Trying to find the positive in a negative climate

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (696 Words)

We all know that the economy is badly screwed. And this isn’t just some country-specific problem, it’s economic buggery on a global scale, thanks to the wonders of a joined-up international banking system run by people who thought they were a lot smarter than they actually were. “Gold rushes” always collapse eventually, it’s just that in this case the gold rush knew no national boundaries and when it ended, everyone is left with a hangover, even (or perhaps even especially) the people that didn’t benefit stratospherically from the good times.

It’s already getting ugly, and it’s going to get a lot worse.

Like a lot of people, I’m outraged with those that drove this particular bubble to such a bursting point; I’ve always been sensible financially - I only buy things I know I can afford, I make sure I have appropriate plans in the event of bad times, etc, and now I’m paying for other people’s folly anyway. I refused to participate in the Internet bubble in the late 90’s too, knowing full well that it was built on hype and lies - and despite offers to get involved in the booming sector, it just felt wrong to start jumping into something I knew would fall apart at any minute as soon as people woke up and smelled the coffee. Basically, if I wouldn’t invest money in something, I sure as hell wasn’t going to stand there and encourage others to do so, just because we might have a fun ride for a few months. It’s immoral. But, that’s exactly what the supposedly reputable banking sector has been doing for the past few years.

I was annoyed by the Intenet bubble too, that the sector I worked in was crippled for a while by people who didn’t (or refused to) acknowledge that what most of them were doing was total, unsustainable nonsense. The difference that time was that at least it was mostly confined to one sector, to the people that screwed up (although some of us also got dragged into it too). This time of course, everyone suffers.

But, the scale of the repercussions of the utter financial folly of the last few years may have one positive effect - to force people to consider the sustainability of what they do, and to hold others to account in the same way. Short-term thinking, get rich quick schemes, the dream of that ‘one big break’ - all these things are distractions, glittery diamonds dangled just out of your reach that more often than not simply lead you directly over a cliff. I personally think that if people put more thought into how they might positively contribute to the world around them in the long term (as well as making a living of course), and less about how they might be able to get on the cover of Forbes or Hello, or wangle the purchase of yet another unnecessary status symbol, they’d actually be much happier, and we’d all benefit.

The culture of worshipping celebrity, coveting great wealth, chasing the high life - it’s a mirage and entirely void of substance. The few that do make the transition to that kind of life (especially in the public eye) often turn into emotional train-wrecks along the way anyway, so quite why this is a laudable goal is beyond me. Better to aim for real, practical and substantial goals - such as a decent living,  being happy, and preferably doing something with your life that you can feel content with (or even proud of), in a way that doesn’t require that you put a monetary figure on it before you can justify the time you spent doing it.

Maybe facing the reality of the folly that caused this economic recession/depression will trigger some people to reassess their priorities a little. If not, then it’s all been for nothing, and the only legacy will be a small bunch of people having gotten rich on the back of crippling the rest of the world for years afterwards, and the whole thing will be repeated in a decade or so once everyone’s forgotten. I’d rather not think that’s the end result.