Are things getting better? I think the world is currently united in answering this in the form of a mass shrug.
I am an optimist and so I have always believed that things will always get better, lately however I am not so sure, lately I’m starting to doubt whether my optimism is verging on delusional. All around me I am witnessing events that don’t make any logical sense, pole opposites coexisting in paradoxical absurdity.
Here are the top 3 that come to mind:
1. We are 1 globally connected community, we travel more, marry outside of our own identity more and are in general becoming more liberal but are also living through a period of heightened War, Brexit and Donald Trump.
2. We have never been so environmentally conscious while at the same time reaching new heights of earth destroying consumption and waste.
3. Social media has brought and is continuing to build an equal and plateaued societal structure while our economic and political systems are creating a larger and larger social divide; both live side by side, only slight affected by each other.
How is this possible? Is it because we are living through a world in transition? Is what we are experiencing quite simply the sign of our times? I have the unshakable feeling that we are moving towards integral societal change. This change is a mass movement that cannot be controlled or even clearly described because we are currently in the eye of the storm with no idea what shape the storm will take.
One thing that we do know is that we are throttling through the fourth revolution. The first revolution used water and steam to mechanise production, the second used electric power, the third used electronics and information technology to automate production and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, and has been using a fusion of technologies since the middle of the last century which continues to blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.
The millenial generation, is the poster child for this shift, we are the generation of the transition and in no other generation can we see the paradoxes between the two worlds sit more comfortably side by side. We are not digital natives because we knew a world before the internet, selfies and tinder; neither are we part of the generation that had to learn how to use technology as an adult. We are like the 11-year-old child that moved from Europe and had to learn English, bilingual yes but forever stuck with a slight exotic accent. We are the generation that lives in the third space between the two worlds, not completely from one or the other.
I am part of a generation that is so anxious and obsessed to understand who we are in a world that is transitioning at full speed, that we have found temporary moorings in the art of the chameleon; we fit in that moment, shirk off unwanted labels and quickly adapt to what’s next, we simultaneously embrace the old and the new; and with this constant shifting between different realms of existence develop certain contradictions.
I will use my fully functioning contradictory self as an example; I am a hippy with an addiction to my smartphone. I believe in our intrinsic and misunderstood relationship with nature and being in close proximity to a plug socket. I hate corporate greed but wear the best branded trainers my money can buy. I believe in individual privacy but will sign away all my rights for the latest app. I am a writer who hesitates in front of ink and paper while going like the clappers on my zen notebook. I prefer to go to ‘classless’ shabby chic bars but don’t register the 10-pound middle-class cocktail price tag. I talk endlessly about the injustices of the world while absentmindedly scrolling past charity adverts to look at another avo smash brunch photo.
If we are living through a transition period which is breeding paradoxical extremes, what’s going to happen in our lifetimes? I have the succinct feeling things are going to get worse before they get better, but I do (perhaps optimistically) believe they will get better eventually and that we will do the right thing in time; whether that starts with separating our recycling, joining a charity, standing up for injustice or making our individual voices be heard so that each voice combines to make a deafening echo around the world.