What the message enclosed in an envelope of figurines tells us

To many, what is happening with the boom of the World Cup figurines. With reason, and common sense, it could be said that, with all the problems that Argentina has today, “it’s crazy.” That today people are almost compulsively aware of a package of figurines, something that can be empirically verified in everyday conversations and that the memes that circulate on Twitter and TikTok videos reflect with humor and irony, it emerges as nonsense and a minor fact. It is?

Those of us who closely follow and analyze collective behavior and social humor are attentive to this type of movement, apparently trivial, because they usually bring encrypted some message that transcends them and that goes beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.

In the era of digital transformation, Argentines have clung to an old analogical ritualeither. Figurines are pieces of paper with images that are pasted into an album that is also a physical item. Its characteristics are similar to those of the old “books” where the printed photos were stored and that for the new generations look prehistoric.

Today that everything is in the cloud, suddenly, there is an unusual fanaticism for having a ground cable again.

This week The Economist publishes an analysis on the combined value of the shares of some companies that had a boom in the face of the shock of 2020/2021: Zoom, Netflix, Platoon (sells training materials, where the stationary bike and the treadmill stand out, associated with a tech platform that allows online classes, and thus set up the gym at home), Shopify (platform to create an online store and carry out electronic commerce ) and Robinhood (free platform to invest in stocks and exchange cryptocurrencies).

The combined market value of the five companies (taking the same weighted weight for each one) multiplied by 4 from the beginning of 2020 to mid-2021. Since then, when the world population left their homes en masse to furiously rediscover the vital, they have not stopped falling. Today they are worth the same as before everything happened, almost as if nothing had happened.

Contemporary society could hardly, as expected, decide to “return to normality”, or at least to the closest thing it could find. Simply because the life I had was a thousand times more interesting than the 100% digital one.

Naturally, we are not the same because what actually happened happened and its consequences are inside the psyche, the sensitivity and the soul of each one who went through this unprecedented instance of simultaneous and interconnected global fragility.

That’s why The Economist he titled his note “Zoom fatigue”, or Zoom fatigue. After sheltering for a year and a half in the digital cave, now we want, we crave, we crave to touch, feel, experience, vibrate physically.

The human mental and sensory system is seeking to recalibrate the “physical-digital” mix according to a return to normality. That return to life that we had until 2019 is obviously not linear. Consider the acceleration of the digitalization that was already launched and that advanced five years in one during the long and dark tunnel of the viral habitat, and that is now configured, “at the exit”, as an emotional habitat, dominated by drives before for the reasons, according to the definition of Sil Almadafounder of Almatrends Lab.

We will have to see at what point the entire web of human interrelationships manages to stabilize in the medium term when what happened manages to metabolize fully and definitively, undoubtedly leaving indelible scars or keloids, but giving way to a new instance where the trauma is part of the past. . Meanwhile, we are living through this time of overflowing emotions, and in some cases extreme, even unmanageable.

Then, The thing about the figurines is just a vocation to rediscover ourselves with the tangible, the storable in “a box” (or an album)what is exchanged under the old eighties slogan of “I have/I don’t have”, which managed to connect with a high emotional tension cable combining nostalgia with a playful need and encounter between children and adultspowered by a pain not yet fully processed.

At one point yes. We can see it from that angle. The manifestation of a “digital fatigue” that he found in the Soccer World Cup, one of the few issues of a collective order that excites Argentine society today, the perfect excuse to get away for a while from the screens that saved us and at the same time exhausted us.

But I think there is something else. In accordance with what our systematic qualitative studies have been showing about the feelings of citizens and consumers, The boom in figurines could also be telling us about that vocation of society to consciously alienate itself, in the sociological sense of the term, that is, the intention to evade reality, to escape from it towards a parallel world, less ominous and oppressivethat we had already detected in other phenomena, such as the boom in recitals, domestic tourism, restaurants, bars, soccer fields and theaters, among others.

What the Argentines craved at the start was tranquility and predictability. They found the opposite. Assuming that this would not only not change in the short term, but would probably get worse, they decided to directly “leave”.

The figurine boom is a romantic way to do it. A kind of “retrotopia”, that inverse utopia where to visualize the imaginary of the future you have to turn your head and look back. A concept well described by the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Baumann in his posthumous book published in 2017, which precisely had that peculiar idea for its title.

It happens that, no matter how much you try to avoid it, reality is there and continues its course. Stubborn, she insists on being present and there is no way to avoid or completely ignore her. She always finds the hole through which to filter.

The unfortunate events of the past weekthat strained political and social fragilities to the limit, added to an economy that sooner rather than later will have to take charge of its visible, exposed and mostly known inconsistencies and risks, they only predict a strengthening of this dual behavior of society.

Citizens, while waiting for the storm, look out of the corner of their eyes at the dynamics of the clouds and sunbathe until the last minute. They already know that they have to have everything ready for when it starts to rain. But they wonder: what would be the point of hurrying? There will be time to worry when it becomes unavoidable.

For now, better think about getting “the hard one” and filling the album. The prize is much more important than “the ball”. It is a journey back in time to a better country and life.

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