I don’t know about you but I’m finding it harder and harder to understand the world and my place in it. Take, for example, a recent YouGov survey which showed that nearly a fifth of young people in UK do not think life is worth living. This number has doubled in the last decade, amid a sense of overwhelming pressure from social media which is driving feelings of inadequacy, the new research suggests. The report also says that youth happiness levels have fallen most sharply over the last decade in respect of relationships with friends and emotional health, while satisfaction with issues like money and accommodation have remained steady. So we are just as rich as we were a decade ago, but a lot less happy. Why?
“Social media has become omnipresent in the lives of young people and this research suggests it is exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time,” said Nick Stace, UK chief executive of The Prince’s Trust. To highlight just how turbulent, a good example if 24 year old Tskenya Frazer, a habitual Instagram and Twitter user until recently. Frazer said that she would “feel bad” about her own life when looking at posts from friends about holidays, work promotions, new cars, or new homes. It also made her question her body image. “As soon as I woke up I would be on Instagram, scrolling through. I would be on a page with a girl with the most perfect body…Social media reinforces those feelings of not being good enough, that you’re too fat, and that is toxic. Social media doesn’t induce those feelings but it heightens them.”
And just when I thought this example was bad enough, along comes something even worse and even more weird, something which seems to take the whole idea of “I wish I wasn’t born!” to it’s ultimate level. Raphael Samuel, a 27-year-old business executive from Mumbai, believes it was wrong for his mother and father to create him without his consent. Which is why he is now trying to sue them. Let us ignore the obvious facts that they were hardly in a position to ask him for consent, and he was hardly in a position to give it. Instead let us focus on Samuel arguing that “Isn’t forcing a child into this world and then forcing it to have a career kidnapping and slavery?…The only reason your children are facing problems is because you had them.”
Samuel is a committed antinatalist. Antinatalism is not those special classes that pregnant couples go to. Instead it is a system of belief which holds that it is morally wrong for people to procreate, and a vast amount of human misery could be avoided by people simply not existing in the first place. This growing global movement has a long and respected pedigree: forms of it crop up in sects of Buddhism and Christianity, and more than one philosopher has argued that the optimal outcome for humanity is extinction.
Whilst Samuel’s suit is likely to be doomed, and the idea also sounds totally absurd, it is nevertheless linked to this serious strain of philosophical thought, which challenges the idea that it’s good to make new people. Antinatalism has been popularized in the West by philosophers like David Benatar, who wrote a book in 2006 called Better Never To Have Been: The Harm Of Coming Into Existence.
Samuel has written on Facebook that “I love my parents and we have a great relationship, but they had me for their joy and their pleasure.” He has also told the BBC that he’s been obsessed since he was a small child with the question of why his parents were entitled to create him without his consent. Because it’s not possible to ask children for consent before they are created, his argument is that therefore it’s wrong to have them at all. He finalised his philosophy by telling the BBC that “There’s no point to humanity. So many people are suffering. If humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”
It is at times like these that I turn mainly to my faith and, in part, to comedians and satirists. This group of people seem to be the few on earth who currently make any sense to me, the rest just leave me confused at best, and despondent at worst. So please find below several quotes from said comedians and satirists, which I hope provide some clarity amid all the confusion that we are surrounded by. As usual, please be aware of some strong language. We start with the ever controversial Ricky Gervais, from his new stand up Netflix special, talking rather aptly about how kids today are really unappreciative of their parents. Enjoy!
