|An actual tramp, Holborn, London, 2012. Product placement by Pret-A-Manger.|
|Gavin Turk, Bum, 1998. Image courtesy Inspector Google.|
Life's sweet irony...how I love you. In the same week I attend the Marketing Strategy Summer School at eminent academic institution London School of Economics, (alumni: pants man JFK and tobacco connoisseur Monica Lewinsky), I receive the possible news that me and my media crew MAY be facing redundancy. Ironic in that my faithful employer, an internationally recognised media organisation with a short name and a long roll call of Liferesque employees contributed a very tidy sum toward my course fees. The lord giveth, it seems and the lord taketh away.
This got me thinking about Technology Creep. Its what we all suffer, whether we like it, acknowledge it or even realise it at all. Its that rush of anxiety you experience on the morning commute when you realise in a hungover stupor you've left your iphone charging at home next to the iron. But you're more panicked about the iphone. How will you tweet in real time that funny joke your hipster colleague told at lunch and pass it off as your own? What if an invite goes out on facebook and you can't be the first to Yes, I will Be Attending it? Technology Creep, sir.
Certain humble colleagues of mine have been discussing this and related phenomenon for years now. How the odious onslaught of technology is changing the world at an impossibly rapid rate. An undeniable advantage on many levels. A different kettle of fish when your employer's entire business strategy is reconfigured internationally in a desperate 3-5 year plan to compete with the internet and emerging markets. Globalisation Creep, sir. Being a highly-skilled-migrant hailing from the New World with an LSF qualification no less, I should be ok in the cold, hard, new dawn of unemployment. But many of my British colleagues lacking the same advantages won't.
Lifestyle Creep is a financial term defined as 'an improvement in the standard of living of people as their discretionary income rises either through an increase in income or a decrease in costs, to the extent that luxury goods turn into necessary goods'. Clearly a phenomenon thats been happening for decades in western economies. Except we're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. The reality of the UK's 'squeezed middle' remains depressed wages, increasing costs, and in London at least, astronomical property prices. Poverty Creep sir. Most of us are getting poorer in real terms and the bandwagon pulled out from the kerb bound for the BRIC countries when we we all busy watching turgid bile like The X Factor.
Which brings me to our gentleman pictured at the top of this post, captured on my lunch break today from the LSF course, in Holborn - a central London area defined by its high concentration of straight world academic institutions of the legal, financial and business ilk. An incredible example of product placement created by some altruistic onlooker placing their Pret-A-Manger Brie & Bacon on Artesan (to give it its proper corporate title) artfully bottom right of the shot? This could be be the perfectly ironic anti-advertisement for the Olympics Lord Coe and Boris Johnson have been beavering away for years to conceal. What price in real terms for local people this vile spectacle (the Olympics, not the bum)? Are Pret-A-Manger one of the primary corporate sponsors? Is this even a genuine bum or a piece of performance art echoing Gavin Turk's life-size wax model 'Bum' exhibited at The South London Gallery in 1998 (pictured above)? Art...or arse? Or a genuine human being, down and out in (Paris and) London...glibly stepped over by busy worker bees distracted by their smart phones rushing back to the office in a vein attempt to avoid imminent redundancy? Reality Creep sir. Now where the f*** did I leave my iphone???