Monday, December 14, 2009

A new decade flies in

It seems like such a short time ago that we were all hyped up over the end of the 90s. The new millennium was coming! A brave new age! That is, if we could get over the spectre of Y2K and all the world’s computers crashing and dying. How quaint it all was.
So where were you on that fateful New Year’s Eve? I stood on the balcony of a little apartment we then had in Auckland, trying to spot the fireworks display through the murk. It rained and rained and rained.
Then I went to Okahu Bay to watch a fleet of Maori canoes welcome in the dawn. Had to park miles away. Sat on the beach with friends. The day dawned a bit pallid and dull. We were all exhausted by then. Trudged back to the car, went home, slept, got up – and the world went on.
A lot has happened since those celebrations around the globe, much of it nasty and bewildering. TIME magazine recently declared it a ‘toxic decade’. And suddenly this first decade of the 21st century has almost gone. We’re all ten years older. We’ve either leapt or been dragged into the digital world, which continues to spin ever faster.
Time itself seems to spin faster – and not just because we’re getting older. There’s so much going on that your brain hurts.
I recall, a decade ago, having conversations about what we would call this decade, for the ‘zero’ years did not make for easy contractions like seventies, eighties and nineties.
Some reckoned we’d label them the noughties, but that hasn’t really happened yet. Instead, we just talk about, for instance, 05 or 06. And soon we’ll be referring to 2-10 and 2-11, booting the middle zero out of the way. Or maybe we’ll say twenty-ten or twenty-11. Whatever, the next lot of numbers is roaring down the freeway at us.
In the last decade, TVs grew skinny while people grew large; we talked less and texted more; financial bubbles grew and burst; the web went more viral; gossip grew more global; and mankind kept on chopping down rain forests and firing guns at each other.
So what’s likely to happen next? Who knows. But here are ten little expectations from me. I reckon we’ll see:
1 MORE DRAMA over climate change, and also more talk about limiting the number of people on the planet. Expect to hear from groups pushing a ‘Stop At Two’ agenda.
2. MORE ANGST about geopolitics. So what’s new!? Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan (which is now apparently being tagged ‘Afpak’ in strategic-thinking circles), Israel, Palestine: all such a mess.
3. MORE RUSH and excitement about bright sparks inventing clever new things to improve our lives. Today’s young people, who’ve grown up with computers, will produce marvels the world has never seen before.
4. MORE APPRECIATION of old-fashioned values like friendship, caring, community spirit. With so much going on in the digital world, human interaction will be all the more valued and yearned for.
5. MORE SOCIAL NETWORKING and digital media to both delight us and baffle us until we get the hang of it. Plaxo, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr; Ning, Bing and Jing – they may sound like Santa’s reindeer but there are hundreds of sites and tools to discover and use.
6. MORE NEED (as a consequence of the point above) to pay attention to body maintenance – with better eating, exercise and de-stressing activities to balance up this stressful world.
7. MORE ADDICTION to the things we use to get away from it all – such as iTunes and You Tube and mountains of pills and liquids, including those endless cups of coffee – the stimulating drug that so many of us simply can’t do without.
8. MORE ADMIRATION of truth, honesty, compassion and moral magnificence.
9. MORE MAGNIFICENCE in performing and visual arts. We don’t want everything brought to us on-screen. It’s glorious to see real live people producing sights and sounds that makes the heart sing.
10. MORE YEARNING for simplicity. Life is now so very complex that it’s the small things we’ll love even more: summer sand beneath our feet; the sound of birds, waves and rippling streams; hugs from loved ones; artless prattle from small children; smiles from strangers; and beautiful, useful things made by hand.
Happy Christmas, all.