Not all doom and gloom

Fast Forward pokes fun at constant stream of bleak dire news

It seems like everywhere you go these days it’s all doom and gloom all the time. People are losing their savings. They are losing their jobs. It’s barely possible to hear a newscast without some variant of the phrase “troubled economic times.” We get it already: we’re toast. We’re all going to die. The end is near.

But for 24-year-old Alex Flint life isn’t doomy or gloomy at all. Flint is a manager at a Calgary electronics store and his life really hasn’t changed much since the recession hit. “No one that I personally know has been affected by it” he says. “It’s this mythical recession that I keep hearing about.” If anything Flint’s situation has improved in recent months. “I’m making more money now than I’ve ever made and in the last six months [I’ve] bought a MacBook and an HD-TV. What recession?”

Flint’s secret is simple: he didn’t have a ton of stuff when the market crashed. And if you don’t have loads of stuff there’s not a lot you can lose. “I don’t own anything really” he says. “I lease my car. I rent my apartment. I don’t really have any investments or anything like that. Short of my company going out of business and losing my job I don’t think it’s going to hit me…. None of my friends have really lost a lot.”

Many people particularly students and recent grads are in similar situations. They’ve got nothing to lose… and everything to gain. But these stories tend to get overlooked in favour of news about layoffs plummeting stock markets unemployment and other troubles. So this week Fast Forward is poking fun at the doom-and-gloom cesspool we’ve been swimming in for months. We’re not denying the seriousness of the situation — a lot of people are being seriously hurt by economic woes — but we’re injecting a bit of dark humour into the topic.

Truth is for many people (myself included) boomtime in these parts got tiresome. You’d constantly hear about Calgary’s endless growth the swelling salaries and house prices the extravagant Christmas parties the ridiculous opulence. Anyone with even the most superficial understanding of history knew it couldn’t last long. And now instead of constantly hearing about how awesome everything is we hear about how dark and bleak it all is. The pendulum has swung the other way with a bunch of us sitting in the middle wondering why the narrative Calgarians use to describe our situation always jerks so violently between wild prosperity and inevitable disaster.

You don’t hear much about it but these days people who don’t own a lot of stuff have more dignity. In boomtime we were frowned on for our situation — “You’re still renting? Why don’t you buy before prices go higher?” — but now with house values going down we don’t look quite so bad. In fact we look pretty good for holding off. As well we don’t have to grovel embarrassingly to try and convince potential landlords that we’d be perfect tenants so wonderfully quiet respectful and compliant much more so than the crush of people behind us who also want to rent the space. “Please take us in!” we’d plead pathetically. Now landlords are trying to convince potential renters of their worthiness as property managers.

In other words we now rule the world with our lack of investments our monthly rental cheques and our used cars. We keep hearing that “the world’s going to hell” but to us it doesn’t quite look that way. I almost feel guilty saying it but for many people the future doesn’t look so bleak but in fact bright. The condo that cost $350000 two years ago is now under $300000. It makes you wonder: are things really as bad as everyone’s saying?

But then again there is always plenty of bad stuff going on. Press your tongue against your cheek and read on for our take.