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An Ode To Newness

I come from a time when, on holiday mornings, you would wake up with gifts by the side of your bed. We knew how to celebrate holidays back then. People caught up with loved ones, resolved conflicts, looked one another in the eye, or lovingly caressed your head and pat you on the back. Those were amazing years when the biggest treasure you could imagine was having only one of the hard candies packed away in a wooden cabinet with wire mesh doors. If you wanted two, people asked who the other one was for; in those bright days, people celebrated sharing, solidarity, and integrity and deemed it superior to looking clean and neat instead of wearing expensive brands.

If you were playing in one street down your house, a woman would bring her head out the window and ask, “Does your mother know you’re here, dear?” or would always put a few extra slices with tomato spread on top in the basket she dangled from the window for her kid. Then, it wasn’t a luxury but a normal experience for children to play on the street; we made and played games and always asked for “five more minutes” when our moms called us home in the early evening. We learned about life on the streets. Or learned that streets were life. In that limitless world of play, my generation’s only source was its imagination. We were exposed to a proper use of language on all platforms so it reflected on everyone’s behaviours. We saw days when both the delinquents of streets and politicians strived to preserve their language and culture, i.e. each other.

People embraced idealism instead of despair and advocated their beliefs; education and knowledge were more important than anything else. I always had an answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “You must have heard about Çalıkuşu by Reşat Nuri.” Back at school, when we were reading this book, our teachers would slightly push Feride’s heart-breaking love story aside and focus on how she was studying to become a village teacher. Therefore, the principle of “serving your country with every effort” was engraved in our young hearts. This generation also saw years of hardship, heaviness, and confusion. “New” things kept happening in our lives. Naturally, we couldn’t stand up against this changing and transformative “new.” It started with black-and-white television broadcasts, only a few hours a day, and today, we can be a part of the world through a mobile phone. The world is more crowded, but we feel lonelier. This generation has seen - and still sees - coups, demolished systems, televised wars, new currencies, new technological developments, new perspectives, new ways of thinking, urban transformation, and political, social and economic crises. I wouldn’t want you to read this article, which is more of a release, and think that I close myself to new things. I’m always open to learning new things, constantly sharpening my sense of curiosity.

However, some questions I cannot help but ask. Is every new thing good? Is the changing and transformative aspect of the new always beneficial? Does new have to break down the old to earn a place in our lives? Have these high-rise, distant buildings that appear in the neighbourhoods of our childhood become, in the words of Burak Aksak, the gravestones of cities? Have they become a hell of loneliness in this “new” world order where nobody knows (or wishes to know) anyone in the same building, and we learn about the death of our neighbour downstairs months later? Nobody chats on the ferries, buses, or the subway. Glued to the screens in their hands, people try not to look at one another unless they have to. Nobody knows how libraries smell. We ask everything to search engines and make do with what we got. Somehow, the content isn’t as important as the packaging. We cannot progress without life coaches, therapists, or “personal trainers.” They’re all imitation gems placed on the monture of our crown of loneliness, forged meticulously by our hands. They catch light and gaze beautifully but their value is questionable. Please do not resent my feelings. I do not despair. And I’m able to adapt. I’m just upset about the rough climate created by these odes to newness. I’m hopeful because despair doesn’t suit our essence.

I have faith in the youth, in their ways of self-expression and journey to become world citizens who are less judgmental, less angry, and freer. I have faith in how they can freely and loudly tell the world about sexual orientation, which was a taboo for my generation. I admire and respect the immense contribution they make to create awareness around the world. I attentively listen to what they’re saying about how they’re going to create their own avatars in the Metaverse and pursue their dreams when the time comes, and ask them (many) questions about this topic that is hard for me to understand. However, I must be candid and say that the huge gap between the time I was born and the time we’re living now will more than likely turn me into a “boomer” in the next decade or so. This is my fear. It’s inevitable to adopt what’s new, but I’m not sure I won’t be defeated by it. However, I’d like to repeat that I have faith in the youth. And I come from a generation who heard this very few times. I have faith in the youth, and I greet them all with love.


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