Ollie's Modern Life

This month, Ollie Peart weighs the comparative merits of impending parenthood, ecological collapse and Squid Game


Have you looked outside recently? The world is ending. Literally. Thumb through your phone for five minutes and it’s not just humanity you lose faith in, it’s your future. The world is on fire, society is rotting and people are starving to death. It’s grim. 

95 year-old Attenborough is doing his best in his final years to warn us of our impending doom and world leaders have met in the coldest place they could think of – Glasgow – to talk about something they know is a problem, but that actually isn’t quite as big a problem as it could have been if we were much worse than we are now, and besides, we still need jobs, so money, or something, can we just crack on as normal please?

All the while, protestors are blocking traffic, shouting at drivers to insulate their homes, which they can’t afford to do because they have no money. Women are being murdered, hospitals are getting full and any ember of hope that may have existed in the past is quickly being guffed out by the bumhole of stupidity. 

And on it goes as we, the people, sit in our homes multi-screening dystopian murderous south Korean TV where people risk annihilation for a fat wad of cash, and avariciously thumb at crypto apps on our phones, trying to get rich quick. We only look up when BANG! There goes player 261 trying to carve out a biscuit; at least you can say you’ve seen it now.

Attenborough could gently pad at our windows with his cracked and bloody hands, begging to be let in from the searing heat for a little comfort and water, and we would still close the blinds in his face and watch endless reels of parents re-enacting their kids just for a like instead. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

I’ll tell you what is going on. We’re terrified. All of us, globally, are in a collective state of terror where things feel so bad out there, we’d rather watch someone else having a much worse time than us, which is why 111 million people have seen Squid Game.

I know this because at the moment I am terrified for a different reason. In 312 hrs, 41 minutes and 13 seconds my partner and I will venture into the hospital to kickstart a monumental life changing event. We’re having a baby. 

My terror exists as a permanent fixture among all the excitement, joy, sadness and whatever other emotion my body decides to concoct. But there is nothing I can do. Either way, the baby is coming. Nothing I can do or say will stop the fact that our child will at some point in the next two weeks come careering into the world, ready to change the very fabric of my existence. My life will never be the same again. 

With that in mind, I’ve become a master of distraction. Rather than mull in my terror until my fingernails fall off, I am now a superb product researcher. Washer dryers, reusable nappies and baby monitors can all take credit for me not completely losing my mind. 

Washer dryers, reusable nappies and baby monitors can all take credit for me not completely losing my mind

I have spent hours poring over eco ratings of washer dryers, trying to work out whether I can get a new washing machine and tumble dryer in my house or if we’re better off with the dual function. I can tell you the difference between a Hisense and an LG washer dryer just by looking at their buttons. I know what drum size is best for a family of four and I know the difference between a condenser, heat pump and conventional dryer. 

Better than the dryers are the baby monitors. My God, if you have a week off work and nothing to do, just start researching baby monitors. It’s bliss. The first question you will come to is, video or not? That question alone is a day’s worth of reading. That’s not even taking into account the motion sensing baby monitors which are basically a fitbit for an infant.

Once you’ve made that choice there are display sizes, parent unit or no parent unit, camera quality, night vision, lullabies, night light, audio quality – the list goes on and on and on and on, and it’s wonderful.

It was while in this pit of blissful distraction that I began to realise, with a pandemic, famine, murder, climate change, corruption, food shortages, fuel hikes and low pay leering around every corner, we would sooner turn a blind eye and stare at something better, more appealing. 

And as it turns out, it’s not just people faking a perfect life online that’s more appealing, but people being shot in the face for losing a game of marbles. There’s an idyllic simplicity in that idea that’s far more clear and certain than anything we’re living through in real life. We’re not watching Squid Game because they are having a worse time than us. We’re watching it because they have it better.

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