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Between Nihilism and Cottagecore; a Generation Lost | Juanita Galea

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

As much as I have gotten tired of talking about this virus, it is important to address the following; Covid-19 has had disastrous impacts on Generation Z. Whether we like to admit it or not, Gen Z is based on a culture of avoiding social interaction, virtual relationships and a general pessimistic out view on life.

The confinements we found ourselves in due to the pandemic, led us to migrate from real human life, to the material world of virtual interaction. Although this might not have seemed to be such a problem for a generation which shows great aversion to in-person interaction, it was anything but the case.

The best way one could analyse and scrutinise the essence which makes up a millennial, one wouldn’t have to look further than from the structureless abyss which we know as the internet.

This period of lockdown has in a weird way reversed some of the progressive stirrings taking place within the subconscious of a Gen-z individual. This overload of isolation– encompassed by a general lack of social gatherings, in-person learning and cultural legacy has led this generation to ever so slightly and in a gradual manner, become more sensitive to the present late-civilisational decay which is surrounding them.

This can be seen through the different aesthetic styles promoted online. Such aesthetic styles include retrowave, post-modern, steampunk, fantasy ect. The obsession with such aesthetics does not necessarily stem from visual pleasure. Rather, it offers an escapist utopia for those stuck in a dull and grey world– from a world characterised by social media expectations, lockdowns and a general nihilism which cakes like dust any aspirations present.

An aesthetic which quickly rose to popularity during the last two years was Cottage Core. In essence, as an aesthetic it is composed of greenery and flowers surrounding a traditional cottage, with women dressed in a white modest dress taking care of the house, the plants, the washing up, the children. It truly is a return to a life which Gen Zers never experienced– and given the way in which our economic structure is heading, will never have the inherent right nor pleasure to experience.

This traditionalist aesthetic takes us back to the roots of what once was the foundation of the state (the family actually has existed long before the concept of the State, I would argue it is the foundation for building communities)– a nuclear family based on distinctive parental roles, a time when marriage was based on or rather seen desirable / the main goal of a marriage was to bare children and create a legacy– offspring to whom you can pass down your faith, beliefs and nation. It brings with it a breath of neo-romanticism.

Such a fact carries with it a certain level of irony of course. The fact that the internet and technology are used to make and spread such images, is rather ironic given the fact that it is this very internet and technology which stripped this idyllic life away from us. Virtual citizens who have bloodshot eyes, social anxiety and an all around lack of will to persevere, find an escape in such aesthetics. This aesthetic comes part and parcel with an affinity for historical period dramas, a subconscious desire to leave the city and a longing for a family to nurture and raise.

As T. Howard interestingly noted, “the aesthetic is self-consciously escapist and Cottage Core can be thought of as one of many expressive forms of post-Sexual Revolution trauma in the West.”.

The Covid-19 lockdowns led many Gen Zers to realise that with the leisure of open bars, theatres and clubs being taken away from the equation, the only thing which is left is the skeletal facade of a city– one which highlights so perfectly the metamorphosis of our decaying civilisation. What was left once such establishments were shut down? A reminder of the lives Gen Z were robbed off.

The seed of cultural Marxism has undoubtedly been sowed within the hem of the 21st century. This can be witnessed through the manifestation of Cancel Culture. Being a member of Gen Z automatically prevents you from being able to criticise the western social revolution of the 20th century (in the same way a black man or woman cannot criticise the BLM movement).

No matter how far Gen Z idealogues strive to stray away from what is natural, normal and traditional, in reality human nature and desires do not change. They are constant within the subconscious– no matter how hard the fight to push against them is. This is why the number of Gen Z anti-feminists is growing. Young women across the globe are realising what they lost– or rather, what has been taken from them.

Feminism might have not been merely an organic movement which hoped to foster equality for all, but rather an orchestrated ploy by powerful men in order to reduce women’s prospects of domestic fulfilment. Going to work and building a career is now seen as the ultimate form of self-liberation. Tell me, how can feminist groups look women in the eye and tell them they are better off as wage slaves, rather than as homemakers?

For the sake of clarification, I am in no way slandering women who work. If anything, they do not have a choice as our economy does not support such roles. However, I am criticising the fact that women can no longer stay at home and raise children– a reality which only came about once women entered the workforce. Late capitalism delights as this; more labour, more production, more money.

Furthermore, women are thought to feel empowered by showing off their bodies in the quest to acquire more money. Is that really all we have to offer our young daughters? Real empowerment comes from perseverance, faith and modesty. Women have been stripped of their dignity and identity, to be replaced by gender theory which promotes the idea that any individual can be a woman– regardless of anatomy.

This idea is further fuelled by the growing number of men who appropriate womanhood in their quest to “transition” providing the world with a very sexist and misogynistic view of what womanhood really is– reducing us to shopaholic hair obsessed women who care more about their clothes and nails than the future of their societies. How incredibly offensive it is to be a woman and be told that a biological man is just as much as a woman as you are.

With a growing interest in the traditional– even within the local context you see a revival of interest in Maltese traditional architecture, in folklore music and in cuisine, one is left to wonder whether or not this will manifest in a full fledged shift within the ideological attachments of Gen Z. The harvest is indeed plentiful, yet the labourers remain few.

All writings reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the views of CYOE.

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