On the way into the 2020's

NEWSPAPER EDITOR / The conversation with Thomas Hylland Eriksen.


release Go into your time (Res Publica) gives the opportunity to see a couple of Norwegian intellectuals in the cards – namely Dag Herbjørnsrud its many conversations with Thomas Hylland Eriksen. They both have a past as editors behind them, in Ny Tid and Samtiden, respectively. Historian of ideas Herbjørnsrud and social anthropologist Hylland Eriksen talk throughout 50 years – through the decades 80, 90, 00, 10, and beyond the 20s.

The 80's had among other things Street newspaper and the gap period, and the decade ended with most parties getting an environmental program. According to Hylland Eriksen, the left side of the 80 number consisted of active cosmopolitan socialists, while today the public is characterized by the nationalist left – he describes the newspaper Klassekampen as the "national conservatives".

With the # 90s, according to the book, came a greater understanding of the multicultural. And we can add the postmodern new Morgenbladet to this decade. But materialism, self-indulgence, identity politics and theory also characterized Norway, before the 00th century came on September 11 and attention was focused on terror and permanent warfare. Equally interesting is how the media is changing and helping to spread fear and create the new control society in the # 00s and beyond. As mentioned in the book, Youtube also came in 2004, iPhone in 2007, and Facebook was established in Norway the same year. Hylland Eriksen described our time in the book The tyranny of the moment (2001), or preferably the lack of time. The "happy 90s" with all the screens simultaneously created concentration difficulties, multitasking and haste. And today he points out how this has accelerated where text messages, mobile phones, the web and the internet make "we can lose understanding" of causal relationships, that we lose the order of things of sight.

In our fragmented time, with all the gadgets, newspapers such as Ny Tid and Morgenbladet have done their best to remedy this – and preserve an "soul" of reflection, as Hylland Eriksen recently wrote in a column against new changes in today's business-owned and profit-driven Morgenbladet .

He also says in the book's conversations that while the 90s were more "guided by reason and informational ideals", today's Norway is characterized by emotions and impressions. Thus, newspapers and social media appeal to senses and emotions, rather than the rational part of the brain. Yes, we all know populism in the US, Poland, Hungary, Italy and others. The bottom line is that this is well helped by new media technology and algorithms. But also of an increasingly complex world where people are exhausted and demand simple answers.

Smart Phones

The smartphones are the theme of Hylland Eriksen's upcoming fifty-eighth book. As said in the book talk, is smartphoneone almost becomes an extension of the body. We have also heard in the past that technology is prosthetic, but now it is more pervasive – if you look around, only at the tram, how many do not hold such a hand? Or are you one of those who almost collides with pedestrians, the "hand-pedestrians" of our time?

When Herbjørnsrud asks what the main problem with the 00s has been, he gets the answer that "so many people talk in the mouth of each other ... with a lack of a project." And well helped by the unfortunate effects of electronic communication, "namely the increasing fragmentation and tendency of nihilism," adds Hylland Eriksen.

That thought and creative power have worse conditions than before, the scholars may doubt.

At one point in the book, I wonder if Hylland Eriksen is moral, or merely descriptive, when he says that "the number of likes gives you an experience of what you mean in the world." He believes that to feel valuable, one must constantly out on online to get attention. The consequence is less time, or you care less about the afterthought. One of the book's many issues – environment is also significantly covered – is also how aggression and hatred have increased with social media and the newspapers that follow. Also helped by how the media puts out so-called "rage-eats", provocations that will create "debate". Much of this sounds like good descriptions, but, do you think less than before 1980?

Thoughts and opportunities

That thought and creative power have worse conditions than before, scholars may doubt. And Marshall McLuhan once called the media community for our new global village where we have become numb to the plethora of information – numbing and dumbing down.

But I doubt. For in the communication society a number of new forms of contact also arise. And in spite of gab class, the tabloids' crap ball, NRK and other people's eternal entertainment, there are still pockets for different groups and minorities. And even though young people today have grown up with mobile glued to their hands, a number of networks are being created. Ask yourself if previous generations were really good at talking to each other or to their parents.

There are many conversations at present, also at the Literature House in Oslo: Last month Hylland Eriksen spoke and John Postill om smartphone – and The range of positive pages is long. Especially with new mobiles, activists and protesters around the world today (Hong Kong, Barcelona, ​​Beirut, Santiago, Caracas…) can, with their mass demonstrations, urban riots or autonomous groups, map the police movements and other challenges – in new collaborative apps in real time posts people observations or streams video directly.

Hylland Eriksen mentioned in the conversation book that all his examples from Moments tyranny seems outdated now 18 years later. Yes, today the world has 2.7 billion smartphones. Not only do they simplify everyday tasks for many of us in the West, but in developing countries new mobile communications have provided opportunities individuals never had before, such as work and trade with others. In addition, many can perform remote work via the Internet and mobile.

Also interesting was Hylland Eriksen's example of the Literature House about refugeeis: Today, the first arriving refugees are asking where they can charge the phone! They find travel routes through Google Maps, check the weather, search for family and contacts, conduct "micro-coordination", search for places to eat – and perhaps discover a relative in Munich where they seek shelter. Own apps have also been developed for refugees. And mobile used to send money home. In addition, refugees on their smartphone also carry pictures, music and information, where much of their cultural affiliation is stored.


Back to Go into your time. Dag Herbjørnsrud's constant questions about what has marked the decades are answered with the smartphone, containers for world trade, and identity politics. But the future for the # 2020 figure is the answer climate and China. In 1980, Europe and the United States had 50 percent of the world's purchasing power, but today only 16 and 15 percent respectively. China now has 20 percent! Well, Europe is now only 10 percent of the world's population, no longer around 30 as it was a century ago. China is the future and we are not just talking about Huawei, 5G and more control and monitoring.

The 312-page book – that word anarchist actually mentioned 61 times – concludes its richness of interesting issues: With automation, the media, artificial intelligence etc. – and if I may add, possibly a fatigue over consumption and entertainment – the coming decade will be it existential. Or also as Herbjørnsrud adds, where he ends the conversation, on the basis that the insights from the "Thomas the doubler" are becoming more relevant – that 2020 will be a "decade of doubts". To that, Hylland Eriksen responds: "Maybe – I have some doubts."

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