There are reasons I don’t have children. One. There’s millions! The world’s over-populated. No-one’s sitting around going “Rick’s not having kids. We’re gonna run out. Fuck!” Two. Kids are scroungers, aren’t they? From day one it’s all “me, me, me”, isn’t it? “Feed me. Clothe me. Pay for my chemotherapy.” No…no. Not my problem, son. Not mine. Luck of the draw, boy. Luck of the draw. It costs the average household in the West $200,000 to bring up a child. And you don’t see that back, they don’t want to pay you back. They’re not grateful. They don’t go “Oh thanks for having me” every day. They go “I didn’t wanna be born.” Even if they get a top job, which they won’t, you’ll never see that money back. They’ll just put you in a home, okay? And my kid, he’d be born into ridiculous wealth, wouldn’t he? So…he’d be a little c**t. – Ricky Gervais, from his stand-up comedy show Humanity
Making jokes about the news can get a little redundant for me, but every so often you see a picture of a governor in blackface and I’m like “This’ll be fun.” So first, the governor of Virginia admitted to wearing blackface in college for a Michael Jackson costume. By the way, making it the least accurate Michael Jackson costume possible. That would be crazy enough, but then the attorney general was like “You too?! Blackface is my JAM!” And then the actor Liam Neeson was like “Blackface? Hold my beer. I didn’t want to bring this up ever, but for a week I was trying to kill a black dude with a baseball bat. Anyhoo, so my movie comes out Friday.” This has been a tough week. Not to mention, we also found out the rapper 21 Savage was deported for being British, which is kind of like finding out Adele is from Atlanta. 21 actually had to leave the UK as a kid, probably because crazy ass Liam Neeson was looking for black dudes with a baseball bat. – Michael Che, 09 Feb 2019, from the TV show Saturday Night Live
I don’t know about you guys but my British values are very important to me. If I’m in town and I overhear someone speaking Spanish or German I say “Why aren’t you integrating?” – Bilal Zafar
I enjoy living up here in Scotland. I’ve got myself a Scottish girlfriend now. She’s Glaswegian but she is half Omani, her mother is from Oman in the Middle East. I feel like I need to explain myself here: she’s not half a man. It’s this Geordie accent of mine. Her mother is from Oman in the Middle East. She’s Arabic, she’s a Muslim, she’s wonderful. And I feel like I need to share this with people, I feel like I need to fight the good fight, because every day I read a news story that tells me in the newspapers every day and on TV that Muslims are trying to kill me. It’s propaganda. And then I go to my mother’s house and that woman makes my lunch! It’s very confusing. If anything she’s trying to keep me alive. The only thing she has ever blown up is an air bed. But I hate reading this bullshit that I see in the news, because if a guy is a dick, if a guy is an arsehole, then I don’t need to know his religion. You wouldn’t give me other useless facts about the criminal, like you wouldn’t put down that the gunman was a Sagittarian. I know some people believe in star signs and they’ll all get angry and say thing like “Argh! Sagittarian bastard! Go back to Sagittaria.” It’s just so dumb. I think the best way I can express how I feel about this entire situation is if I word it like this: I think every time one Muslim commits a crime, commits an act of terror, and ends up on the news, ends up on TV, the rest of the Muslim community must feel exactly how I feel whenever the TV show Geordie Shore comes on. – Kai Humphries
If you’re a billionaire thinking about running for president, just become a Batman instead. – tweet from Jess Dweck (@TheDweck), 01 Feb 2019
It’s hilarious that you can be a billionaire and think to yourself “Hmm…I don’t think I have enough. I should be president of America.” But then when people ask for basic healthcare it’s like “Whoa! Entitled much?” – tweet from Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker), 29 Jan 2019
Marriage is like the witness protection programme: you get all new clothes, you live in the suburbs, and you’re not allowed to see your friends anymore. – Jeremy Hardy
My co-workers wanted to pick my brain about Islam, that wanted to learn more about it. One of my co-workers asked me “What is your criteria for getting into heaven?” I told them there’s the five pillars of Islam. There’s a testament of faith, which is that there’s one God and Mohammed is His messenger. There’s zakat, which is paying a percentage of your annual salary to charity. There’s Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. There’s praying five times a day. And there’s fasting during the month of Ramadan. Or you could just blow yourself up in a crowded market. That’s kind of a shortcut, it’s what’s known as the ‘Super Mario Brothers method’ where getting into heaven is much like jumping into a magical pipe that transports you there. It’s mainly designed for people who want to get into heaven but don’t want to go through 80 years of pious living until they die a natural death, because that takes a long time and it’s hard to do. This way you can let just a few strategically placed sticks of dynamite rip a heaven wormhole for you. It’s like KA-BLA-MO and you’re there! It’s that quick. It’s like that TV show Sliders, but with more limbs flying around. – Fahim Anwar
My daughter wanted a new pair of trainers. I told her ‘You’re eleven, make your own!’ – Jeremy Hardy
People expect me to have some sort of big opinion on racism because unfortunately I’m not white, no matter how hard I try. But it’s something I’ve only really experienced once and that was when I was walking home late one night and someone driving past quite fast actually shouted something quite racist out at me, but I forgave him because he crashed into a lorry. – Bilal Zafar
Saying “In my opinion…” is a brilliant line of reasoning. In your opinion anything can be right. In my opinion if Hillary had won the election in 2016 then we would all be strawberries now. That’s my opinion. And I can’t be proven wrong. – Trevor Noah, Feb 2019
The only way you can ever accuse a Conservative politician of hypocrisy is if they walk past a homeless person without kicking them in the face. – Jeremy Hardy
What I’ve noticed is that the more Muslim I look, the more chicken I get in my shawarma. I kid you not. So now I play my Muslim card hard! I open strong, I show up and I’m like “As-salaam-alaikum my brother. Can I get a chicken shawarma please?” And as he’s making my shawarma I just look at a random white guy and I say “Infidel! Infidel!” And he skips the vegetables and I get more chicken. – Ali Mehedi