Saturday, February 8, 2014

In These * Times

On this blog I've been advocating for MetaDiscussion - ie. talking about talking about things - as a way for us to move forward, based on an assumption that we're in a period of extreme change, with attendant feelings of confusion, fear, indirection and so on.  

But it occurred to me today that I haven't fully validated my starting position on this path, so I thought I'd try to use Google as a social thermometer by searching for the words: "In these * times".  (The * is what is called a "wild card". Google will return anything that matches the other words around the asterisk exactly, allowing any word to appear the middle of that phrase.)

What I found in the top 10 Google results where an interim word was added was this:

Tough (2)
Hard (2)
Uncertain (2)

(Methodology: I did a Google Search for 'In These * Times'  and removed 'cold' from my results, which appeared in the results from a maple syrup ad.  (I live in Canada.)) 

If Google is to be believed, then we do indeed have troubles on us today.  I've been blogging about our need for societal therapists, so I wondered if Google could help with that too.

I searched "Source of wisdom" and the results of the search were telling: many pages of religious offerings, and a brand of jeans (?).  I was doubtful that God or new pants could help our troubles, so I paged forward through the results until I found this gem: 

What the dead lack in currency they make up for in depth. Accessing their work is an automatic exercise in editing: for it to have survived at all, beyond the championing of their living energies, it must have been unusually robust. 
The hot metal of their ideas will have been tempered into the steel of their finished intellectual constructs by the force of sustained peer critique and exacting editorial standards. 
Certainly, re-reading the closely-argued theories of, say, Erving Goffman or Denis Diderot feels qualitatively different from browsing the inchoate ideas that pour forth from even strong thinkers in a world forever in Beta.

A world forever in Beta !  What a great diagnosis of our current mental state by Helen Edwards, who is ... let's see... I assume she is a philosopher and a social theorist... no wait.. let's see here...

"Helen Edwards has a PhD in marketing, an MBA from London Business School and is a partner at Passionbrand. "

Discouraging.  Not to disparage Ms. Edwards' career choices too much, it seems to me that despite our clear need for societal therapy in these * times, there's so little demand for wisdom that we are redeploying our talented thinkers and social commentators as marketers.

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