The Indifference Economy

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Strange times provoke strange thoughts - not helped when the news is a constant barrage of mixed messages about how we’re all going to be doing economically in the next few years - and what’s bothering me is what kind of an economy are we going to be living through next?

I’m asking myself this, as the thought struck me very early the other morning (as an aside, one of the things about getting on a bit means suffering less sleep, so these kind of mental dawn raids racing up from someplace in my head become quite a nuisance (for us both, eh?))

My hunch is having done ‘experience’ and ‘attention’ (outside of the ‘traditional’ ones like Mixed, Command, Central - the ones Economists like to believe are the science - the type marketing mavens like to coin) it’s indifference’s turn. 

Way back in 2009, Mark Vernon, writing for The Guardian, asked what the economic impact of mistrust might be having on our collective, cultural psyche. 

The question was a neat skewering the mess of the 2008 crash - where events beyond our collective control imploded our faith in markets and politics. Well, some aspects of some markets and some politicians. 

It seems indifference has been slowing building (if that’s no a contradiction?) ever since. 

Hardly surprising.

It seems “there are certain mistakes we enjoy so much we are always willing to repeat them.” Or have them repeated on us. The gift of experience turns out to be double edged. 

Which made me wonder, have we entered a new economic phase, where those at the helm increasingly don’t give a toss - with all that implies for our culture as well; the trickle down effect doesn’t simply apply (well, it doesn’t) to economics but to every aspect of society. People just stop caring a bit less. 

A good deal of design activity encourages indifference. To make design choices that help avoid thinking about the negative impacts of things. So you’re welcome to the wonderful Indifference Economy. 

I’m not sure I care to take part.  


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