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New Year 2020

Well here we are! Not just another New Year, but a new decade! Which probably deserves more than the usual weak-willed resolutions to change our lives beyond recognition; resolutions that will dissolve before January is out because they probably weren’t viable in the first place.

Looking back at the 1900s, life was changing at such a pace, decade on decade, it was a total whirlwind. Travel evolved from horse drawn transport to space exploration. Machines took the place of many household chores and revolutionised the workplace. Fridges and freezers changed the face of catering. Mechanics gave way to modular system engineering. Foreign travel became more commonplace as air travel became popular. Two world wars changed the face of society and rock and roll introduced an exciting new music scene followed by a number of other genres, all of which my parents disapproved!

Above all, and in the latter part of the century, computers changed life in a way we could never have imagined. Door to door encyclopedia salesmen lost out to the internet with a wealth of knowledge beyond imagination available on the world wide web.

And whilst the telephone was patented in 1876, it didn’t become commonplace until the early 1900s. Right up to the 1960s manual switchboards were used which involved an operator physically plugging in cables to connect a call. But, by the turn of the century, mobile telephones were becoming popular and have evolved since into a hand-held computer, capable not only of making calls but also video communication, email, text and banking. Not to mention photographs, diaries and on demand TV

The digital age is actually the shortest in history but its progress has been unbelievably fast. For the most part this progress could be considered beneficial, but there comes a point….

I saw a recent TV advertisement that suggested that my life would never be complete unless I were able to control my blinds with my phone! Control my BLINDS! I’m sorry, my priorities in life may be misjudged, but I have genuinely never been out of my house, happily going about my business, only to be suddenly gripped by a sheer and adulterated misery because I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would be returning home to blinds that were not yet shut! Trust me, blinds are the least of my worries!

I can, to a degree, understand the benefits of being able to control the heating. Who hasn’t left for work, having not seen a weather forecast, without a mobile device thrusting a location orientated hourly breakdown of anticipated conditions and a total lack of realisation that it’s cold/wet/sunny or windy? Should your personal awareness be comatose on that day, then I suppose, grudgingly, that being able to put the heating on half an hour early might be useful.

But your phone can also control your lights and your oven, and your fridge can create a shopping list for you. Come on guys! Really? Actually, I already have an oven that I can set to switch on when I’m not going to be here. But for many of today’s generation, that is much too complicated a process and its abilities do fall down rather when someone is unexpectedly late home. Unless you have a fondness for cremated baked potato.

For some time now, I’ve had a picture of my mother’s television remote control on my computer screen so that I can talk her through channel changing at a distance of 168 miles. In the same way, I call my son in London when my computer doesn’t do what I expect it to do.

There probably comes a point, and I’m fast approaching it, where you just shrug your shoulders and say ‘well, it’s magic.’ I haven’t got a Scooby (scooby doo – clue) how it works, I’ll just accept it and work with it if I can.

But there’s a slightly more sinister aspect to where we are today. Beauty treatments have moved well beyond the odd face mask, massage or face peel. The drive towards a beauty compliance has created a generation of plastic Barbie look-alikes, all conforming to an unnatural norm.

Plastic Surgery Undressed is a programme about four ‘surgery seekers’ usually accompanied by a less enthusiastic friend or relative, in which they get to see their desired procedure performed live, along with interviews by one satisfied recipient and an unhappy one. Eyebrows threaded and waxed, faces filled and botoxed, lips plumped, and hair coiffed, bleached and teased with extensions, they’re already horrific parodies of their former selves Where did we go so wrong that people are so consumed with their appearance? I’m all for making the best of yourself (not that I often do) but I wouldn’t resort to the knife and genuinely can’t understand why anyone would unless they had a serious physical problem. Will we reach a situation where those not cosmetically enhanced will be the true beauties, only because they look different?

So here’s a suggestion for 2020. Let’s go with acceptance. After all the political shenanigans at the close of 2019 and the winners (deserved or otherwise) of Strictly or Celebrity, we can’t change the results. So let’s just accept those results and move on.

And accept the way you are. Be happy with who you are.

At the risk of upsetting all those magazines who will be capitalising on the latest fad diets this month, all the gyms whose coffers are filling as people promise themselves they’ll be regular attendees; just accept yourselves as you are. As someone who once walked six miles for a bar of chocolate, I know that if you really want it, you’ll do it anyway, New Year Resolution or not.

And if we really want change – recycle. Walk, don’t drive. Shun plastics. The future lies in changing the planet – not ourselves.


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