Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Modern Life is Rubbish

Or at least that's what Blur claimed in the early 90s. And I think maybe they have a point. As is many folks' wont over the holiday period, I've been reflecting on life, love and the universe and I've stumbled across some other posts that resonate with me and are making me go 'hmm'. Maybe they'll make you go 'hmm' too.

1. Will McInnes's Imagine post is a poetic read and certainly makes me question my own consumption of *stuff*. I've cut down a lot in the last 10 years and I've been doing the recycling thing for a long time, nevertheless, there's always more we can do. And we can dream.

2. Stop the World is a short video from Tony Hall of a fairground ride. I actually found it a bit disturbing when I watched it and I think Tony had captured the moment perfectly. I shared my thoughts in the comments:

"The video pretty much sums up mine, and many others lives. The relentless pace, the constant noise, that sensation of feeling just a little bit sick with fear/anticipation/stress/excitement. The fine line between agony & ecstasy. I agree, change is the only constant. But I don't feel change, I just feel a race going on all around me for no other purpose except being in a race. Maybe the big changes in our society and culture that are happening right now will help us stop racing in circles for no good reason but find new purpose in our constant movement."

3. Benjamin Dangl wrote in The Guardian today that new technologies, such as the mobile phone, actually distance us from people rather than connect us. It seems to stop us living in the present and with the people and experiences that are actually there with you in real life and as a result, more stress ensues. The Technoslave essay gives further insight into this.

I realise I'm immersed in digital media myself and make full use of tools such as this blog, twitter, linkedin, facebook and more, as I explain here in The Guardian and they've all been incredibly useful and I'm not sure how I would have managed my life and my career without them. However, these tools don't always make me feel connected with those who mean something to me. Sometimes these tools can make you feel isolated too and just because you have loads of "friends" on facebook or you have a ton of people wanting to be your friend doesn't mean you can't be lonely too. It's the old adage of feeling most lonely in a crowd. Social media can be quite a crowd and can be a lonely, scary place.

4. What impact is our wireless life (wifi, mobile, whatever else) actually having on the birds and the bees (i.e. the stuff that really matters)? Ken Banks talks about the 'noise' that's created by all the radiowaves. Which makes me think back to my Stop the World thoughts. We are consumed by white noise. It's not just all around us, it's within us too, chattering away, albeit silently, but it's still there. And there are creatures out there, like the birds and the bees, who are much more sensitive to this stuff.

So, I wonder... in our post credit crunch apocalypse, will we find value in things other than money? Will we be driven as much by community than individualism and greed? Will successful business be more than just about the money or % ROI? Will shareholders be less demanding? Will we learn not to be slaves to the machine? Who knows? But I do know things will change as a result of the last few months of crisis and the last few years of excess. Or at least, I can imagine, and hope.

Interesting days indeed.


  1. Totally with you on point 3, feel that myself!

  2. Anonymous9:15 pm GMT

    I agree that a lot of people these days define themselves through invaluable values. "I consume, therefore I am.".

    Bankers and heads of corporations perish as their financial wealth dissolves. They define themselves through the numbers on their balance sheets. They don't value the true values, which is most of the time invaluable: True friends, family, excitement for the small but great things in life. Things that become more worthy the more you share them with other people. Those things you apparently can't buy with a MasterCard, because they're priceless.

    Great, inspiring post! Keeps the gray cells up there on their toes. Tagged it also on my self-made search-engine:

    Happy New Year, best of health, success and satisfaction for 2009!

  3. Great and timely post Helen.

    It seems this subject comes up on a fairly regular basis. Ten years ago James Gleick (author of the book 'Chaos Theory') published a book called 'Faster - the acceleration of just about everything' ( that talks about these very issues. I also recall reading similar observations from the early twentieth century as with people voicing concerns such as the increasing speed of cars and trains, the disruptive nature of the telephone (not mobile) and the general breakdown of societal values.

    That said, I do wonder if there is a limit to the speed that we as human beings can actually function?

  4. I don't think it's about speed. I think it's about the ability to multi-task. Sorry what was I talking about?

  5. A lot of people feel the same. In my view the question is not so much the outside world, or society that have that effect on us.

    It's our own minds. Is something inside that we need to take a clear look, without prejudice.


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