Recent years have found people stuck in a juxtaposition of positive and not so positive impacts of life in an increasingly globally interconnected world. We are very much a global community. What a wonderful time we live in.
Yet offsetting this is much associated stress, chaos and confusion. Incidences such as the Christchurch shootings and growing warning signs of climate change are counterbalancing the positive aspects of globalisation. With the huge opportunities, there are rising levels of anxiety and fear. The world is full of opportunity, but also an overwhelming sense of scary.
In times of fear, people seek refuge. They seek safety, balance and calm. Hence the rise of counterbalances to globalisation. People seek safety in times of fear. They think local, simple and slow to counter global, complex and fast.
Below are five manifestations of positive counterbalancing in our lives, and finding refuge from the stress, chaos and confusion of our global world.
People are becoming increasingly aware of where their food comes from. Concepts such as minimising food miles have been known for many years, but are gaining momentum with increasingly media attention on questionably ethical farming practices in some parts of the world producing fruit and vegetables, seafood and other food products we import. There is increasing focus and conversation around sustainably supporting the local producer ecosystem. Local produce markets are growing in prominence and number, and home grown is becoming more common. There is increasing literacy in sustainable food.
Related to the above, there is a growing trend towards taking time and care in preparing a meal. The process of preparing a meal for oneself, family and friends, for the nightly meal or special occasions. The Slow Food Movement’s primary mission is to “prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast food and fast life, combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.” Taking time to cook carefully and with quality ingredients is increasingly understood to be more sustainable, enjoyable and healthier.
There is a growing demand for and interest in producing locally made artisan products. Be this local food products (olive oil, jam or fresh produce) and carefully hand made objects (jewellery, knitting or other craft). Time to slow down and produce something with care, rather than mass produced. The mindfulness required to produce an artisan product is about switching off from rush and mass global production, to time trusted ways. Growth in hobby and often entrepreneurial artisans producing locally crafted gins, honey, rugs, ironwork and whatever. (More >) Back to basic crafts.
While the internet has changed the meaning of community, there is a growing appreciation of the merit in physically interacting with others, face-to-face and eye-to-eye. Such interactions are important for our mental health and wellbeing. Research illustrates that online communities do not create the same positive neural pathways, and overcome the sense of loneliness of many segments of the community. People need to interact with other people. In the US (and other parts of the world) online shopping has killed many shopping centres (More >), and there is a trend towards community centres to allow shopping but more so community building through cinemas, food and other entertainment and culture (More >).
With a rising level of complexity and chaos in the world there has been a corresponding growth in the practice of meditation and other forms of mindfulness to disconnect from our always on digitally connected lives and to refocus. Growth in self-care Apps such as Calm and Headspace have illustrated the increasing demand for mindfulness. Apple and other smart phones have also incorporated usage and time limiting capabilities into their devises with an increasing level of discussion around the deliberately addictive design of such devises and negative correlation with mental health and wellbeing. Dumb phone and ways to block our digital obsession are ever growing as people realise that their lack of discipline is negatively impacting their lives (More >).
While as a society we can have a tendency to live life with the pedal to the metal and conform to the norm of faster and more global, there are positive and negative signs of nonconformity against this. Aspects of racism link back to a fear of the new global world, and naively fighting against inevitable change. Cocooning in our homes as our bunkers to a scary world outside will continue to rise, as will binging on Netflix and Stan and the likes of Uber Eats will prosper, while the vibrancy of many of our restaurants, pubs and cafe precincts will continue to struggle and die (More >).
Yet, there are signs that as a society we are counterbalancing the downsides of globalisation, from climate change to sustainability and rising levels of anxiety and stress, by coming back to basics, thinking local, going slow and being more mindful. People are switching off the increasing complexity of life (at least intermittently). They are increasingly thinking locally, and realising benefits of slowing down and taking care.