Vincent Cocquebert explores last-minute society

Feeling we have ‘Run out of gas’ emotionally … For the journalist and writer Vincent Cocquebert, our laziness comes from what he describes as a “last minute society”. ” Interview.

Do you know this guilty pleasure? Send this text a few minutes before the long-planned cup: In fact, I can’t. » Instead of partying, we get a burger, chain the South Korean series, and sink into the comfort bubble described by Italian anthropologist Stefano Boni. But where does this devitalizing behavior come from? According to Vincent Cocquebert, author of La Civilization du cocoon (Arkhê), the pandemic and confinement have changed us to a new paradigm, that of the last minute ». Interview that dissects our paradoxes and tensions.

When did you start feeling this last minute society?

Vincent Coquebert : It is a set of signals that make a syndrome. After the confinement, people were increasingly unable to project themselves, even in the medium term: organizing the future became complex and problematic. Forced domiciliation for health reasons has created a rupture in our continuums of life, a kind of destructuring of our time. This made it impossible for us to enter into a process of projection, a process which, however, is necessary to be in action on a day-to-day basis. The 2021 Youth Barometer indicates, for example, that only a quarter of young people are able to plan for the long term: when young people can no longer contemplate their own achievement, it is worrying, and speaks much more about the psychological state. that of a sociological reality. At the same time, event and tourism professionals noticed that people no longer planned anything, that tickets always came out in the last days or hours! Around this time, new food delivery services emerged based on the promise of a 10-minute delivery, such as Gorillas, Flink or Zapp. However, we were supposed to think of the famous “next world,” based on long-term values, both more introspective and reflective, and more collective. However, it is exactly the opposite that has appeared, as if our impulse nature as a frustrated and frustrated desire machine is pushing us to regain that confined time considered “lost”. This translated into the need to continually intensify our existence.

What are the characteristics of this model of society?

VC : The French historian François Hartog spoke of presentism to describe the way in which the contemporary individual invests the present moment, much more than the future or the past (except through nostalgia, which has never so fascinated youth). For his part, the German philosopher Harmunt Rosa evoked the acceleration of time that affects our modern societies and affects all aspects of our lives. All this is still very topical, but it seems to me that the last minute society is hiding something a little different … All our behavior, from our consumption to our way of approaching politics through the our way of thinking our common destiny. , you think at the last minute. We are no longer in presentism, because the present itself becomes an emergency in which we must invest and we do not even know how. Then we find ourselves unable to make decisions and act: finding an appointment for lunch with a friend becomes complicated. At the same time, one feels a growing comfort in canceling at the last minute as the mental burden of planning becomes more and more painful. Because we like to be discharged in a childish way, canceling at the last minute gives us a kind of dopamine discharge, which relieves us and makes us feel good, while giving us the impression of regaining control. of our time. Paradoxically, the phenomenon rather illustrates our inability to control our time. At the political level, we also apply this last-minute principle: when a political decision does not have a noticeable rapid effect, it generates disappointment and misunderstanding. This creates a kind of disorientation because we no longer understand the multiplicity of time: short, medium and above all long. In fact, politics and ecology, which must be long-term, seem disenchanted to us – as if they were almost science fiction – then they seem to have no control over reality. This is mainly expressed by the relatively high rate of people who a few days – even a few hours – before going to the polls still did not know who to vote for, as if they did not know what emotional state they would be in. on D. Day, a state that would make them vote for a Protestant or consensual party.

The term “last minute society” gives the impression that we are evolving in a perpetual effervescence, and this while we feel more and more soft and devitalized … Why this paradox?

VC : In a somewhat counterintuitive way, the notion of the last minute doesn’t really come under acceleration … I see fever or hysteria. It has to do with our need to furnish and fill our day to day with a kind of flow to fill this existential void that increasingly traps us. So there is also a vague feeling of depression. It’s a kind of flight a little fantastic, in fact … Last minute society is a kind of childish reaction that consists of doing everything very fast to deny reality. The paradox is that at the same time we would like to be gathered in a fetal position, in a womb where everything comes to us by capillarity …

How does the group suffer from this environment?

VC : I have the impression that we are in a period of radicalization … The international context weighs on this sense of continuity of chaos that hardly helps to reconnect with the idea of ​​collective project. Also of concern is a ministerial report on attendance at cultural venues since the border: only 36% of people have returned to a concert, 60% in the restaurant. In the end, we nurtured ourselves enormously in this fantasy of terraces without realizing that no, it does not affect everyone, especially for reasons of purchasing power. As Raphaël Lorca has analyzed, Marine Le Pen’s presidential campaign has also been able to take advantage of this tendency to portray oneself and at home: when she is staged with cats and talks about protection, she almost navigates self-care. same and a little. padded imagery … On the contrary, Emmanuel Macron told us about retirement at age 65 and the volunteering needed to receive state aid … It is part of a logic of “challenge” and leaving the comfort zone which does not seem to reflect the values ​​of the time, especially that of this sequence where the French feel weakened, rightly or wrongly.

In The world, you write: “Procrastination is becoming a mass syndrome that will take advantage of e-commerce. What is the place of capitalism in this paradigm?

VC : Compared to the 60s, we benefit from more free time, which we have endowed with a set of stimuli and small processes that give us the impression of being overloaded, of not having more time to exist. In fact, we ourselves feed a machine that puts us in constant tension, tension produced by the performance of scattered tasks (example: answering 30 emails a day, receiving notifications, etc.). It produces such an unstructured feeling of time that we feel it slipping away from us. Loaded with aggravated stimuli by the increasing use of digital technology “, our brain can no longer easily manage emotions in the short term, it will permanently use the avoidance strategy, which makes us cancel our evenings in last minute. In fact, the procrastination that has only intensified with us for the past 15 years is becoming a commercial lever: brands are taking the vein, whether in the field of travel, removals or car rental. , give us the impression of defining the contours of time, of being the master of clocks. Neurotic Discomfort Syndrome becomes a selling point, an argument in which capitalism presents itself as a remedy for a disease of which it is, however, the creator. In the background of our lives, this idea always floats, that of the slogan of the French fast-delivery startup Cajoo: “I’m the one asking”, which transforms us into tyrannical consumers, although deep down we know we don’t “commanding” anything, all of which is under the production of symbolic discourse and fantasies. Trapped in a productivist system that continues to fuel this idea of ​​existential consumerism, our capitalist condition is finally quickly hitting us again for the rise. of the price of raw materials and the scarcity – like those of electronic chips – that make obsolete advertising promises and end up stopping the great consumer flows that are in any case unsustainable. not only does it involve a close delegation of semi-domestication to other workers, but it also makes no sense to receive fresh fruit in 10 minutes.The real question is: how can you still to be able to grow tomorrow?

Let me check my schedule …

In general, we party less, love less, and go less to the theater. So what do we do with all the time that is supposed to save us last minute savings? Do we work harder and watch more Netflix?

VC : We have never consumed so many cultural products (books, movies, etc.), we want to immerse ourselves in a culture of binge eating a little dizzy. “Distract Yourself to Death,” as American media theorist Neil Postman put it in the 1920sth century. This allows us to make to-do lists, like so many cultural bandages. This is even more true with platforms like Netflix that allow us to immerse ourselves in non-existent retro universes and borrow from the codes of the 80’s or 90’s, such as Strange things On Riverdale. This creates a bit of a dreamy bubble that allows a relationship with the world lived without real intermediation: you no longer have to go to the movies with people we do not know. This type of semi-hibernation tends to produce depression, to move away from otherness, and even to make us consider reality as threatening. It is a rather depressing cocktail for a society …

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