Tracking Memes: the Great Humbling vs. the New Normal

Tracking Memes: the Great Humbling vs. the New Normal

My husband has been amused how many times he has heard “the New Normal” since I wrote about that thought some time ago (March 2009).  You can search for it on Google Trends ( and see that though it was searched for since 2005, it was a news topic increasing in 2009. Interestingly, the Beijing Review recently attributed as an idea conceived by Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of the global investment management company PIMCO, and said it had become a main idea at the Davos World Economic Forum this past month.

Yesterday, my husband was reading an online article yesterday and was intrigued by “the Great Humbling” as a related meme, but couldn’t remember where it came from.  It doesn’t yet show up on Google Trends.  So I thought I would search it to see its incarnations:


The New Normal? Or the Great Panic of 2009-2011?

I asked in my MBA class last night — so what do we refer to about the current financial mess? One of the students called out: “The Depression.”

I put out two temporary names:

“The New Normal” — The past few years have been an overinflated blur of too much buying with no real value. Jobs were created selling things that people didn’t need to people who really weren’t generating the value to afford them. We really can’t go back there again and shouldn’t. The TARP Stimulus Package is going through old pipes into old sectors to bribe people into creating old types of jobs so people can want more stuff again. This isn’t creating new “innovation” or new value for society…minimal retraining…minimal rethinking…so far. So I might call this The New Normal.

The Great Panic of 2009-2011 — Maybe we will “recover” but to what? Maybe we will just gain confidence in the “system” and that we will have jobs and future wealth on the markets going back up again. But we will be jumpy, just like after a major earthquake. A car rolls past, rocks the floor a bit, and you jump and look for doorways. This is my more optimistic name (made more cynical by the timeframe…maybe to 2010?).

I stand a little firmer by The New Normal. There isn’t a chicken in every pot and some people may be fighting for that chicken. I want to figure how we raise more chickens, not just figure out how we go back to selling them pretty dresses to make them look nicer. (I know, bad metaphor.)

We are still applying bandaids and praying for rain. I’m not sure the rain is coming. So if the rain doesn’t come…how do you plan your life and actions differently? What if we aren’t in a world of “more” but are in a world of “divide” and “share”? How do we create Real “more” that society needs, not just wants?

More on this to come.