It seems like only yesterday I stepped into my office, for the last time in 2020.
This was actually way back in March, where I had just returned to the office following leave. On that morning I received an urgent call from my manager (who had already started working at home) telling me when I leave the office, to take all my IT equipment and essentials with me.
That evening the Prime Minister– Boris Johnson announced the United Kingdom was going into lockdown, all those who are able to work at home – must do so.
As a long time desk worker my fate was sealed to a new life of isolation – a big win for more time with the kids and no more horrible commute. But on the losing side enduring a world where “you’re breaking up Karen …” became a meme to sell broadband packages and Amazon continue it’s gradual takeover of the world.
When you spend the past year not going further than five miles from home, you start to reflect and observe the insanity of the outside world.
Stresses and strains have impacted us all, and this social experiment has taught us (believe it or not) how such restrictions on civil liberties can mess with your head. Here are three trends which I predict will have an impact on our wellbeing over the next decade:
When I was a kid, my parents always went through the same ritual when picking a holiday. In a pre-Internet era they received copies of the latest glossy brochures from various travel companies, sharing enticing locations from all over the place.
Then, they would thumb through these catalogues for months, researching the perfect place to visit – it was here I realised my parents were the indecisive types, unable to make a quick decision, especially when given too much choice…
Now I’ll segue to today, where we have the luxury of the Internet, Social Media, Smart Phones… we have too much information at our fingertips, available 24 hours a day whenever we want it.
You might think this is a good thing – but it really isn’t. Having too much information available makes it difficult to focus, where only the most disciplined can filter what is most relevant.
Too much data also causes the conflict of choice – how can you make a decision when you’ve heard bad things about everything?
You can already see this approach being weaponised in politics – all sides like to fire off why the other is wrong and morally bad. For someone who takes a centrist approach, all this achieves is confusion and a distrust of politicians altogether.
The problem with journalism driven by agenda and fake news we now no longer have a source of truth to put faith in, so instead we now don’t make decisions and distrust everything we hear.
Most information now available can’t even be constituted as “knowledge”, it’s mostly shit – pointless speculation and trivia, produced by people who can’t critically think, with no future use or application.
This Information overload is creating a divide, which will be widen in the next decade, as the media and big tech continue to exploit this fuel this
There is individual action you can take, make better choices in what you choose to consume, stop watching the news, don’t take things at face value, avoid silly opinion from “thought leaders” and don’t get trapped in the rabbit hole of social media algorithms.
If there is anything lockdown has exposed for me more than anything, it’s how many people I work with relied on their job as a source of human interaction.
Having to work from home has meant they have to spend all their days living in their shitty one bed, boxroom flat.
Last year in a post I declared that loneliness was an increasing male issue, based on the deduction of my limited world view of men single and divorced friends, struggling in a dating scene that just seems toxic.
But I’ll admit I’m wrong, realising that loneliness is not restricted to one gender!
Talking to my nephew who is only 18, he mentioned he’s had to join a dating site because he can’t go out and meet people! Although it seems ridiculous a teenager is struggling with options, at least he’s not having to resort to places like Only Fans, where people are going to find intimacy.
I feel for the younger generation if that how they are now having to do dating. Tech isn’t the solution and these remote ways of courting will only increase the solitude of generations to come.
If you want to see the impact of loneliness, then I recommend reading up on Japan – there are villages full of of elderly single people, people living as hermits, there has even been some cases of people dying and no one noticing until they stop paying the bills. (The Japanese call this Kodokushi (孤独死) – Lonely death).
You could say this is part of a bigger agenda, where less importance is being placed on having a family – not when your significant other can become your boss, and your religion is your career.
I don’t have any big answers to resolving the issue of growing loneliness except focus on building meaningful relationships every day and recognise there is more to life than your job!
Mental Health has been referred to as “the real pandemic” and I can understand why – for those with pre-existing conditions prior to covid, I can’t even begin to understand the detrimental impact this situation has had on your mental health.
But even those without history, there is a growing concern on how well people are coping. For us office workers we’ve had loads of corporate wellbeing initiates shoved down our throats – something I’ve argue, although well intentioned, is rather pointless when simple actions like reopening the gyms and restaurants would do more wonders!
I’m listing mental health as a growing concern over the next year, due to a general atmosphere I’ve noticed of sadness, it’s not just covid but general concerns with what is happening in the world.
No one quite knows the impact of mental health following covid, maybe depending on the level of normality we return to, will help distract us and address some of these problems, but I predict some of these impacts will be long term, therefore greater care and understanding for our mental health, and of those around us, is needed.
Closing comments where I attempt to be positive…
I realise from rereading this post, the content can come across a bit depressing, this was not my intent, but more some thoughts to make people think about these issues and prompt discussion on how we can take action in our day to day lives to address these problems.
In a world with greater reliance on technology it is vital we are aware of the challenges this progress creates, as a world we are greater connected than ever, and with it we become more aware of global problems, which in a previous century we would be oblivious to.
Because of this it’s important to keep grounded, recognising what we can control and being resilient to the wider challenges these present to our mindset.
External sources like the media spread negativity, hate and divide – we need to respond with positivity, love and unity.
These three trends are likely to define some of the big issues coming up over the next decade. I’ve already set a reminder to write a reflection, on this in ten years to discuss it’s accuracy… see you then.
James @Perfect Manifesto