FUTURE THINKERs, where the f#@k are you
JUSTIN SMALL asks where the f#@k is all the creative talent as the earth burns? They are all doing car and beer ads that’s what. Are we all doomed or can the most creative people on the planet wipe their noses clean and get out of the toilet cubicle to help save the world little.
WHAT THE F#@K IS GOING ON?
The three horsemen of macro flux have arrived. Geopolitical, economic and environmental change have coincided beautifully to create what many philosophers of our time have called ‘a major clusterfuck of shit’. Some days it feels like 1939, and others like 2049. A fascist past combined with a dystopian future to create a truly bullshit present.
It seems capitalism is running out of road, and politics has turned to the past for its answers - but every generation has faced a political or economic crisis and managed to drive humanity forward. However, we today are unique in facing both of these whilst the beginning of environmental catastrophe is no more than 30 years away.
As a GenZer once said, ‘It’s a proper shit storm bruv’.
In all difficult times likes these, we look around to see where the fearless future thinkers & doers are, and wait for them to react to this macro flux and take up the baton as they have done so many times before - to not just save western civilisation, but the Earth itself. Where are these passionate energetic innovators who can lead the rest of their generation towards a new future?
In our own backyard, we have creative industries packed with the best talent in the world, worth £84 billion a year in the UK alone. These creative people are doing amazing innovative stuff that generates massive value to the economy, but what of the world? What is this talent doing for the future of our planet as we aimlessly head towards our self-destruction? What are you doing? More importantly, what am I doing?
F#@k all is the answer.
WHERE THE F#@K IS EVERYONE?
Will the real environmentalist please stand up?
It has almost become uncool to mention our impending destruction. It is a curious fact that, as we get closer to environmental Armageddon, environmentalists are portrayed as being more and more mental.
The truth is that there was a time when it was cool to be radical and upset about consumerism and its catastrophic effects on the world and try to save the planet through personal action (how naff does that sound today?). It used to be ok to berate people about seemingly minor crimes against the environment because we knew that big social change started with small behaviour changes - but now it seems the problem is so big, so impossible to tackle, and there are so many other cool things to be doing on our phones, that we have all given up and decided it’s just so uncool to even try.
But deep down we do care, and we don’t want to live in a dystopian future. We just want to do it on our own terms though. We love modern life and the ease of it all sooo much, and we want it to stay that way. Like inebriated lobsters sipping cocktails in a jacuzzi shushing anyone who mentions that the water seems to be getting hotter - we will deny our truth until the denial kills us.
The fact is, our futures are bleak if we carry on as we are. And we will take some of the responsibility because most us in the Creative Industries, what we could claim to be some of the best creative talent in the world, are too busy working on the next car ad/blockbuster/vr experience/innovative product/start up/ art installation/book etc to do much about it. Who has time to help save the world when we are all working so hard to save ourselves?
Is it not true to say that the baby boomers were the last generation that truly had to fight for anything? The following three generations - the XYZ of selfish inaction if you will - have lived off the fat of their liberal victories ever since. But now, the hipster vegan odourless shit has hit the fan, and it is down to us - the middle-aged ex drop-out corporatised GenXers, the fence- sitting uninvested neutralised GenYers, and the media-trained virtually-lost digitised GenZers.
We are truly f#@king doomed!
WHAT THE F#@K WE GONNA DO?
First of all, if you are not doing the basic shit like recycling at home, composting, cycling to work, avoiding meat as much as possible, not buying bottled water, avoiding plastic wherever possible, and choosing your brands based on the environmental credentials etc - then you need to sit yourself down and give yourself a damn good talking to. But we need much more than that from the most creative talent in the world. What we need is for all of us to begin organising ourselves and putting some of our energy into finding better ways of living our modern lives.
We all need to start committing time to innovating around our modern behaviours. There are simple changes in our modern life that sooner or later will need to be made. But we also need to be thinking much bigger than this. We should be rethinking the way we live from the ground up, and we should be offering our free time to projects to help redesign products and services to drive these new behaviours. We should be pressurising the companies we work for and buy from to drive the change we want to see. In short, we need to get off our arse and do something.
With that in mind, and so we at The Future Strategy Club are not accused of being all mouth and no trousers, we are launching a trio of sustainable projects with this issue - 20%Green, Unpackit and The Green Kid.
20%Green (www.20percentgreen.com) is a creative platform and hub of creative talent to help kick start new green ideas and support current ones. Using the spirit of Google’s 80/20 innovation time rule - but applying it to our free time instead of work time - we want to encourage creative talent to give 20% of their non-work time to a green project. Unpackit (www. unpackit.uk) is a behavioural change campaign to convince lunchtime office workers to reduce the plastic pollution of their lunches through moving from one use to reuse by bringing their own lunch container. The Green Kid (www.thegreenkid.org) is a sustainable toy certification ‘kitemark’ to help parents and children identify and avoid toys that damage the environment.
Will any of these small initiatives work? Will they change anything? Maybe, maybe not. But what matters most to us is the re-awakening of our sustainable selves through action, because this is the only way we can begin to change behaviours. If, like those inebriated lobsters, we wait too long to act, it will be too late to turn back. But if we start now, at least when the reckoning happens and the next generations ask us what did we do to try stop the environmental Armageddon, we can say we did our best. We may have been a bit too late to the party, but we tried and gave it our all.
Most importantly, we will be able stand proud when an angry GenAlphaer, wondering the dystopian streets of the future, corners us and angrily shouts in our face
‘You weren’t no f#@king environmentalist bruv!’
We may not be today, but we can be tomorrow if we try.
Dan Simmons has a 20+ year career in helping start ups and scale ups strategically leverage their thinking, brand and IP to disrupt new market sectors. He is the Founder of Propelia and has overseen the development of groundbreaking products that enable clients to have a rapid response to uncertainty and disruption. Dan is a thought leader in how disruption can be repositioned from a creative, strategic and planning point of view.