Sweater anxiety

29 Dec 2023

The quality of sweaters is going down. For the past few weeks, this has been one inevitable fact of Western civilization that I am simply not able to escape. And it all started with a viral tweet of someone recreating a look from the classic 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally.

The first picture in the tweet featured an actor wearing a substantial, knitted beast of a sweater – the other picture featuring someone wearing a thinly-knitted excuse for a sweater from 2023. So, the internet concluded that it’s looking bleak in the sweater department, with one user calling for a ‘national conversation’ that has to be had regarding this concerning development.

There are, of course, many things that are deeply concerning at the moment. Sweaters probably won’t make the top of the list. I know, we have other things to worry about, knitwear will inevitably fly under the radar. And yet, at random times of day, I am haunted by the thought of this blatant decline in sweater quality.

‘Many things have been getting better over time – and some, like sweaters, apparently haven’t’

It’s difficult to tell if things have really gotten worse. Sweaters or otherwise. Many things have statistically been getting better over time – and some, like sweaters, apparently haven’t. God knows if we will ever find a definitive answer to such a subjective question regarding the quality of life. Also, and perhaps especially, because it’s so difficult to truthfully remember past pain.

This summer, I wrote my bachelor’s thesis in the field of memory studies. Especially regarding the memory of traumatic events and how it travels through generations. Trauma does travel. Yet, a memory will only ever stay exactly that: a memory.

You can’t remember the feeling of a root canal treatment or having your nose broken, for example. Pain is a bridge you cross when you get there. And if you can’t even remember your own past pains, if you can’t even recall what the worst years of your life have felt like, how would you be able to relate to the pain of past generations?

Right now, there is, undoubtedly, a lot of pain in the world. And especially if you’re a young person, looking at this bleak future ahead of you, it can feel quite hopeless. And quite lonely. I look at the terrible sweaters of the world and think about how they are made for a landfill. And I look at the new year and ask myself if the things I do and value aren’t meant to last either.

The past is a treasure trove for anecdotes to guide you through the present. But when it comes to making sense of this pain that seems to be everywhere right now, I’ve recently had a hard time with it. Are things getting worse? Have people crossed those bridges over troubled waters before and been alright? Will I laugh about my silly worries in twenty years? Or in forty? Which of the declines we are facing are meant to last – and will I have to learn how to knit in 2024 to remedy the rest?

Read Antonia Leise's blogs here

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