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What caused Britain’s national nervous breakdown? | Tim Lott

Between 2000 and the 2008 financial crash, tech’s brave new world unleashed changes that were meant to make us happier

When did our country lose grip of its senses? Some will argue that we never had any in the first place, but others find a sharp contrast between the edgy, neurotic, angry, irrational country we find ourselves living in now and a Britain that was, not that long ago, vaguely commonsensical and, at base level, fundamentally civilised.

Researching my new novel, which focuses on the period between millennium eve and the financial crash of 2008, I was left in very little doubt about when it all started. Although I touch on trends in economics, immigration, property (my protagonist is an estate agent) and much besides, many of the forces I discovered were technological – but found their expression psychologically. In short, I believe this is when Britain embarked on its journey towards a full-blown nervous breakdown.

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