In this life of fast cars, fast food and fast money things that take time tend to take a backseat. We are so used to instant gratification that it is an almost-alien concept to nurture and grow something for more than a few minutes. If our seeds don’t propagate, reach maturity and bloom in the space of two minutes we ditch gardening all together and do what any self-respecting Gen-Y should do: move on. I don’t like to fuel Gen Y biases but I feel as though were born at the tail end of a revolution and our concept of success, hard work and even love are shaped by the rapidly changing world we grew up in. I’ve spoken before about my propensity to cash in phones (iLove You, iLove You Not… iDunno) the same way I cash in relationships: yearly. This is because like you, I have been raised to feel the like obsolesce is inevitable and that anything I have is temporary until the next big thing comes along.
Lately I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened by the transient nature of friendships, jobs and love. This eternal optimist has had her flame for life dampened by the idea that, in fact, nothing does last forever. I wistfully recall the glorious lyrics from Pooh’s Grand Adventure, where the two odd buddies cheerfully quarreled about how long their friendship would last. The highly cynical Christopher Robin sceptically advised “Forever and ever is a very long time, Pooh.” To which the charmingly overweight, binge eating, dependent-wreck Pooh replied: “forever isn’t long at all, when I’m with you.” For a long time I thought I was Pooh (I’ve also thought I was shit at times too) but recently I’ve been taught by the school of Chris Rob. Turns out poor Pooh was just a stepping stone on the path to the next best thing. He knew that in the big wide world there was going to be more for him than an engorged stuffed animal with stupendous charm. He was already plotting his next move long before old Pooh Bear realised he was the last man standing in a three-legged race to forever.
For the last twelve months I’ve been wildly optimistic about love, friendships, careers and life. But as the optimism fades, like a general anaesthetic, I am left wounded and bemused as I hurtle back to reality. Life was so much simpler when forever and ever didn’t seem like such a long time. But these days, a month feels like a lifetime. Life is full of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) and more and more I’m starting to feel like one of them. FMCGs, as the name suggests are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low-cost. They are items like chocolate bars that generally have a short shelf life, either because customer demand is high or because product deterioration is rapid. It’s a low-margin business that demands trade in high volumes in order to reap a significant profit. Well, that sounds like modern life right there: always scrambling to upgrade to a newest version before we have truly extracted worth from the first.
We keep churning through life’s offerings so quickly that we perpetuate this FMCG cycle and become a part of it by default. I’ve been busy investing in myself, pouring my heart and soul into my friends and relationships and searching relentlessly for a fulfilling career for an end goal of securing a life of slowly-maturing, stable investments that yield hefty returns. But how wrong was I? I’ve been treating people like property (The Dating Game) and they’ve been treating me like ice-cream (We Can Dish It Out, But We Can’t Take It). I’ve been paying my way through life with fat stacks of cash but accepting dividends paid out in Monopoly money. I’ve been trying to in vain to build an empire, because lord knows Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when I look around all I can see is young upstarts bragging about how fast they got Park Lane with four houses (hotel coming soon), whilst getting ready to sell up big and move onto the next thing before the game is even finished. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
We’re all aware of this easy come, easy go attitude because we are its greatest advocates. Routinely we ask ourselves: why should we bother trying to repair something when it will cost just as much to replace it? Sure that might be the case when it comes to laptops or vacuum cleaners but not relationships and careers. These things should be regularly serviced and patched-up. They are not a tub of yogurt that’s gone a bit sour, more often than not they are a car that just needs a bit of oil. We are constantly abandoning opportunities that just need a little bit of TLC in order to keep reaping returns. But alas: try and fix a four-year friendship? Nah. I’ve got 3000 friends on Facebook, I don’t need that bitch. Ride out a rough patch a work? Damn, have you seen how many jobs there are on Seek? Then there’s the old “Hey, its been ages! We should catch-up ” (aka “do you still think I’m cute?!”) messages that start popping up in your inbox when someone is preparing to exit a relationship and looking for a soft place to land.
A new boyfriend every week, a new best friend every month and a new job every year. Keep. ‘Em. Coming. Companies wonder why young talent won’t stay when they’ve been contracted, probationed and treated like visitors in an organisation that wants them to feel at home. Friendships these days seem to go out of style faster than most reality TV contestants and don’t even get me started on long-term relationships (apparently a terrifying prospect for FMCG fans). Love and romance now inevitably die like cut flowers because everyone wants a bouquet of roses but no-one wants to take care of the plant. Quite honestly, I’m sick to death of being someone’s impulse purchase that gets picked up and dropped like a packet of Mentos. Don’t buy into FMCG life choices and don’t ever let someone treat you like one. In life, although they might be part of your appeal, you should never be chosen solely for your affordable price, convenient location or cuter-than-most aesthetics.