I'm saying no to the New Normal
Can we all just stop?
Can we all just stop speaking in marketing speak, making ourselves a brand, concocting new fancy titles for old jobs, labelling life and coining new phrases to convey states of emotion, or stages of life. Can we all just start to live, without the constant need to define what we are doing or experiencing, by wrapping it up in some new term?
I sincerely despise the use of the term, New Normal as do so many others it appears, but still it continues to crop up - daily. What does it even mean? Who coined it? And, why the hell is absolutely anybody and everybody using it? What is normal for a start? Who defines what is normal, and how did they arrive at it? I know I am being subversive and argumentative, and just playing around with semantics - kind of - but the use of all the buzzwords in this day and age is killing me. Not to mention killing great writing skills.
More than nine years ago I remember laughing out loud (LOL for the hipsters out there), in the midst of researching for a trend presentation. We were examining and outlining why we had arrived at the need for a digital detox as a major trend - a buzzword right there - but actually one I like. Fickle much? However, I digress. The team and I were researching why the world was - still is - in desperate need of a slowdown, and outlining for an international company how they should reconfigure, arrive and embrace what was, so obviously to us, the future of absolutely everything (#toldyaso anyone?), when we came across the term Offline dating.
WTF? (You all know that one I assume).
The research thread had been looking at the continued demand for history and authenticity (yes, we were tracking this nearly 10 years ago), looking at the past as a blueprint for the future. Which is coincidentally why there are so many retro and nostalgia-inspired products and designs out there now, as we continue to seek a sense of security in the tried-and-tested. These demands had crossed generations, and had tipped over into the convergence of ages. And one of the outcomes, due to the growing demand for reconnection, was a considered rise in online dating sites. Interestingly, the main growth area for online dating was the Silver Society (buzzword alert) with one of the largest growth areas for online dating the 75+ age group (love it). It transpired however, that as older age groups embraced technology, particularly in the form of online dating, Gen Y (Millennials) were embracing Offline dating.
Offline dating, is oh… you know, that little thing where people actually meet up. Face to face.
Get. Out! Literally.
The new Gen had taken their cue from the Baby Boomers and beyond, and this was the woke new thing (I don’t think woke was even a term 10 years ago). But it was what all the dope kids were up to (yes, I had to look that up, but even as I write dope is probably being superseded by slap, or some such thing. I might even be up for age appropriation now that I think of it, simply by using those terms).
But c’mon. Offline dating is just… well dating. For real.
And this is what I am talking about. This need to reinvent, continuously.
Don’t get me wrong, I love language, its fluidity, its changes, its ability to morph and convey times and generations. Intrinsically each generation has its own language calling card. Just think of: “You big spunk”, for all Gen X Australians out there. Thank God that one disappeared, along with ‘80s shoulder pads. Although, shoulder pads are back, bigger than ever… and that is my point. We are hanging on to the past, tighter than ever. With good reason.
So, it stands to reason, if we are clinging to the past and its lessons in strength and fortitude, why do we feel the need to create a new concept for it? Why can’t we just call things as they are? Why do we have to reinvent? Every. Single. Second.
Innovation is fabulous, confusion is unnecessary. One thing is certain, particularly at this time, we definitely do not need to consistently change our language to make everyone think they are missing out on something, or there is something they do not know, some other way they do not measure up. For example - some new job role, which in actual fact is simply a woke new job title for an existing role. And, we definitely do not need to label what we are experiencing every five minutes. This was supposed to be the no-label generation, the generation who freely embraced diversity and acceptance in all shapes and forms. Anyone else get the irony in that?
One thing you learn as a futurist or forecaster, there is a reason behind, and for everything. The reason behind the term new normal is perhaps that it offers succour to many. Embracing the word “normal” as it does, it heralds the promise of conforming to a standard or regular pattern. Wrapped up in semantics, is the promise that things will somehow settle down, there will be some routine, even mundaneness again to life, something usual and predictable. Something that many of us are craving. But, put the word new in front and it basically alludes to something we have not experienced before. The word new, by definition, means something not existing previously, therefore something not entirely predictable.
Sooooooo, the new normal actually means regular unpredictability.
Basically, no-one has a clue what is going to happen.
In this age of the need for transparency can we not just say what we mean, in simple transparent text, or as the Germans say: in klar text. So, no-one, anywhere, has any doubt. In a simpler world - which let’s face it is what everyone is saying they desire - and in less marketing speak, without the alliteration, we could simply acknowledge that we are experiencing a mammoth disruption to life as we know it, a huge, unprecedented interruption and what will follow will be anybody’s guess. And here’s a thought, we could leave it at that.
So, in that vein, I am going to take my own advice, I am going to leave it at that, and I am going off-line to experience reality, simple everyday life whatever it brings and whatever that may be, at this time.