We have seen a lot of change in the last few years.
It’s throwing us off. We haven’t kept up with it. The pace of change has been exhausting, especially in places in which people were sheltered from a lot of change – or even a lot of difference in opinion and experience and lifestyle – for several generations beforehand.
Not only are there more people in the world. People – and information – travel so widely and so quickly in our time, that we are much more likely to encounter people and points of view that we were never exposed to before.
We long for simpler times, for a past – as we remember it – which didn’t seem so complicated.
That’s what Noah Kahan’s song “New Perspective” is really about.
The acoustic guitar as the primary instrument really suits the lyrics of the song, harkening as it does to the days when you didn’t always need to be plugged in. There’s a longing for certainty.
Nothing’s so sure that I can’t learn to doubt it
There’s also a bit of cynical commentary about what passes for progress.
The intersection got a Target,
And they’re calling it “Downtown”
“New Perspective” seems to be about a relationship that is experiencing some distance, but it’s more about being thrown off by the modern world.
In 1978, a kid going into junior high was in a world that had population of 4.29 billion people. According to “World Population Clock,” there are about 8.1 billion people in the world as of September 13, 2023. In less than a lifetime, the world’s population has nearly doubled, from a lot, to a lot more than a lot. We’re encountering points of view that we never heard before, and rubbing elbows with folks who come from places that we’ve never heard of before.
I watched a documentary from the 1990’s the other day, which suggested that – because of satellite TV – everyone in the world was learning to know about everyone else, and so it was essentially inevitable that the whole world would become politically aware, and ultimately democratic. There was no mention of the internet in that documentary, or about the increasing control that various non-democratic governments and groups have been able to establish over information, or over our willingness to consider it.
We’re not keeping up with all the changes. We feel like we’re in a race with the clock, and more and more of us resent having to do so.
“New Perspective” is about having grown up in a small town and taken a way of life and knowledge for granted, and now feeling like that is all being challenged, and feeling lost. Sure, there’s a relationship with a person at the center of the song, like there is in many songs. The essence of “New Perspective,” though, is a feeling of uncertainty, and a lot of skepticism about whether all that is “new” is necessarily better than what was “old.”