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The woman – whose name was Bev – said, “Craig, the hardest things in the world are being unique and having your life be a story. In the old days, it was much easier, but our modern fame-driven culture, with its real-time 24-7 marinade of electronic information, demands a lot from modern citizens, and poses great obstacles to narrative. Truly modern citizens are both charismatic AND can only respond to other people with charisma. To survive, people need to become self-branding charisma robots. Yet, ironically, society mocks and punishes people who aspire to that state. I really wouldn’t be surprised if your friends were making fun of you behind your back Craig.”

“Really?”

“Really. So, in a nutshell, given the current media composition of the world, you’re pretty much doomed to being uninteresting and storyless.”

“But I can blog my life! I could turn it into a story that way!”

“Blogs? Sorry, but all those blogs and vlogs or whatever’s out there – they just make being unique harder. The more truths you spill out, the more generic you become.”

A lot going on in this extended passage, quoted from Generation A by Douglas Coupland.

Less about the meaning of life, and more about life having real meaning in the digital age.

The Guardian jacket review says, “We should really pay attention to Coupland. His eye is so firmly on the ball he’s virtually clairvoyant.”

In fact I can’t quite believe it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it. I saw him do a reading at the Edinburgh Book Festival but only bought a copy during a recent book binge on a chance visit to Waterstone’s on the way to the station.

He is one of my top 3 authors of all time and I’ve read everything he’s written, apart from his first book – Generation X.

Generation X came out around the time I was starting my advertising career and the title quickly became adopted by every planner on the planet as a creative brief target audience shorthand cliché.

It’s that sense of cliché that’s stopped me from ever picking up a copy.

One day.

One Response to “Generation A by Douglas Coupland”

  1. Coupland has some fantastic ideas and is incredibly engaged with how we live now and how we will live tomorrow. His meditations on storytelling in the digital age are interesting too. However, for all the good ideas Generation A just didn’t quite hang together for me.

    My review: Generation A by Douglas Coupland

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