Are you tired of the isolation? Aren’t we all! But let’s face it. Before we can get our regular lives back, there still is a while to go. It will probably be years before things start to feel “normal” again.
First, we need to have an effective vaccine within easy reach of everybody, as easy as a flu shot.
So let’s all just sit back and wait for it to happen. Not! That’s the opposite of what I’m all about. I’m ready to lead the charge for our comeback, starting here and now.
Without wasting another moment, we need to start planning to bring back the glamour and the excitement that marked one of America’s most extraordinary eras. Are you ready to rock the new Roaring ‘20s?!
If you wonder why the years 1920-1929 are romanticized in our cultural history as one big playful, perpetual party, it’s because people felt they were overdue for enjoying life to the fullest, having just been dealt a bad hand of too much death and disease. Even though that was then, and this is now, we can relate to that.
Using that storied period as a history lesson, I’m convinced that we have what it takes to learn from the good things about the 1920s (and learn from that really bad thing too, by avoiding how it all ended).
Think of the ecstatic, full-throated roar of a stadium full of sports fans whose team has just won a world championship, then magnify it millions of times to equal the roar of an entire country, cheering and celebrating its own recovery. That’s how huge a roar the 1920s made. As the pandemic is brought under control, it’s time for all of us in the U.S. to roar again.
PLENTY TO ROAR ABOUT
A century ago, America had just emerged the victor in World War I, at a cost of 100,000 deaths. That’s a terrible toll, but it’s one-tenth the size of the unthinkable body count that piled up during 18 months of a deadly pandemic that occurred in 1918-19.
Then what was there to roar about? Plenty!
After fighting our way back from prolonged battles that gravely threatened the country’s well-being, Americans were ready to let loose. And let loose we did!
People kicked up their heels on the dance floor doing the Charleston. New trends in fashion became all the rage. The optimism from coast-to-coast was obvious in people’s fancy clothes and sizable wardrobes.
OUT ON THE TOWN
For the new Roaring ‘20s, I see a similar surge in the urge to dress up and go out on the town. As office workers return, so will after-hours meet-ups and the club scene.
Americans in the rollicking Roaring ‘20s were drinking it all in, literally. The federal prohibition of alcohol created the irresistible mystique of speakeasies and backfired on the government—making the “forbidden fruit” of liquor more desirable and more intoxicating than it had been when legal.
It was a great awakening, sparked by a titillating new sensation of liberation. Young women who pushed back against the outmoded, unwritten rules of society were called “flappers.”
Their open defiance was punctuated by happily chopping off their long and by smoking cigarettes, another poke in the eye of the uptight establishment. The flappers’ statement was loud and clear: “I can live my life as I like, with or without your approval.”
As spiritual descendants of those Roaring ‘20s, we know something ourselves about dealing with national trauma. Now we owe it to ourselves to bounce back from adversity with the same optimism and energy that electrified the 1920s.
Alcohol’s been legal for 90 years now, but there’s bound to be a new buzz born for the new Roaring ‘20s that lights up social gatherings.
The first buzz we crave is an effective vaccine available to the general public. Once that gets us going again, our job is to pick ourselves up, wipe off the rust, and get back to work rebuilding our economy, our culture, and our social life. In the process, we’ll be able to rip a page from history to create an updated version of those heady days — the new Roaring ‘20s!
There are plenty of parallels that we can look to for our inspiration.
Take glamorous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was a fashion icon as well as a literary one. Our answer to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby could be a Lady — The Great Lady Gaga!
She’s a new Roaring ‘20s kind of personality. Avant-garde, unpredictable, independent, social justice warrior, larger-than-life. Lady Gaga’s message is that it’s OK to look and act as you please. Take pride in expressing your unique self — and have fun doing it.
Jazz was all the craze of the 1920s. Who knows, some of the cool sounds and dances of the time could make a comeback for the new Roaring ‘20s. I would welcome that.
I’m also eager to see new fashion trends. They are way overdue to wake up from their sleep with eye-catching styles that will make heads turn. What will the next craze be?
There also should be a burst of cutting-edge creativity and innovation in entertainment and technology, as there was in the 1920s, when record players and radios were popularized, sound was added to what had been only silent movies, and the mass production of cars revolutionized American industry and commerce.
As often occurs in the aftermath of troubled times, there will be new ideas, businesses and consumer trends that are outgrowths of the new Roaring ‘20s.
REBOUND + REBUILD
I bet a lot of you reading this have an entrepreneurial idea for starting a new company right now. At least, I hope so. We need that, and you’re the ones who will help fuel the rebound, and rebuilding, of America.
We already have a head start in creating futuristic entertainment for the new Roaring ‘20s, with social media making everybody an instant filmmaker and immersive VR (virtual reality) our version of talkies, as the next quantum leap in escaping reality through a multi-sensory experience. You can be sure there’s more neat stuff to come, including retro trends. Did you know that vinyl records have been outselling compact discs? Crazy, but true. Everything old is new again!
What’s too easily forgotten about the first Roaring ‘20s is the anti-social sentiment that poisoned the air. During the 1920s, Native Americans were being marginalized and persecuted, while immigrants of all ethnicities were stereotyped and demonized.
Some things don’t change, even after 100 years. We’re seeing it again today in the stormy state of race relations, with social unrest reminding us how far we still have to go in denouncing intolerance and reversing ignorance.
We can do better. America is a rapidly evolving, multi-cultural and multi-colored “melting pot.” Before racial justice can become a natural reflex in society, we need to forge race relations that are mutually respectful, tolerant, and marked by open minds who listen and empathize.
In my business life, I’ve always been known as a disruptor, and I am proud of it. Why? Because disruption and rejection of an outdated and unproductive status quo—kept in place for the wrong reasons—is called progress.
Much of the “roar” of the 20th Century’s ‘20s came from the younger generations of the time. Their hormones fueled the nation’s pent-up energy, and their modern outlook encouraged freedom of expression and creativity.
That’s the role Millennials are poised to play for the new Roaring ‘20s. As someone who mentors them, and advocates mutual mentoring between generations, I’m rarin’ to roar along with them.
Millennials appreciate material possessions and make the most of the freedom to pick up and travel on a moment’s notice but we all could learn something from the non-material part of the values preached and practiced by the younger generations. We all could learn from their integrity, compassion, and authenticity.
They’re the pace-setters who need to take firm control of the reins—of commerce, culture, ecology, and government—leading us in the direction of true north, onward and upward!
With the newer generations acting as our cultural “DJs” for the new Roaring ‘20s, people of all generations can join in, stay youthful, and contribute to a hard-earned national recovery all the way to 2030 and beyond.
For the new Roaring ‘20s, let’s “MAKE AMERICA YOUNG AGAIN”!
Originally published on Forbes.