This is the first generation that I think will have a worse life than the generation before them. My parents would think they have had a better life than my grandparents. My father is retired for a year; he took early retirement, something I don’t think I will be able to afford. I will be working until I am 70 or older. I think what is ahead for my generation is not progress but going backwards.
The way I see it, work is almost like a vampire that sucks you. I need to have a roof over my head, so I work, but true freedom begins where work ends. Most people I know have their real interests outside work. I think people work too much. I believe that is going to hit this generation like a ton of bricks. We are a generation who will have to work longer than our parents, and probably only in temporary contracts, because there are so few jobs for life now.
There are three kinds of culture that you see here: victim culture, therapy culture and inquiry culture. If you compared the rates of mental illness pre- and post-peace process there is not much change, but the number of people who now want to have formal inquiries is so much higher.
It can be about anything – health and safety, anything. Instead of people calling for a collective response to whatever they are unhappy with at work, they call in sick. People don’t see themselves as part of something bigger and wider, part of a community. They withdraw into themselves and become atomised. It’s a culture of narcissism.
I am single, I haven’t bought property and I don’t have children. If I had any of these I’d feel older. I don’t have worries. My life so far has been spared the responsibilities of most of my peers. I feel more like I’m in my late 20s, early 30s.
Is it possible to escape politics in Northern Ireland? I try to avoid divisive topics, especially politics; politics is a useless passion.
The previous generation would have relied less on credit than we do now. I keep thinking of the photograph that was in the media in 2007 when the first Ikea store opened in Belfast. It was a picture of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, sitting together at the opening, on a big Ikea sofa. To me the subtext couldn’t have been clearer: what matters here now is not lost sovereignty, because the new sovereignty of Northern Ireland is the consumer.