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Hey there friends, it's a pleasure to be with you once again. It seems strange to ponder it, but one day we'll be nostalgic for these times, just as we are for those that have gone before. All media might be dominated by political divergence, but (thankfully) the image that goes down in history will be more than the headlines of the day. So how will this era of history be remembered?

THE AGE OF GUILT: Early this decade, it might have been the fear of missing out that defined the age. The omnipresence of the smartphone and social media had caused pangs of social anxiety that others might be winning at life, without us. Mobile technology had been positioned as an enabler; suddenly we were confronted with a negative consequence of burgeoning technology usage and interconnectedness.

The same technology had made nearly everything available to buy. The relentless stream of fun we could've been having was no match for all the purchase decisions we could be messing up. The globalised economy might look great on a corporate slide, but in reality the bewildering vastness of online shopping leaves us battling choice anxiety. On the principle of good enough is good enough, much of the time we need to know what most people bought just so we can do the same and have done with it.

As The Guardian examines at length why we feel so guilty all the time, it may be this that defines the age. Perhaps our rampant connectivity has exposed a psychological frontier. Essentially, take all the guilt we collectively carry and add technological stimulus. In turn it might be why our choice of pop music turned pensive: as GQ put it we are in the golden age of the sad banger. This can all sound a bit glum, but previous generations have managed to take the mood of the time and build from it—can we do the same? 🤔
👩‍🎨 Women who draw is an open directory created to increase the visibility female professional illustrators, artists and cartoonists.

🎶 Even minimal creative activity boosts wellbeing according to a study of 50,000 people. The research found taking part in activities like painting, pottery or music helps people manage their emotions, build confidence and explore solutions to problems.

👭 The time I went on a lesbian cruise and it blew up my entire life is a staggering piece of writing and a right romantic read.

 💍 Welcome to the era of branded engagements: influencer Marissa Fuchs's 'surprise adventure' was pitched to brands months before it even began. But fans likely won't be bothered by the insincerity. This is exactly why 'influencer' is misleading; maybe 'fake friend' would be more apt.

😍 Love Island’s literary forebears, from Eden to The Tempest: The Economist shows it's both down with the kids and a connoisseur of high culture. I think they call this dumbing up. (Incidentally, three of you who know my guilty pleasures well enough have voiced surprise that I've avoided dedicating a whole 💥BLAST! email to Love Island. You are masochists.)
Guilt for good: With our politics ever-polarising, many people are finding themselves in a widening middle, yet it's a hard time to be liberal. That stereotype of liberal guilt persists, yet the alternative is to lose compassion and empathy for others. To feel guilt as a result of having a conscience is a good thing. Which may be just as well.

If FOMO and purchase paralysis made us feel guilty about what we weren't doing, it wasn't long before we felt guilty about what we had done too. For once, this is something I can summarise in a single image:
Waste PET bottles. Don't see 'em? Click to view in your browser
If the climate crisis is still a little too intangible, finally there's a unifying visual representation of our species' disregard for the planet's wellbeing that we can all get behind. With that, our pangs of social anxiety gave way to pangs of social conscience. But consider it no more than stimulus, as guilt is no substitute for climate action.

Take this long-time friend of mine. Smart, well-educated, caring for her young family, viscerally concerned for the world they'll grow up in, yet feeling disempowered to influence that outcome in any meaningful way. Unfulfilled by environmental protests in central London, she resolved to examine her own everyday decisions and find opportunities for more ethical choices. The enemy here is not plastic, necessarily, but the unconsidered life.

Paradoxically, as with domestic recycling, the end-user is least qualified to make sustainable choices. We can't determine the impact of any product just by buying it, and we can't spend our way out of the situation. The companies that make the things we buy are much better positioned to understand the costs of production and reuse but, of course, companies don't feel guilt the way people do. Perhaps the only guilt-free act of sustainable consumerism is to stop shopping. ♻️
Finally: I mentioned nostalgia at the start, but it ain't what it used to be. Unless you're Pizza Hut, who are reviving their vintage logo. A good excuse to enjoy the great many things that used to be a Pizza Hut and most likely riding a trend for chunky Eighties design (cf. Stranger Things), but perhaps uncertain times call for symbols of familiarity. And pizza. 🍕

Hooly dooly, we've reached the bottom of the email. More for you next week. Do you know someone who likes interesting things? Let them know! They can join in too at momorgan.com/blast. 💌

Have you found something I'd like? Is there something you'd like to see more of? Or anything else; I'd love to hear from you—hit reply! Meanwhile all back-issues are in the archive.

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