You may have noticed if you’ve got this far in the magazine (I’m not even going to joke about the idea of anyone rushing to the back to read this column before anything else) that this month’s issue is all about the new decade and the radical changes it could bring in all sorts of areas, from the environment and politics to technology and culture.
Whatever novelties may be on the horizon, it is above all the pace of change that causes my head to spin. I’d finally saved up enough money to get that MiniDisc player before the very idea was drawing snorts of derision from the CD crowd. So you move on to CDs, and just as you’re putting the finishing touches to your sludge metal collection, your sanity is being questioned because now it’s all about digital downloads - get with it! So you dutifully invest in an ipod and you’re finally getting the knack of connecting up to itunes before you can already hear the sniggers: never heard of streaming, grandad? During all that about six months have passed and you’re so confused and disheartened that you swear off music altogether and learn to be content with the voices in your head.
(I probably shouldn’t have written that because social attitudes are also changing rapidly, and it’s easy to imagine the disapproving comments about how mental health issues are no joking matter, actually, and how that’s just typical from a cisgendered, meat-eating, white male who probably doesn’t even do yoga and who would no doubt vote for Donald Trump if given the chance.)
According to tradition, it took Buddha seven weeks of continuous meditation to reach enlightenment, which is hard to imagine him doing these days with his smartphone dinging him with a Whatsapp message every 35 seconds. Imagine how history and culture might have changed if Buddha had passed on the joyous news that he had achieved nirvana only to be confronted with blank stares as the people around him quickly calculated whether he was being racist or sexist before responding with a dismissive: “Never heard of them, mate.”
Clearly, some changes can’t come quick enough. The leaps and bounds made by medical research today are to be welcomed (and a little more funding wouldn’t do any harm, if there are any politicians out there), while the forecasts on the imminent impact of climate change seem to justify the arguments that it should be referred to as the climate emergency.
Yet, there are other changes that need more time. Take one of the more important contemporary issues: football. A new manager is taken on and charged with winning the Champions League, which is notoriously difficult to do, but after spending €300 million and only managing a loss and two draws everyone’s calling for his head. At the same time, the statistics say that the average age at which children are exposed to pornography these days is 11 years old, while ever more take-away restaurants are offering free food if delivery takes longer than 20 minutes. Then there’s Apple bringing out a new iPhone (at upwards of a thousand euros) every 12 months, while on the Audible platform you can listen to audiobooks at double the speed to get through them quicker. Mind you, I have noticed that it is taking a very long time for average salaries to recover after the 2008 financial crash, but that’s just probably me being cynical.
Anyway, people who have read this column before will know not to expect any profound thinking, I just wanted to say, let’s slow down a bit, what’s the rush, and does anybody want to buy a MiniDisc player?