A new trend is emerging: we increasingly insist on being the whole and imperfect people we are.
The observation is one of the central points in sociologist and consumer expert Eva Steensig’s latest report, where she takes the temperature of Danes’ behaviour.
“The staging of ourselves as special, unique and exceptional is being replaced by an urge to be normal and live normal lives”, she says and explains that this is the biggest new bride she has seen in the 20 years she have observed our behavior.
“In recent decades, an ‘über-individualisation’ has affected all parts of society, from politics, workplaces and business, but is now being challenged. It’s a showdown with everything that was.’
Eva Steensig makes a living by observing our behavior and advising companies such as banks, the media and food manufacturers on where consumers and the spirit of the times are moving. The method she uses, ‘Pattern-Based Forecasting’, she has developed and tested over 20 years. It is internationally recognized, she explains, and is used by advertising agencies in many countries.
First, observations are collected that point to changes in our behavior. The most recent was a municipality which closed down an ice rink and left the sports associations in the lurch. Two 90-year-olds had gotten married. And men who knit.
She collects the observations in the base, and then once in a while she writes all the characters on yellow slips of paper and hangs them on a large blackboard. Also she looks for matching signs that form patterns.
“We know that when a common assumption becomes too shrill, or we start laughing at them, a backlash starts. A transition exists both the original and the backlash before we arrive at a new shared assumption. We are in such a time of crisis right now,’ she explains.
This time the pattern was that after years of individualistically staging ourselves as unique, there are signs that the wind is turning.
“We want to be allowed to be ordinary and surround ourselves with ordinary things”, as she says and emphasizes that employees will increasingly demand that their workplace make room for the whole person, the media ‘BeReal’ advertises by showing a truer the world, and as recently as this weekend, singer Tobias Rahim explained that his cancellation of the event P3 Guld, where he received the main prize, was due to an anxiety attack.
Bun with cheese as a competition parameter
From Eva Steensig seeing the first signs of a change until it has become the dominant behaviour, it often takes 3-4 years. She exemplifies the behavior around children and parents, because it is one of the places where she now sees a showdown with perfection and performance culture.
Perhaps 15 years ago, it was a common assumption that children should be allowed to be children. They were competent and “they would rather not learn anything in zero class”, as she puts it. But then came the first signs that something was changing. Children now had to go to the violin, to the ballet, we had talent shows with children who paid tribute to the elite.
“From the time we started seeing the signs until the front page of BT read: ‘This is how you get smart children’, four years passed. From the simmering, until it was an acceptable dominant behavior that children should be winners”, says Eva Steensig.
Today, the backlash will come, she believes.
“The idea that being a successful parent equals successful children has been around ever since. Where it is the talented children who get extra tuition or a personal trainer for football, and where parents post the children’s medals and grades on Facebook. But now a debate has arisen about the negative consequences of the achievement race, and about the mental health of young people, so the backlash is underway, and it is also about the right to be an imperfect, whole human being.’
And Eva Steensig believes that we are wise to listen.
“All handling of citizens, customers and employees, all branding, communication and all new concepts have been built around the pursuit of uniqueness and a culture of performance, but we see that this breaks down into a fatigue over the pursuit of being perfect, and the quest to live up to one’s own and others’ expectations. Imagine what it will mean for marketing, management and development when we will be allowed to be ordinary and surround ourselves with ordinary things’.
Source: Politiken.dk – Forsiden by politiken.dk.
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