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What We Are Leaving Behind In This Decade

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Palwasha A.

Well here we are folks, right at the very end of this incredibly eventful decade. For many of you reading this, like our team at The Pvblication, this decade will have made up almost half of your life. In this new one, we’ll be heading into our thirties. Let’s take a look at how we’ll do that in the best way possible, and do ourselves proud by taking a tour through all the worst things that have defined this decade (many of them archaic remnants from older generations) which we’ll be rolling up our sleeves and pushing out of the frame with a vengeance in the next ten years.

Here are the top 5 things that have defined this decade and how we’ll be showing them the door.

Political Apathy

Let's bring out the big guns nice and early. My, my, have the results of political apathy truly reared their ugly heads this decade. In particular one especially ugly, orange head, but there are so many examples closer to home. There has historically been a disconnect from people and their government (a phenomena that crowd favourite AOC has dubbed “an observational culture surrounding our politics”) but this gap is closing faster and faster as it becomes more and more apparent that if we don’t do something, no one else will. Focusing on home, the general view is that compared to the extremism of the US and UK governments, Australian politics are quite centre-left, but under our negligent watch, our two main parties have become two money-driven sides of the same coin and drive our democracy further into the ground every day.

As I write this, choking on my smokey Sydney air, I’m inspired by the tidal wave of change-makers, especially school-age ones in recent years that are taking us into the new decade. The urgency of the situation has been recognised, that if we don’t fight, not only are innocent people being tortured on nearby islands at our governments command, not only are our draconian terror laws vilifying young brown children, but that our collective future is in jeopardy and our politicians do not care. This year saw the largest climate strikes in history, with the effort largely spearheaded by students (we interviewed several of these ground-shakers here). More and more young people are choosing to become politically active, working to break down the walls of inaccessibility that have plagued our politics and government for decades. People are less okay than they ever were in enjoying the creature comforts of now as flames light up our horizons, and we know this growing trend of caring will carry us into the next decade and steer the course of our future.

Fake Woke Culture

Working to appear politically correct rather than actually being genuinely unproblematic is the unspoken strangeness of the last few years. The term “political correctness” in itself suggests a superficiality to the effort, of wanting to be seen as doing the right thing rather than improving yourself to genuinely change a problematic mindset. The absolute absurdity of wanting to appear unproblematic without actually making any effort to stop being a sexist or a racist or a homophobe, etc. has been thriving, and while this in part can be blamed on entitlement and all the usual oom-pah-pah, let's address it specifically as a consequence of cancel culture- the trend of “cancelling” a person for a lack of total moral purity.

Let’s shout it from the rooftops - there is no such thing as moral purity or genuinely living without flaw. Holding people accountable for their views and actions is completely necessary, but with room for personal development and growth, to be able to fix one’s mistakes, and do better going forward. Admitting you don’t know much about an issue is empowering. It's only through losing our fear of making mistakes that we can begin to ask the right questions and truly learn and then grow from the learning. Acknowledging when I myself have felt out of my depth in a discussion about an event or experience I knew little about has led to some of the most incredibly eye-opening conversations I've had in my life. Make a commitment- in this new decade you will broaden your mind, pursue new knowledge and seek out stories that you otherwise wouldn't have engaged with (we're here to help you do it). No one is expected to know everything and the pursuit of knowledge must be given the value it deserves, while making sure respect is maintained in its acquiring.

Attitude Towards the Erosion of our Privacy

A couple of years ago, I went to a Vivid Ideas talk where a “future forecaster” (yes, this is a real job) taught us what we could expect from the coming years. Her name was Jane McGonigal and she was the first person to point out to me that when we think about our future selves, we actually imagine them as other people, and because of this it's difficult to place ourselves in our own future, and address it with the appropriate level of concern.

She gave the audience the following hypothetical: five years from now, you need to go to the bathroom and the only toilet is one that has a plaque above it letting you know that by using it, you are consenting to having data taken from your excretions by various third parties for the purpose of research into public health. She asked if any of us thought we would use it, and only one person raised his hand. When enquired, he said, "I want to say no. The idea of it disgusts me but I've already consented to so much that I never could have imagined being okay with ten years ago." The systematic erosion of our privacy over the last decade is one of the greatest emerging threats of our time (a recent example being Australia's data encryption laws and Facebook's many privacy violations) . Surveillance tech will play a part in the way brands market to consumers, the general rights and protections of citizens in our country and the way governments interact on the international playing field. This is not something that we can leave behind in the last decade, but it is something that we're changing our attitudes towards.

Some handy tips are to be the most careful and risk averse version of yourself online (we beg of you). Be the Whatsapp of messaging apps.

