On and off, I think of all of you young(er) beings, especially when my sister triggers it. Becoming a fan of Bieber was one of those shocking instances. Thankfully, she unliked him after I expressed my utter disappointment in her taste.

I read yesterday that Malaysia will become ‘young and poor’ by 2030, meaning a huge percentage of the population would be young (that’s still you in 2030), and yes, poor as opposed to countries that would be ‘old and rich’ like Singapore, ‘old and poor’ like Thailand, and ‘young and rich’ in 20 years time. Well, none of the countries studied fell into the last category actually, which can’t be helped due to increased life expectancy and comparatively lower birthrates.

So let me paint a picture of the 2030s for you.We’re gonna be married, possibly with kids. If it is difficult for dad and mum to feed, clothe, and entertain us today, it’s gonna be ten times harder for us as parents. I guess most of us, realistically, would have left Malaysia. I’m still trying to come to terms with this and after the different viewpoints I’ve entertained (my granduncle said migration out of a lousy place is good, it encourages the natural diaspora of human beings?), I’m unsure what I think. For now, there are still invisible threads of patriotic love tying me to my tanah air.

I’ve also been reading What’s Next, which is ‘a preview of the ideas you’re going to be reading about in ten years’, according to Steven Pinker. It’s intriguing, stimulating, and surpassed my ideas of what future science would look like. A collection of essays by young scientists today, it raises thoughtful questions: how does language affect the way we think? The Kuuk Thaayorre from Australia, for example, have almost superhuman navigational abilities because their language does not define space relative to an observer (Arah Relatif? You still learn that in PMR Geog I think?). They’ll say, there’s an ant on your south-east leg (instead of left or right leg), says researcher Dr. Boroditsky who holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, and this forces them to develop a very good sense of direction. Also, find out about the Marilyn Monroe experiment (creating memories), manipulating moral sense (why, given the same resources, we’re ‘bad’ if we don’t help a drowning man next to us, but ‘doing nothing wrong’ if we don’t help those miles away), and moving north due to global warming. It’s a comfortable read, even if you’re not very scientific. It taught me to appreciate how lofty research that seems unpractical and useful only to puff up an already oversized brain, can actually have profound impacts on everyday life! Talk about memory-erasing and memory-enhancing treatments for the average person. I won’t believe you if you come up to me and say you still think Science is boring after that. It could be YOU working on these exciting new ventures in the future!

Sometimes it amuses me how we can say we don’t know what to do with our lives, and how ‘nothing interests me’. I get a little frustrated when people say “I chose accounting because I didn’t know what else to do after Form 5”. Bollocks! It’s different, you know, if you choose it out of practical concerns. Life’s practical, I get that. But I think your licence to dream gets taken away as you grow older, and if you don’t dream now, you never will.

So again, here’s a friendly reminder from a nosey friend who’s maybe just a little uptight, with expectations a little too high, to use your licence while you can. I’m not asking you to work yourself into a blackhole of misery. I’m asking you have fun, to consider the notion that there’s a whole world out there for you to explore. It’s actually interesting once you get past the initial hurdle of inertia!