Staring at a crucial new era

For most of us, the beginning of a New Year means a new start.

It doesn’t usually last for very long - in my case the good intentions usually fizzle out before the Christmas tree goes to the recycling centre in the sky.

But this year is different because we are not just saying ta-ra to 2019 but we are waving off an entire decade. If, 30 years ago, you had asked the 12-year-old me what the 2020s would look like, I would’ve painted a vivid picture of an age where we holidayed on the moon, could go shopping whenever we wanted and never again had to engage in proper conversation - unless we wanted to.

Two out of three wasn’t bad.

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The next 10 years could see the world change forever. Between now and December 31, 2029 we could have a booming space tourism industry - even if the punters are all multi-millionaires - and roads full of self-driving cars.

We could also go beyond the point of no return when it comes to climate change, the most pressing issue of them all.

There can be no doubt at all that the ‘20s have all the makings of being one of the most important eras in living memory but what about the 120 months we have just lived through? The 2010s will surely be remembered as the Polarised Decade; a time when we abandoned reasoned debate and resorted to screaming at anybody who didn’t share our world view. Smartphones and laptops have allowed the gobby among us to become even gobbier while activists and politicians have grabbed social media by the horns and use it to talk directly to the masses. While not always playing by the rules.

Who knows where this very 21st century phenomenon will head in the coming years although, if you took at face value the people who claim they are on the brink of deleting their Twitter or Facebook accounts, then there is every chance these platforms might die out in the ‘20s.

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I suspect the prospect of not having an outlet from where to inform semi-strangers where they are holidaying or instructing folk how they should vote will be enough to convince people not to go ahead with the threat of a digital purge.

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