Commercialisation of Empowerment

We’re all beyond tired of companies marketing everything from makeup to razors as empowering, but there’s a side to this phenomenon that needs to be put under the microscope. With the rise in popularity of social movements- in this case self-empowerment- companies naturally latch on to make a buck. Think commercials for women’s razors telling you you’ll find empowerment in shaving an already hairless leg, a new concealer that will give you surface “confidence”, etc. The old-white-men-trying-to-take-your-money nature of these ads is clear and quite easy to sidestep as you head on your merry way to work.

However, with the birth of new media and the “ influencer” this past decade, the new power of being able to market with little to no regulation is now being used by individuals to capitalise off a movement that they don’t promote the values of, but in fact work against, by marketing themselves as a poster child for it. The most relevant and global example of this is the Kardashian family with female empowerment. Each of the members market themselves as powerful matriarchal business women while promoting and furthering the patriarchy’s agenda by creating and maintaining new insecurities in a whole generation of women. Their brand is to take the average woman's insecurities and rather than question why you should be insecure, change them to a standard of “physical perfection” that wows instead, a “physical perfection” that can be chased but never achieved because of the money and time required to emulate. Basically, under the guise of empowerment, what they benefit from most is keeping women focused on our looks as much as possible.

But don't lose hope- activists such as Jameela Jamil (and her iweigh movement) have taken on the topic and are fighting for more regulation around influencer advertising, with recent headline-making successes like Facebook and Instagram’s ban of “miracle” dieting products that in particular the Kardashians have thrived off promoting as a get-thin-quick scheme and the hiding of cosmetic enhancement promotion from under 18s. Thankfully, the rise in popularity of countermovements promoting real empowerment has been seeing the tide turn and while the danger of influencer marketing will not die with this decade, the commercialisation of empowerment definitely can.

Bystander Effect

Let’s talk about the bystander effect. How many instances can we all think of, where we’ve seen something unsavoury happening but have done little or nothing to stop it. The bystander effect is different to apathy- while apathy is the act of not caring, the bystander effect is caring, but doing nothing.

Our writers here at The Pvblication can think of many instances where we let the conversation deviate a little too far from our intentions or turned a blind eye where there was a moment of clear disrespect or aggression unfolding in front of us. But let's leave you with an example that we can wear as a talisman into the new year and remind us of what we can do when we act despite our fear.

About a week after the devastating Christchurch attacks earlier this year, I was at my desk when the directors of marketing at the company I worked for started discussing whether an ad they wanted to promote was racially insensitive. The only woman out of the three (head of PR) said that it contained subtle racism and wouldn't be a smart move image-wise, and the head of marketing started complaining about how PC everything had to be these days. I was getting angrier and angrier at my desk, and had stopped working, but the hierarchical nature of the work environment prevented me from saying anything. The final straw was a comment from the head of digital marketing, a man who said, "any other time it would be fine, but right now after the attack people will probably complain. We can always post it later."

At that comment, I knew that if I did nothing in the moment, I would let myself down completely and also vomit on my desk. I stood up, legs shaking, and walked over to people who could fire me and said "excuse me" in a voice that was sounded pre-pubescent. They didn't hear me. I said it again louder and more confidently and they reluctantly turned to me.

I said, "I could hear your conversation just now. I've been listening to the ad and it's not subtly racist, it's clearly and overtly racist. And the comment you just made- racism is never okay and the way you just spoke about Christchurch was disgusting. If we've learned anything from what happened, it's that we need to look way closer at our own mindsets, and make sure the things we promote don't incite further violence like it in any way."

I walked away after saying I'd be happy to review anything they had questions about. The energy at my mostly-white desk was angry. Colleagues I liked didn't look at me and you could cut the tension with a knife.

I hadn't felt that happy with something I'd done in a long time, particularly because the stakes were so high and because I was afraid. I acted on the impulse. We all can.

That’s it from The Pvblication folks, we’ll see you in 2020.

Trust us, we cut down a lot more from this list than we wanted to, because there are many toxic decade-defining things that we believe, based on how the tides are turning, we really will be seeing the tail-end of as we wrap up the last ten years. These signals of youth involvement, of people speaking up, of opposite sides having more meaningful conversations with each other, are hopeful indicators for the future.

Happy New Year to all our readers and a wonderful Christmas to those of you who will be celebrating. Thank you so much for your engagement with our content on this year of our launch. The feedback and response to our articles has often brought us to happy tears and we want to thank you for hopping on our slow-reading bandwagon. The next year will see even more exciting developments and growth as we continue to shed light on perspectives that are not the most mainstream and start rewriting our own stories.

Stick around for the journey as we take our ideas into the new decade.

Thank you.

From the team at The Pvblication.

Lead Editor: Tahmina R.

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