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Blame It On The 90s
An economic nosedive, Depp v Heard, Taliban and the dark ages - what is going on and how do we handle uncertainty ahead?
I’m not entirely sure where to start. It feels like each time I sit down to write, the world goes a little more haywire. Just this week, we’ve seen the pound plummet, parliament in tatters, women’s rights being thrown to the wind and the temptation to keep doomscrolling is greater than ever.
Do we, Don’t we?
We’ve been teetering on the edge of do we don’t we with regards to remortgaging or moving over the last couple of weeks - a booming house market can be tempting when you hit 50 and realise that getting a 25 year mortgage isn’t on the cards for much longer! So, I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on Rightmove and over the last few days, rather than notifications saying ‘new properties’, I’m getting notifications saying ‘new reductions’. Now if that’s not a sign of an uncertain economy, I don’t know what is. The Bank of England then confirmed the rise in interest rates we were waiting for, the pound plummeted and fuel continues to be eye-wateringly expensive. It all points toward a recession by the end of the year, I know, miserable - but survivable!
Politics - oh good Lord the pantomime continues in Westminster, from party-gate which has now spread party-wide, to porn-in-Parliament, and no surprise results in local elections, it’s hard to know where to put our trust. But, there’s been plenty of xxxgate in politics throughout history so this is survivable too!
Global unrest, ugh, this is where my heart really hurts. The war in Ukraine continues and we are now beginning to hear of the unimaginable horrors that have not been broadcast widely, the tales of rape and murder of women and young people in front of their families is utterly repugnant. Then yesterday we heard the Taliban has enforced new legislation demanding all women in Afghanistan cover themselves completely. It’s like we are entering the dark ages - throw in the potential changes to abortion law in the US and it leaves me scratching my head. Where is all this heading?
At the same time, we’ve got the Johnny Depp v Amber Heard case being played out publically, and next week the Vardy v Rooney trial begins - which I thought was done and dusted, clearly not. It does rather remind me of a time when all was well and spats between WAGs dominated the news. I never thought I’d be saying it, but can we go back to those days please?
Unfortunately not, the only way is forwards. And so how do we do that without falling apart or giving in to what seems to be inevitable? Which fires do we fight and which do we leave to burn themselves out - or potentially rage on. How do we tell? There’s no denying it’s a challenging time. So I had a look back through history this week, just to remind myself of the patterns we have seen emerge over the last century:
1930s - The Great Depression. Britain was already struggling to pay the debt from WWI, then in 1929 Wall Street crashed, sparking the collapse of the international financial system, the stock market lost about 90% of its value, unemployment doubled and the average UK family income dropped by 40%.
1940s - A decade of sorrow and patriotism. Food and clothing was rationed as WWII continued. In 1941, the blitz saw the Germans bombing Britain, killing app 43,000 civilians.
1950s - Britain began this decade exhausted, many major cities were still bombsites and there were shortages of supplies for everyone. However, by the end of the 50s, there was a post-war economic boom, baby boom, more jobs, more consumer choice.
1960s - An age of change for the better, this was a time of innovation, peace and the fall of many social taboos. The contraceptive pill was developed which sparked a sexual revolution, we saw the first landing on the moon, the civil rights movement and of course the Beatles.
1970s - This decade saw the beginning of the environmental movement, plus a recognition of rights for women resulting in legal abortion, maternity pay, and refuge and rape centres being created as the domestic violence act came into force.
1980s - The age of consumerism began. Yuppies, mobile phones, brands, MTV and shoulder pads.
1990s - The age of peace and prosperity. The end of the Cold War and the rise of the internet. The Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union fell and along came The Spice Girls, Friends and the Blair years began.
2000s - Ha, so the world didn’t end! The turn of the Millenium marked a time of possibility and hopeful plans for the future with technology elbowing its way into our lives. With new Nokias in our hands, we played snake while Al Gore tried to inform us of the Inconvenient Truth. Big Brother then came along and the obsession with fake reality began.
2010s - Smartphones came along and the rise of the internet accelerated as things started going viral. Twitter, Instagram and a whole new category of purpose appeared - the influencer. Twitter got political and if it wasn’t in less than 140 characters, it wasn’t worth reading.
It’s hard to tell which way we will go next, and at times it feels like we are reaching boiling point. I can’t help but think we are close to spontaneously combusting, we weren’t built to exist with computers at the centre of our lives. We are organic living beings who have built a world that never stops. We need space to breathe and be and we need to be intentional in protecting that space for both our mental health and our emotional strength.
History tells us that we will come out the other side of this, but that will be shaped by those who are willing. Accidental activists (last week’s post), step forwards.
It can feel overwhelming, can’t it? I recognise that when I try to take on everything, it quickly becomes too much and then I’m useless to myself, and those who need me most. It’s usually at this stage that you might notice me step away from social media or be less out and about, it’s because I need to be more present at home. I find it grounding, nurturing and strength building. From that place, we can make a difference, big or small - it all counts!
I talked with Cathy Madavan about developing resilience on the podcast in Episode 54 (click here to listen) and hot off the press, Dr Sam Akbar’s book Stressilient is coming out this week saying the same. We can’t avoid stress, we have to learn how to manage it ….
Manage your mind. Handle your emotions. Concentrate on what matters in life.
I was listening to Radio 4 earlier this week, and there was a fascinating programme called What Really Happened in the 90’s by Robert Carlyle. It’s a multi-episode series in which he dissects culture in the decade that brought us Friends, and Girl Power, the decade where we started the quest for happiness. He has a point, the 90s have a lot to answer for.
Dr Sam Akbar shares her worries about how in the 2020s, we often reduce our feelings to meaningless hashtags, and normal human emotions like sadness are reframed as poor mental health. It’s great that we have more awareness of mental health issues, but it can mean that we forget the importance of resilience. It’s part of life to negotiate the struggles, and I would argue, it’s the source of much deeper joy when we do.
So hang on in there and stay the course. Remember to nurture your body and feed your soul - we are not designed to live in the system we built! Hard times may be upon us, but they do not define us - how we deal with them will!
Until next time, love first
PS - If Ukraine can keep their chins up and enter into the spirit of Eurovision, then we can do the same. (Semifinals are Tues & Thurs this week if you’re up for it!)