The dystopias and the restitution of the notion of the future
Science fiction is a growing genre in recent decades. In fact, according to Ampere Analysis, a platform dedicated to television research, it is the most popular genre among Netflix lists.
Contrary to what happened with the rise of modernity, where ideal utopias or fictitious societies reflected faith in progress driven by science, dystopias - fictitious undesirable societies - are now booming through series, films, novels, comics and videogames, they give account of a threat that, as a society, overcomes us.
It is the threat of an unkind world for a human life in the best of cases or destroyed and unlivable in the worst of them. But this threat of extinction did not arise suddenly but was installed gradually, opposing a short-term view of the world of consumption, another long-term that broke with certain characteristics that had been handling the postmodern paradigm.
With the disenchantment of utopias and collective dreams, postmodernism brought with it the well-known "NO FUTURE". A pure present, without past and without future, individual and narcissistic. A life to squeeze to the maximum, without taking into account the costs. A "society of fatigue or performance," as Byung-Chul Han calls it, where as entrepreneurs of ourselves and tireless enthusiasts of projects and initiatives, we become automotive and "we can do it all".
This South Korean thinker, critically conceptualizes this postmodern paradigm, in different publications, and makes visible its costs: the excess of stimuli, information and impulses and the consequent generation of a new form of violence called neuronal: exhaustion, fatigue and asphyxia before the overabundance , and states that "neuronal diseases such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), borderline personality disorder (BPD) or occupational burnout syndrome (ODS) define the pathological picture of the beginning of the century".
In this vertiginous scenario, full of hyperactivity and overloaded with stimuli, where multitasking and immediacy are the order of the day, the need to restore a systemic, almost ecosystem-like view, where each party counts on the balance, takes on more and more importance. of a whole. The concept that carries this role is that of sustainability. Today sustainability applies to everything: to energy and production, to links and commitments, to food ... Even to consumption. According to a study conducted by Unilever in 2017, some of its brands that integrated sustainability in its purpose and its products, such as Dove, Knorr and Ben & Jerry's, grow 30% faster than the rest of the business. And contrary to what we might expect, this high tendency to responsible purchases is significantly higher in emerging economies.
What does this concept of sustainability bring us? Why does it apply to everything?
We always knew that everything has some kind of cost (material, affective, emotional, social, environmental), but today we are aware that today's costs can be paid tomorrow-the invoice will come at some point-and that the cost that I generate I can pay elsewhere, but in the long run it impacts me because everything is a system: we are all in the same boat.
This results in a change of interpretative framework, which still coexists with the old framework of much weight, and which encompasses not only the way of thinking, but adds the dimensions of feeling, energy and spirituality or harmony with something greater whatever the concept: nature, universe, God.
And while we can not stop paying a cost, what we can try is to reduce the cost, and choose which cost we want to pay and at what time. We negotiate with ourselves, as subjects and as a society, and in that calculation the exercise of the limit or the abstention in pursuit of sustainability strongly enters. We manage with a greater awareness of the impacts - we measure the environmental footprint in 14 categories! We strive to offer work life balance programs in companies, we try to have a better diet, with fewer excesses and just portions, and we begin to question the absolutely public life of social networks, putting issues related to privacy on the table.
This is the reality where we are going, and companies are aware of this, since their sustainability is also tied to their adaptation to the emerging framework. Undoubtedly, the transformations are not simple and there are innumerable questions: Could there be some benefit tied to lower consumption? With which social actors could join forces? What are the issues that really matter to us? What goals do we propose? What indicators do we develop to measure our impact? In what way do we support a better quality of life at an accessible cost, so that living better is not a luxury?
But, as the Orientals would say, the threat is also an opportunity. Beyond improving the portfolio of products and services, beyond identifying the best brands to articulate them with this new look, beyond finding insights to communicate innovation, beyond improving the benefits for employees, beyond having programs with the community, the real challenge lies in transcending a fragmented view of sustainability and being able to think it holistically and integrate it at the heart of the business model.
* The society of fatigue, Byung-Chul Han, Herder, Barcelona, Spain, 2012
This note was published in the September DIMM research journal. To view it online: click here