This popular phrase, which my old firm considered as a title for a multi-client meeting in 2009, may be giving us the wrong impression. We went instead with “New Dimensions,” as we felt the New Normal provided a kind of false comfort that things were going to settle into a different, but entirely recognizable pattern. Basically, the future would be like the recent past, only less.
There is an element of truth to that, but it is a one-dimensional view, fixated on economics. For instance, a recent Business Week story, The New Normal Is So Normal, is focused entirely on the economic aspect. It represents what should be a new wave of “new normal” debunking stories that should soon be arriving with a message that the New Normal is bunk, and we’ll be returning to the “old normal” soon.
Regardless of which “normal” one believes in, the point is that the issue has been framed to over-emphasize the economic aspect. We used the “New Dimensions” idea to suggest greater changes were afoot. In particular, the slowly emerging shift to postmodern values, which suggests a consumption ethos of less, of feeling a sense of enough, of a desire to get back control of one’s time and life, of an emerging sense of sustainability, of a preference for the experience over material goods — these long-term changes have been underway for a generation, thus my belief that the current emphasis on the state of the economy may be obscuring them. Andy Hines