Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Creeping Normalcy

A great concept which can be used to help understand why we tend not to notice things that are happening right under our nose. In interpersonal relationships it sometimes produces a surprised partner who says quite truthfully, "I had no idea that we had any serious problems." In government we adopt laws that reflect where the constituents are, and to the "old folk" in our community there is amazement that our system could do such a stupid thing. In our everyday life we have shifted from party lines for telephone use to individual handheld phones that we wouldn't be caught dead without. All examples of creeping normalcy.

Jared Diamond uses this concept in his book Collapse to describe how we are able to overlook some of the most obvious things that are happening to us. A new normalcy creeps up on us so slowly that we don't even notice it. We fail to notice the importance of the everyday things which when we look back make is so clear where we left one era and entered another. This is where mass media should be playing a key role. They have themselves shifted from a set of goals which included keeping the electorate informed to a new and powerful one: maximize profits from quarter to quarter.

So it is up to us to learn what is necessary to know in order to build the world we want to live in and start building the world we hope our children will live in. Creeping normalcy is a risk to us all and the way we live.

1 comment:

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