Wednesday 18 September 2019

Shane Watson: 'Flygskam, and nine other ways we're being shamed this summer'

Greta Thunberg refuses to fly to help the environment
Greta Thunberg refuses to fly to help the environment

Shane Watson

This year has been quite a year, environmentally speaking, and has already produced a Scandi term to rival hygge: flygskam, which is Swedish for flight shame.

Fitting that the idea comes from the same country to have produced Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate change campaigner who recently set sail for America in order to avoid getting a plane.

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Flygskam is what's driving the new enthusiasm for rail travel and staycations. It refers to the feeling of shame you experience when you fly, because of the damage you are doing to the environment, but also the anxiety of being judged for flying by people who know better. Flygskam is a type of modern shaming - one of the many new ways in which you can be shamed now. Here are some of the others:


This is an obvious one. If you're experiencing flygskam, you'll be an experienced, responsible recycler, but still, you could probably do better. If you poured the dregs of the milk down the sink this week, for example, that is cause for recyclingskam. If you thought, 'What the hell, I'll just not rinse out that soup container because I'm really busy' and then your attractive young neighbour caught you… that's a recyclingskam moment.


None of us are sexist in 2019, but then again, can you honestly say you are beyond the odd lapse? Have you, for example, said the following recently to a female: "What does your husband do?" (before asking what she does). It happened to me last week, so just checking.


You really should be ashamed. You're going to get four wears out of it before it needs washing, and you know it's not going to survive a wash. Taking it to the Red Cross once it's knackered does not make it any better.


No one who cooks respects gadget hounds. Who needs an avocado slicer or a heat conducting knife? How ashamed are you of your spiraliser now? Exactly.


It used to be the children's birthday cakes. Now it's all about the hummus and the beetroot dip and the gazpacho. You've got a Magimix - surely, you at least made the brownies? Other people are baking their own sourdough, all the time. They're making their own kombucha!


Smart lady on the phone 20 yards up ahead with the dandelion fluff dog… yes yooooou! We can see you. This is one of those skams that *everyone* is on board with, unlike flygskam (it's early days for flygskam, to be honest) and we'll think nothing of shouting and pointing if you don't Pick It Up.


This is the shame that you will suffer from buying surplus to requirements lifestyle props: glass teapots, jute baskets, grey throws. You know the sort of stuff. It's those things that stylists use for 'dressing' a room: Optrex-blue glass bottles; decorative paper weights; random wooden initials… shame on you. You don't even really like them.


So you've got your bags for life, your steel water bottle, your hot compost and then some of you (men) are sneaking off to the reduced-twice section at the supermarket and coming back with what can only be described as junk food. Note: times have changed - it's now not just acceptable for people to open your fridge and chastise you for its contents, it is socially responsible behaviour, on a par with taking away a drunk driver's car keys. You would be well within your rights - according to modern rules - to confiscate a friend's pork pie or fried chicken.


This one starts here, even if it isn't an official shame, because there are few things creepier than the super well-dressed child. Rich parents, shame on you for buying your seven-year-old cashmere and a coyote-trimmed parka. Are you nuts? Put them in an oilskin and elasticated jeans and be done with it.

That'll do for now.

Irish Independent

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