Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives, and remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future.
Criswell, Plan 9 From Outer Space
I posted something the other day about a couple of old science-fiction movies set in the year 2013. Escape from L.A. (1996) was about a guy escaping from a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, I think, while The Postman (1997) was about a lone letter carrier who delivers hope in a post-apocolyptic world, one letter at a time, or something. (I never saw either of them.)
That got me thinking:
We really are living in a world that would have seemed like science-fiction a generation ago.
Smartphones. Skype. GPS. Kindles. If someone had told you 20 years ago that you could stream movies onto a 50-inch, crystal-clear TV screen hanging flat against the wall for less than the cost of a movie ticket, you wouldn’t have believed them.
Heck, even the idea of a blog would have seemed crazy a generation ago. Seriously, you mean anyone can write anything they want, and people all over the planet can read it instantly and talk to you about it?
What’s funny is that none of this feels like “the future.”
It turns out that the future sneaks up on you and is a lot less snazzy than I thought it would be when I was a kid.
We don’t all wear matching jumpsuits or have hover cars or work on the moon. We can buy turtle-sized robots to vacuum the carpet, but we still can’t buy jet packs, and I don’t know anyone who owns a laser gun, although a few have laser pointers, for some reason.
We can put a man on the moon, but we don’t want to. We can pull in 500 cable channels, but mostly it’s just “reality” shows about silly people with daddy issues and persistent low-grade fevers (I’m guessing) doing stupid things so people will look at them.
We haven’t found a cure for cancer, but you can’t watch a ballgame without seeing a dozen adds for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.
I don’t know. I guess I’m OK with the future not being what it was supposed to be. Things could be better, but they could be a lot worse, and, besides, if you think it through, hover cars would probably just scoot around as freely as a puck on an air-hockey table. I think we’re probably better off without them.