It’s difficult to explain the certainty that we experienced, the confidence we had that times were changing fast.  In the late 60s and early 70s we could see the confusion in our parents’ eyes.  We were not confused.  Radical change was underway.  I felt lucky to be alive.

When I cut my hair to go to work for my father in his Chicago girdle and bra factory, I was choosing to go underground.  I wanted business skills.  I wanted the skills to build.  So I withdrew from pastoral, coastal St. Petersburg, Florida, and became a spy in an urban, consumer economy.  Not feeling a part of the world of buying and selling things, I had a talent for it.  So I chanced a dance with this bottleneck to change, the American compulsion to consume, and entered into a 19-year career as a sales rep.  I quit working for my dad and started a gift and stationery sales firm.  I was a foot soldier, as McCain would say, for the consumer economy.  It was surreal.

Almost 40 years later, what felt immanent then is now visibly unfolding.

A couple years ago, walking past the living room of a friend, I noticed his dog lying peacefully on her side.  Her eyes were closed.  I noted to my friend how comfortable she looked.  Tom told me she had died just before I came in the door.  I was stunned.  She looked alive.

Our economy has passed.  Though heat still rises from the body, the heart has stopped beating.  Bush/Cheney still seek to encourage an early 1900s corporate elite.  The Left is still fighting the results of the Depression.  It is 2008.  The dog is dead.

Kids have been experimenting with transitioning away from a consumer economy for a decade.  An automobile is no longer the symbol of new adult independence.  The cell phone and the laptop have stepped in.  The music industry is imploding as young people exercise their ability to make their own choices.  The emphasis is not on having and consuming but on choosing.

We are entering the choice economy.  We display who we are by the choices we make and the relationships we establish.  Departing from keeping up with the Joneses, it’s become about exhibiting how we are unique from the Joneses.

Advertisers seek desperately for venues they can control.  Young people are deriving entertainment from Youtube, Facebook, websites and their friends.  Music has splintered into a hundred subthemes, dragging fashion out of the hands of the corporations.

We’re training ourselves and each other to exercise discernment.  Focusing on unique, we are letting go of what is the same.

We are entering the age of the neoteny economy.  Radical has arrived.


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