35/365 All Grown Up

There is a running joke (low level humour, not universally or immediately amusing) between me and The Husband that I’ve always been middle-aged.

I’ve always either avoided or tolerated parties, enjoyed the notion of being tucked-up in bed before 10pm, and always loved the restorative qualities of a pair of cosy slippers.

Now I’m in my forties I beam with smug satisfaction that those preferences some mocked me for in early adulthood are now de rigeur. While contemporaries struggle with the relentless change brought about by middle age, I look on with delight at a job already done many years before.

But there is more to be done. It’s work I suspect will never be complete. More learning. More insights. More thinking.

Take this past week. I’ve spent a few days in Serbia working on a project with colleagues from a different part of the organisation. I didn’t know them before I flew out to Belgrade.

Such projects are a good way to get to know people professionally – an intense concoction of self-reliance and high-octane rapport-building. Such interactions prompt unexpected knowledge-recall too, giving you an understanding of just how little you give yourself credit for. There is no greater way of understanding just how far you’ve come than by putting yourself an entirely new environment, mentally and physically.

That in turn deepens your understanding of self and the environment you occupy. As I head back to the UK, some thoughts arise.

1. Now more than ever I understand how I’m a digital boy, how I’ve learnt how to live in the digital world ever since it began, and how that living experience has changed dramatically over the years.

2. I see a digital space which has become bastardised by self-aggrandisement and narcissism. Smartphones and self-publishing have done that – I’m a guilty party too.

3. Not everyone blogged when blogging services started up. Not everyone thought they had anything of any import to share. Facebook changed all that. Facebook, Twitter and the slew of social applications promised the world to everyone, made them all content producers, and in the process quietly lit the fuse to inevitable, albeit slow, self-destruction.

4. We used to say of online engagement that ‘the community will self-correct, self-police, and establish truth’. No-one says that now. We talk today about the effect of echo chambers on us as individuals and wider society, a consequence of the way digital has changed dramatically over the past few years.

5. If dramatic, even radical, change has occurred in a short space of time, how will it change in the future? What will digital be like? How will information be categorised, regarded, and paid for? Will there be a war over digital? What will the battle be over and between whom? Most interesting right now for me, can we as individuals shape that future and if so, how?

Middle age rocks.

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