14 Big Trends Affecting Americans this Year

THE July/August issue of The Atlantic Magazine features a fascinating list of the The 14 Biggest Ideas of the Year: “A guide to the intellectual trends that, for better or worse, are shaping America right now.” The magazine totes the rise of the middle class in emerging ecinomies as the #1 idea which will affect Americans in the coming years. Those of us who’ve been watching the space are not surprised, but the effects are still being felt.

The 14 Biggest Ideas of the Year

  1. The Rise of the Middle Class—Just Not Ours: “The emerging markets thus no longer represent just a “supply shock”; they are creating a “demand shock” too”
  2. Nothing Stays Secret : “…death of secrecy”
  3. The Rich Are Different From You and Me: “…vaulting ahead of everyone else”
  4. Elections Work: “…and Matter”
  5. The Arab Spring Is a Jobs Crisis
  6. Wall Street: Same as It Ever Was: problems persist and are worse
  7. Public Employee, Public Enemy: “…public employees are fat cats
  8. Grandma’s in the Basement (and Junior’s in the Attic)
  9. The Next War Will Be Digitized
  10. Bonds Are Dead (Long Live Bonds)
  11. Gay Is the New Normal
  12. The Players Own the Game: athletes control the sports business
  13. The Maniac Will Be Televised: “…agitation pays when it comes to maintaining a high profile”
  14. The Green Revolution Is Neither

The New York Times responds that these “ideas” are really more observations, going on to say:

It may strike you that none of these ideas seem particularly breathtaking. In fact, none of them are ideas. They are more on the order of observations. But one can’t really fault The Atlantic for mistaking commonplaces for intellectual vision. Ideas just aren’t what they used to be. Once upon a time, they could ignite fires of debate, stimulate other thoughts, incite revolutions and fundamentally change the ways we look at and think about the world

They could penetrate the general culture and make celebrities out of thinkers — notably Albert Einstein, but also Reinhold Niebuhr, Daniel Bell, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould, to name a few. The ideas themselves could even be made famous: for instance, for “the end of ideology,” “the medium is the message,” “the feminine mystique,” “the Big Bang theory,” “the end of history.” A big idea could capture the cover of Time — “Is God Dead?” — and intellectuals like Norman Mailer, William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal would even occasionally be invited to the couches of late-night talk shows. How long ago that was.

What do you think?