I've got a Wired deadline coming up and there's a thing I've been meaning to write about ever since I started doing them, and every month it doesn't quite come together. And, it's just occurred to me, it's one of those that might well date very quickly. So I thought I'd try and bash out some of the ideas involved on here and see if it adds up.
At the moment it's a collection of small thoughts that seem like they're in the same area, but I can't work out how to connect them. This is straying into less whimsical territory than my normal stuff and it's making me uncomfortable. So in the Spirit of The New Age of Blogging - let's Over Share!
1. Unremarkable Times
There was a spate of articles and posts a while ago, when the banks crashed and the recession arrived, about how nothing would be the same again. We'd stop trusting banks, we'd re-invent capitalism, we'd fundamentally question our values. Now, as people start to talk about green shoots, we look around us and none of that has happened.
Just as the MP's expenses crisis was bound to cause a root and branch overhaul of constitutional democracy. And seems likely only to result in the non-election of Esther Rantzen.
Now it's possible that these reinventions will happen, that it's still early days. But I doubt it.
I suspect what's actually happen is that many of us are really, really keen to be living though dramatic and important times. We want to believe that now is a watershed, that this is An Age Of Something, that we live in Interesting Times. So we leap on extremely common occurrences (recessions, scandals) and pronounce them epoch-making. I guess this has always happened. But for some reason, of late, the collapsists seem to have been particularly vigorous and gleeful. They seem desperate for the collapse of some banks and some industries to equal the end of civilisation. Now, maybe there are still large systemic things happening under the surface that will create fundamental change but I bet, in 5 or 10 years time, I'll still be keeping money in a bank, bankers will still be getting large bonuses and people in America will still be making cars.
2. Gradual improvement
And this collapsism must be contrasted with fairly clear evidence that in the long term, in the round, for most people, life is getting better. Human history seems to be a long tale of slow, steady improvement. Life gets longer, easier, better. So, statistically, if we had to bet what we're currently living in an age of right now it's likely to be 'gradual improvement'.
3. Obscuring misery
And what's particularly annoying about this gleeful emo collapsism is that it obscures the real misery that recessions and set-backs do actually cause. So we don't focus on finding actual jobs for people or practically reforming things that actually need reforming - we wibble on about the end of capitalism or what not.
4. Obscuring actual danger
And, in a boy-that-cried-collapse scenario, all this end of days, woe-is-us-ism means we seem to be inured to the actual, huge, coming-round-the-corner-to-get-us disaster, namely the eco-crisis, or whatever we should call it. That's an actual physical thing that's happening, not some crisis of confidence or values or whatever, if we're going to be worrying about something, let's worry about that.
5. Like the internet?
All of which makes me wonder if I/we've been over-egging this internet revolution pudding quite a bit. Is it that much of a revolution? It certainly has been for me, but not so much for my Mum and Dad, or my son. Or for most people outside the West. Is it that epochal or is it just part of 'gradual improvement'?
I sometimes suspect we're living though a media and communications revolution because the people chiefly effected by it are the people who get to decide if we're living through a revolution or not - the opionistas, the commenters, the thinkers and talkers.
And that's it.
Hmm. Now I've written it down I'm not sure there's anything there. Dunno. Maybe all that needs to be said is this