V.U.C.A vs B.A.N.I.

A Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear & Incomprehensible World

updating the mood
Are you VUCA or BANI?

I'm interested in more postings about a 'new' acronym BANI (it was coined in 2016) to describe the world we live in.

We no longer live in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world; we live in a Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, and Incomprehensible world.

I used to work with the British Foreign Office as a scenario planner, and our currency and cache was acronyms like these. My bullshit detector is therefore high.

BANI resonates because VUCA has been around a long time and become a bit of a trope AND it's an improvement because it does not just describe our external world, but our internal state. It has emotional resonance.

We * do * feel more brittle and anxious. Most days we emerge from a day glued to our screens and the only meaningful response is 'fucking hell'. It's hard to know what's true or not, and crises seem to come from nowhere. e.g., The Pandemic, Russian Invasion of Ukraine, FTX Bankruptcy.

This is a product of the Meta Crisis, i.e., the crisis in our capacity to collectively make sense of and respond to crises. For a primer, I would recommend Daniel Schmachtenberger and Jonathan Rowson's writings and videos on this topic.

Acronyms are best when they don't just mirror our experience ('THIS!') but they empower us to practically adapt. I've always found VUCA a bit disappointing. 'Yep, the world is definitely more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, YAY!'

The invocation with BANI is that we can invest in our psychological capacities to be less brittle and anxious, and there's a systemic corollary in investing in our institutions and democratic processes.

We can become more discerning, upgrade the media we consume and the networks we make sense of the world in; AND on a systems level, regulate our social media platforms to improve the information landscape and make a concerted effort to depolarise politics.

These activities sit outside our 9-5 jobs and so at its best, BANI is an invitation into active citizenship, where we take responsibility to become the answer to the problems of our time. I would follow Jon Alexander's work on citizenship and Ella Saltmarshe's work on being a good ancestor as an inspirational starting point.

It's an anxious, and exciting time to be alive. One we can shape.

Words by Ronan Harrington