brutality or discrimination. Well done, putting us elders to shame.

We also had amazing scientific break throughs and epic human achievements. We have seen further into space and stayed for longer in space and had more women in space than ever before. We have populated another planet with robots. We have commercial vehicles flying back and forth from Earth to an international space station. This is the start of the space age.

Also hashtags really became a thing this decade. They had started to become popular at the end of the naughties but this decade even yer Nanna probably knows what a hashtag is.

Talking of nerdy stuff, this was the decade where geek became trendy. From The Avengers franchise attracting full grown men and women along with all the weans to Star Wars and Star Trek making another come back, in a big universal appeal sorta way. Live streaming became a norm and portable pocket computers exceed all possible capabilities from what I had in my pocket in 2010, compared to what is now never in my pocket cos it’s too big and valuable in 2019 heading into 2020. We have self driving vehicles, highly efficient electric sports cars and although some of them are expensive, even my own motor can park itself.

This was a decade of drag and box sets. Food delivered by apps and underpaid drivers on zero hours contracts.

The way we communicate, consume information and shop online has changed so unbelievably, it’s hard to comprehend that I used to get a newspaper delivered in 2010. I can’t remember the last time I actually read a physical newsprint. In 2011 Royal Bank of Scotland launched a banking app on your mobile device. This really changed the way we transfer money and pay for things, paypal yer pal or just tap your card or mobile on a contactless doodahd. Crowdfunding and paying for invisible services like cloud storage, is now seen as a regular direct debit. Ten year ago there is no way I would pay for things I could download on Limewire but now I subscribe to several streaming services and databanks. Yay, capitalism is convenient.

Social media too, really became part of everyday interactions. It became so commercial. Influencers became a viable career choice for many young people, entrepreneurship dramatically increased along with ever increasingly creative ways to con people. Bit coin became an actual thing that some folk really use and request to be paid with. In 2010 it was estimated there was about 28-29% of the world population online and as of June 2019, according to Internet World Stats there is 58.8% of the worlds population using the internet. 4,536million users of the global inter web. Thats a lot of connections. Politics live on a facebook stream, how weird to think what Russian bot farmers done before bot farming was a thing?

The internet can do good though, it can bring people together and let them collaborate and organise together for good, and also sadly, bad. There’s that see saw again, the eternal balancing act of trying to summarise a truly awful decade of austerity and aggression, tragedy and disaster with wee hopeful tales of inspiration and joy, generosity and kindness. I’m no gonna lie, it’s quite difficult. This decade however I have seen a lot of good things on the internet, people dedicating their entire lives to rescuing wee animals in distress and rehoming abandoned dogs and cats. People risking life and limb to rescue wildlife, facing off antlers and teeth to free entangled mammals and sharks. Men breaking through ice to rescue birds of prey and avoiding slashing talons and biting beaks to get them back ashore.

I’ve seen humans rescuing other humans too, that is the type of content that is guaranteed to make me cry. From groups of humans lifting entire train carriages to making human chains to rescue people caught in a rip tide, humans rescuing humans is in my top three favourite types of videos. Along with humans rescuing animals and animals rescuing humans. There’s a sub type of content that’s quite rare but should also be included, that’s animals rescuing other animals, my fave of all time is humpback whales rescuing a baby grey whale from orcas. This decade, I think I’ve been on the internet a bit too much.

The decade started with austerity and is ending with austerity, but this isn’t the end of sanctions on the poor. However if we focus on the all the bad stuff, we will truly despair, like how I was a fit and healthy, self employed graduate student in 2010 with my own home and mortgage, and now I’m unemployed and back in my mum’s spare bedroom and my wheelchair wheel is wonky right noo. We can reflect on the tragedies that have befallen the people of Libya, Syria, Grenfell and Govan.

We can mourn the loss of so many innocent victims, right across the planet but still… what have we learned from these past ten years? What will change? What can we hope for?

Scientists figured out stem cell and gene therapy remedies and treatments, cancer is being stopped in many cases, and survival rates of many previously fatal conditions are increasing. This research and medical intervention can only get better, the knowledge and skills of our scientists and doctors have to be applauded and supported. The governments and authorities must make human health and wellbeing a number one priority across the globe, support their institutions financially and politically.

We have the means to help so many and yet the privatisation of medicine and capitalist tendencies of pharmaceuticals are detrimental to the human race. Although medical marijuana became legal in most of North America this decade. So some good vibes in the air.

And thats a crucial point… The human race. Us. Me, you and wee Jimmy doon the road. We are all destroying this planet, but we aren’t the only one’s on it. This decade has seen 8 bird species become extinct. There are hundreds of different animals on the extinction list and thousands of reptiles and insects and countless plant species. It’s really quite overwhelming and sobering. How can we as individuals even begin to try and enact change, try to care for the entire planet when humans can’t even care for each other?

How do we begin to try to quantify the unnecessary suffering and anguish that has afflicted the human race this past decade, how do we reflect on our own individual sacrifices and personal tragedies when the planet around us is in such disarray. Where do we begin? If the world didn’t end this decade is it set to in the next ten years?

This decade I thought we would have flying cars, Scottish independence and maybe see an apocalyptic event. I thinkthose three things are still a fair bet for happening sometime this coming decade.

So here is my very Ungagged, end of the world, New Decade; New Debra resolutions…

  1.  I’m going to get rid of 75% of my possessions.
  2.  I will recycle more and try to buy less plastic items.
  3.  I will use my bags for life more than twice.
  4.  I will plant more trees and shrubs in the garden.
  5.  I will consider the ethicality and sustainability of my food more often.
  6.  I will conserve water more efficiently even though I live in the land of rain.
  7.  I will not buy shit I don’t need.
  8.  I will be kinder and more patient.
  9.  I will donate to more charities.
  10.  I will always offer help to anyone when I can help, and always say something when no one else does.

What are your new decade resolutions?

by Debra Torrance

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