“Now being wrong generates ‘engagement'”

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Hector G. Barnesfrom Madrid in 1985, works as a journalist in The confidential, where among other things, he publishes every Sunday a column on customs and daily sociology of our era. He reads the present tense as easily as if it were ‘Teo is going to explain life’ and as soon as he describes how hyperproductivity has professionalized the management of friendships to a frightful end, as the emptiness of our photographic footprint between 2003 and 2013that interwar period after film photos but before social networks that do not forget.

A couple of months ago (this humble keybreaker is the only one to blame for the delay in this article) he published his first book, Futurophobia: A generation trapped between nostalgia and the apocalypse, edited by Plaza & Janés. Under this term coined by himself, he narrates the evolution of a generation panicking about the future, accustomed to the fact that the apocalypse (economic, labor, environmental) is just around the corner, which incidentally has ended up taking refuge in its own victimhood. With him we talked about his book, especially on the topics that Xataka concern.

From scheduled walks to running errands for the elderly during confinement

The idea of Futurophobia It was conceived in the first months of the pandemic. Specifically, when the first evening walks, face mask and a meter and a half of interpersonal distance.

“That’s where I discovered the concept: I realized how naturally people accepted a situation that was unacceptable in principle, not foreseeable. There is a scientific-technical part that did know that a pandemic could occur, but the general population was not aware. There was no denial effect, that was a little later, especially as a result of the vaccinations. acceptance of the catastropheBarnes says.

The real size of all the countries in the world, compared to the size that maps always show

“The reading that was done is that it was something inevitable. Like the feeling that we were living an unsustainable lifestyle. On an environmental, psychological, economic level… We accepted walks a meter and a half away because of the feeling that the apocalypse was just around the corner. In those months of harsh confinement, there was something that the previous alert, that of the climate emergency, could not offer: visible consequences.

“With the climate alert we are all aware that something has to be changed, but we don’t know what or why. There is a wide range of attitudes to not do it: from asking others to leave their private jets first, to not being able to measure the magnitude of our actions. In a pandemic, on the other hand, the effects were very visible: by staying all of us at home, the daily deaths from COVID decreased. Or by shopping for an elderly neighbor, we prevented him from risking infection. Part of the futurophobia is that something that has to change but you don’t know what, or why, or how to do it, or how it’s justified”.

Nostalgia, not future

When we ask him about the role of technology in futurophobia, he talks about rapid cycles. Too fast. “There is a paradox: we think of moments without technology as moments when we were happier, but we are unable to stop using it. It is contradictory: technology is already beginning to be nostalgic. A new installment of Monkey Island, the pixel artmini consoles… Technology should be a propitiator for the future, but it ends up becoming a vector of nostalgia that already has its own industry behind it. Burn cycles so fast that homesickness is eased. We remember the time of Tuenti a lot, but in reality it was very brief”.

Tuenti is dead, long live Tuenti: ode to the social network that most influenced an entire generation of Spaniards

Héctor says of nostalgia in the pages of Futurophobia that “It has been installed with such force because it promises that we will experience the same sensations as in our childhood or adolescence, when every summer day in the village changed our lives, when we listened to the songs that would continue to excite us decades later or when we saw our favorite movie for the first time. That time is the basis of today’s cultural industry, which focuses on selling us those moments of revelation. Your first bike, your first console, the first time you saw starwarsyour first boyfriend.” A paragraph dedicated to people who spent forty years talking about the same six Star Wars movies.

“In adolescence”, says the author about nostalgia, “is when you discover those who will be your friends for life, the song you will always listen to, etc. They are memories closely linked to summer because it is a time of relaxation, a two-month vacation that as adults we will never have again, a parenthesis where we have an open mind to receive stimuli. A state that we will hardly reach again when we reach adulthood and that also contextualizes the nostalgia that its own industry has generated.

“I almost prefer the hate of Twitter to the good-natured goodness of TikTok”

I could not miss an article in Xataka on this matter a question about the role of social networks in futurophobia. “They have become an exchange of anxieties, depression, traumas and other problems, sometimes supportive, sometimes exhibitionist“, says the author in its pages.

When asked about it, he gives practical examples: “Each network generates its own dynamics, Twitter is the place of hate and TikTok is the place of goodness, but I almost prefer Twitter. The TikTok thing seems very fake to me, I think they are calls of attention. ‘Listen to me, I’m very nice’. But it has always happened: on Messenger if you were sad you put an ambiguous phrase so that people asked you what was happening to you. Now being bad generates engagement. Make vulnerability social capital.

I'm a psychologist and I'm suffering more anxiety than ever

The calls for attention camouflaged as good social vibes have their unfolding in the psychological solutionism that we have seen in recent years. The pendular movement in which mental health has gone from taboo (this is not talked about, for this reason it is not asked) to omnipresence (everything is fixed by sending the person to therapy arguing that it is very healthy and natural).

“There is a certain danger in leading us into a society with everyone in therapy”

“Perhaps not everyone needs to go to therapy or it is the solution for all the problems we suffer. Perhaps we should aspire to change our environment and not just our reaction to it,” says Héctor.

“This discourse can provoke a solutionism that ignores the conditioning factors that are there. Perhaps this comes from the fact that your boss is an asshole, or your partner is an asshole, there is a certain danger in leading us to a society with everyone in therapy, but it does not have to do with universal access to therapy. Mental health, by the way, is already big business in the form of apps that promise to improve it.

Without going to the extreme of health, but of something that perhaps would be good for us mentally, there is another request from Héctor: “Perhaps we have too much journalism, reality showstelevised debates, data… That is to say, us about reality, and we lack adventure, imagination, stories. There is a certain pride when someone says that they only read essays. A woman recently tweeted that this is a red flag. It happens to many of us, we think it is something intelligent, but the imagination is being canceled. Fantasy is what offers you the chance to think about the differences that exist with your life, to open horizons and get out of your usual mental frameworks. Fictional narrative opens up perspectives for you, and that’s what we lack in the future-phobic world.”

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The 259 pages of Futurophobia They are a story about today’s society and about a generation that, due to its context and its defects, has made its own a way of living based on the fear of tomorrow. A lifestyle told with depth but simplicity that anyone can understand.

Futurophobia: A generation caught between nostalgia and the apocalypse

Futurophobia: A generation caught between nostalgia and the apocalypse

The book of a generation that has stopped believing in the future. Futurophobia is literally “fear of the future”. Futurophobia is that feeling that makes us imagine that everything that is to come is going to be worse than what we already have.

Featured image: Salomé Sagüillo.

Hector G. Barnesfrom Madrid in 1985, works as a journalist in The confidential, where among other things, he publishes every…

Hector G. Barnesfrom Madrid in 1985, works as a journalist in The confidential, where among other things, he publishes every…

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