Counterculture begets culture. This is how history has always taken shape; in our new (semi) post-pandemic world, we’ve experienced such a jolt in our once-standardized ways of life and that newfound uncertainty has us looking back in order to move forward. Marian Salzman’s new book, The New Megatrends: Seeing Clearly in the Age of Disruption, provides solace for the confusion and chaos that concerned citizens, thought leaders, and business decision-makers have been facing over the world’s current state. Salzman, the SVP of Global Communication at Philip Morris International, has been a Global Trendspotter for over four decades. Using her experience in trendspotting, Salzman focuses specifically on the periods between Y2K (the year 2000) and what she establishes as Y2K38 (the year 2038) “[starting] by peering into the past to perceive how it has flowed into the present, blending the roles of cultural historian and futurist” (Salzman XV). Her intuitive yet data-based expertise lends itself to thoughtfully articulating some of the key seismic trends we will be seeing in the next two decades.
Covid set the tone for the “Great Reset” of cultural, political, technological, and overall social movement. When health is truly wealth and all we have is each other and ourselves, a minimalistic approach to life shook up and lifted the veiled facade of many of our intricate, prior daily routines and values. What once seemed necessary, like office spaces and extended twelve-hour workdays, proved futile when push came to shove in the pandemic era. The new megatrends Salzman identifies ultimately call out to humanity’s overall radical new world. Pushing through the white noise of excess information and hyperspeed lifestyles, we must look inward to find a calmer, safer future filled with literal and figurative breathing room and authenticity.
Will Climate Change Impact Where You Live?
Climate Change “overhangs every aspect of our lives,” which means humanity will be preparing for inhabitation through the lens of sustainability and environmentalism. (Salzman 33) Extreme weather, from droughts in Asia and Africa to wildfire season now a common occurrence in California, forces the common consumer to “[begin] to change their habits” (Salzman 40) and “become ‘more eco-friendly.’” (Salzman 42) This paradigm shift provides “injecting a sense of control into a world that seems permanently posed at the edge of chaos.” (Salzman 44) The population will start migrating and living in places with clean water and air, as an unblemished environment will become the upper echelon of luxury living.
Why Tribalism May Be the Main Cause of Misinformation
Bunker Mentality and Peaceful Coexistence as PTSD from Covid means the rise of tribalism in our social groups. “The pandemic gave people worldwide a collective experience, a sense of unity unfamiliar in the digital age.” (Salzman 96) This can cause a rise in misinformation and fake news, but we will continue our do-good mission over the internet to form like-minded communities as a way to connect.
Will The Great Resignation Kill the 5-Day Workweek?
Boundaries are dissolving and reforming in new ways, which include how we think of professional work-life balance and physical office spaces. “Many cultural boundaries related to gender and social standing continue to melt away, new boundaries are emerging — and some are defined by the people once classified as victims.” (Salzman 105) The previously marginalized are rising up to call out misogyny, cultural appropriation, mistreatment at work, and reclaiming the confines and limits of what is socially acceptable.
Will The Future Actually Be Inclusive?
The fight for equality is ongoing as we work towards a more inclusive future. “Inequity is no longer quite so easy to hide and is growing exponentially, with little indication the pattern will change.” (Salzman 140) Even harder to ignore during Covid’s lockdowns, disparities in privilege via healthcare, household income, race, and overall injustices came to light. The world is retorting by embracing the “notion of a universal basic income [becoming] less and less radical” and with a “toning down of excess.” (Salzman 153) Identity is a spectrum, with “people increasingly reluctant to squeeze themselves into societal boxes prescribed by others.” (Salzman 157)
Can Education Survive Another Pandemic?
Education, including pivotal moments of childhood development and socialization, helps breed a thoughtful individual, yet was deeply affected by the pandemic. Now, ourselves is key. The rise of selfie culture “encompasses a cultural trend toward self-everything: self-absorption, self-promotion, even self-loathing.” (Salzman 197) We curate our lives on social media and broadcast ourselves on a democratized internet where everyone has a chance to be the next TikTok star. Although the worldwide web intends to bridge the gap between all of us and plays an instrumental role in remote teaching, our individualized algorithms end up insulating our hyper-targeted interests. Our lives online are no longer an alternative to reality but an integral part of it; by 2038, there are bound to be thought and mind-oriented technologies tailored to everyone. We are already seeing this through personalized feeds and virtual reality. The trick for humankind is to make sure that while we are self-oriented, we work to effectively unite as opposed to divide ourselves.
An essential read for any reader concerned yet excited for our near future, Salzman pinpoints the exact themes to identify by 2038 for all critical thinkers and business leaders alike. You can find The New Megatrends out now to devour and write notes at your own pace on Amazon here.