From the tell us something we didn't know department.. Reuters reported this week on a new Harris poll about how we spend our days. The time we spent working rose by an hour this year (you already knew you were pedaling harder just to stay in place, didn't you?). Meanwhile, time spent at leisure or play dropped four hours (ditto).
And what are we doing with this 'missing' five hours? The pollsters weren't so sure. They said the time fell into a "nebulous gray area" that the respondents could not easily tag as either work or play.
"As the American economic situation worsened, people who were worried about their jobs spent more time 'just checking in' via computer or wireless device," the folks at Harris observed. I take that to mean time spent commiserating with friends or surfing the web with nothing much to show for it.
" Nebulous gray" is a perfect phrase for the zeitgeist of the moment. We are cloaked in a cloudy haze of queasy worry with an anxious ear cocked for the sound of another shoe dropping.
As I observed on the phone to a friend, it feels like "nothing but frozen tundra out there" even if you are sitting in a sunshine state. Instead it seems all the old signposts are getting lost in a swirling fog.
It used to be you could re-position, or re-invent, or resurrect a dormant part of yourself to adapt, and after decades of life in a roller coaster economy, Boomers got good at bouncing back from setbacks.
But today all the old fallbacks seem to be falling away, and they have yet to be replaced by new beacons of hope.
Beacons Around the Bend, Now Dead
There always seemed to be another beacon around the next corner before. If one industry faltered, another one rose; it was just a matter of learning to play the new game (especially if living near Silicon Valley). If one sector was short on jobs, you might move from business to government or to an NGO and still keep on truckin'. If one region hit new lows, another state was surging, and if you lived in the fast lane you might move to a place with a slower pace and make a living off the margin between their skills and your own.
But now the goods and services that used to seem rare and worth a premium, seem to be worth a dime on the dollar in the global economy, especially given how often information just wants to be "free" -- both literally and figuratively.
It also used to seem that if all else failed you could trust wiser heads to prevail in high places. But the icons of public trust no longer look so iconic. After 40+ years of dethroning authorities and asking for a "flatter" society we reaped what we sowed. Transparent government too often told us more than we wanted to know, including how often the folks in high places were no smarter than than the rest of us, and all too often, drunk on their power and perks to the point of abusing the trust.
Altogether it is enough to make you wish for a moment that you could duck into denial and psuedo-certainty, the way they do on Fox News. Then you remember that John and Sarah came spookily close in the popular vote by pandering to people who just want to hear that Right is Right. Your desire to duck it is quickly expunged.
Mission Seeking Some Mojo
I began to blog about Boomerdom hoping to put some "bounce" of my own into the topic of aging before we became seniors ourselves, believing our Gen will redefine its next phase the way we redefined so much else. Now I feel like a traitor to my own mission to let this "nebulous gray" deflate me. It challenges everything I want to believe about my own resilience and makes me start to feel old far too soon.
But nudging around the edges already is the desire to push back and say "hell no" again, determined once more to resist. I just wish I knew at whom or what I should now raise my fist and believe it might make a difference.
All I know in this time of mist and fog is that we just have to get our mojo back, and I just have to believe that we will.
In the interim, I've just coined a tag "Recession Depression" to add to this blog. If we can't fix it fast, at least we can commiserate while we wait.