Why you’ll be surfing forever
The late Tony Wilson
used to say that there was a cultural revolution and explosion of youth activity every 13 years – be it Beatlemania in ‘63, punk in '76, or acid house in '89.
His theory broke down in 2002 and 2015. That could be because the previous three examples were coincidences, but I reckon we’ve not seen that kind of cultural revolution again because (as I discussed yesterday
) the internet has fragmented our interests and there’s a lot less in the way of mass culture.
Those cultural revolutions in '63, '76 and '89 weren’t just about music. They coincided with shifts in political and social trends. Nowadays it feels more like we’re experiencing a giant, ongoing 'big revolution.’ Technology, politics, society, culture, it’s shifting faster than ever, without any period of calm that lets us take stock and really understand what’s going on.
Will it ever slow down? Well, all empires fall eventually but for the time being all we can really do is surf.
Surf? A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk to some school students in their late teens, and I told them that the best way to approach their budding careers is to treat life like a surfer treats their sport. To keep going, a surfer has to continually adjust their position, balance, and direction of travel.
The days of coasting through life are over. Let’s go surfing.