Many commentators tell us that, in today’s world, everyday life has become selfish and atomised – that individuals live only to consume. But are they wrong?
In Me, Me, Me, Jon Lawrence re-tells the story of England since the Second World War through the eyes of ordinary people – including his own parents – to argue that, in fact, friendship, family, and place all remain central to our daily lives, and while community has changed, it is far from dead.
He shows how, in the years after the Second World War, people came increasingly to question custom and tradition as the pressure to conform to societal standards became intolerable. And as soon as they could, millions escaped the closed, face-to-face communities of Victorian Britain, where everyone knew your business. But this was not a rejection of community per se, but an attempt to find another, new way of living which was better suited to the modern world.
Community has become personal and voluntary, based on genuine affection rather than proximity or need. We have never been better connected or able to sustain the relationships that matter to us. Me, Me, Me? makes that case that it’s time we valued and nurtured these new groups, rather than lamenting the loss of more ‘real’ forms of community – it is all too easy to hold on to a nostalgic view of the past.