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Reform Magazine | August 20, 2017

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Editorial: A new creation

steve_tomkinsYou might have seen a news report before Easter of an underground fire in Holborn, central London – the one where pillars of flame rose up from manholes. It was started by an electrical fault and fed by gas from an eight-inch main that it had damaged, burning for 36 hours before firefighters got the better of it. Some 5,000 people were evacuated from the area and many of them lost their power supply.

The fire has also resulted in Reform Towers having no internet access for the last couple of weeks. Our computers just sit there giving us no emails from contributors, nowhere to download pictures from, no websites to check our facts, and no amusing Facebook posts about cats. Right now we’re wondering how we upload the magazine to the printer tomorrow.

I know – first world problems. But it’s been fascinating to realise how utterly dependent our line of work has become on the internet. Magazines existed for a couple of centuries before the internet, but now, pretty much every little bit of the job involves this 20-year-old technology. As you can see from the fact that this issue of Reform exists, we found ways around our problems – but they generally involved finding alternative ways onto the internet, like smartphones, dongles and going home.

The other thing that struck me is how extraordinary our powers of getting used to things are. USB memory sticks have been seeing a lot of action here. When they first appeared in the new millennium, they were miraculous, allowing us to swap files between different kinds of computer with delicious ease and speed. Since then, email has taken their place, doing the same job a little quicker and a little more easily, and now it’s been such a drag to go back to the appallingly slow and painful old ways of memory sticks.

What a pace we go at down the path from life-changing to frustrating. The new technology, the new house, the new job, the new lover. It’s excitingly, it’s blissfully better, it’s the answer to all our problems… and then it’s just life. The new shoes, the new car, the new government – and the new heavens and the new earth, if our experience on this earth is anything to go by. It’s tempting to believe that all we need for never-ending happiness is an upgrade, but, if we haven’t learned to live with ourselves in this world, it’s hard to see what a new world is going to solve.

A new creation that starts here and now though, that sounds different. It sounds like a long, hard job of becoming who I am meant to be. How that happens I can’t Google right now, so I guess I’ll have to work it out for myself, with fear and trembling.

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This article was published in the May 2015 edition of Reform.

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