Review 2010: The Opinion Engine: 23/31: What events will define 2010 for a) you, b) the UK, and c) the world? (suggested by Ben Skinner)

paranoias 009

Life If twenty-ten has proved anything, it is that not every year does have a defining moment at least on a personal level. If you’d asked this question in 2006 I would have offered graduating from my MA or last year, well last year was all about Shakespeare pilgrimages and standing on the fourth plinth. Apart from finally watching The Wire, Veronica Mars and all of Woody Allen’s films in order, decorating the living room, visiting acres of the Biennial, winning that big screen tv and giving the recent talk at the social media café and generally keeping myself busy, there have been no matches or hatches, nothing specifically which I could say left me a changed person, redefined me.

For the other sixty-odd million people in the UK, the defining event will be the general election and the ensuing cuts, oh the ensuing cuts. Even taking into account that many of the measures aren’t due to implemented for a couple of years, the palpable sense of fear which has permeated society either because of the announcements themselves or the opposition reinterpretation. It will effect all of us to some measure, but it’s also replete with known unknowns, the sense that we, none of us can really be comfortable with our routines. Even in applying for new jobs, a seed of doubt has crept in, not just about whether this new position being applied for will exist in six months, but whether even the company or organisation will too.

Suggesting the news whirlwind that’s defined by the name of a single organisation – Wikileaks – was the defining moment for the world seems too easy. Isn’t it, after all, just reminding us of what we already know? That there are two different total information streams, the truth and the version handed down to us? If nothing else, it’s made us all decide where we stand on the issue, if it’s important that much of society continues to exist in a state of ignorance as to the decisions being taken on their behalf or, as I’ve decided, if the decisions are valid, full of merit and not for want of another word, embarrassing in a humanitarian sense, they wouldn’t need to be hidden and wouldn’t need to be leaked in the way they have through the publication of diplomatic memos.

In other words, despite the sense of renewal a new decade brings, we’re essentially continuing the general sense of paranoia which has otherwise defined this century so far. Paranoid about finances, paranoia about safety. Of course some of this paranoia is artificial, the product of propagandists, but some of it is very real for us rationalists because we can’t control the irrational because obviously you can’t have a rational argument with them. Instead of Christmas cards this year, I bought my parents some small, hand carved soap stone angels. Guardian angels. Even as I handed my money over at the stall in the festive market in Manchester, I wanted to imbue them with spiritual or mystical powers, for them literally to keep my parents safe because we don’t really know what’s to come.

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