April 10, 2020
COOL TODAY, NOT TOMORROW
Times change. The attitudes and technology of the recent past may look positively antiquated today, but time marches without mercy to the attitudes and fashions of our day. What is cutting edge today will seem positively silly to future generations. Here are my 10 predictions for the future:
ONE: People will become more tolerant of other people’s political difference. I know this is a radical idea, but maybe folks will begin to realize that we all have more in common than that which separates us into warring camps. This is already more apparent in the real world than on Facebook or in the Twittersphere, where people gather to share their outrage and insult anybody who dares disagree. It’s both boring and depressing. I could be wrong, but what’s the alternative? Civil War? It happened once before with tragic results for both sides. Let’s try to avoid it this time around.
TWO: People getting tattoos will become fewer in the years to come. Fashions come and go. Few people today are wearing their hair as they did in the 70s or wearing the same clothes. That’s because times change and people change with the times. Tattoos may fade and grow fuzzy over the years, but they or the dermabrasion scars to remove them are there forever.
THREE: Buffet restaurants will become No. 1 on the hit list of popular institutions. This one is extremely tough for me, but in a post-epidemic world, everybody dipping into the same French dressing tub and scooping up big globs of Joan’s Broccoli Madness with a common spoon is not going to be as popular as it once was – despite the presence of the much touted sneeze guard.
FOUR: Multiple remote controls for everything will end. It must. Currently we have two remote controls for the television – one from the cable company for changing channels. The other, which was included with the flat screen TV, we use to raise or lower the volume. I have to use the remote that came with the TV if I want to stream movies on Amazon, Netflix, BritBox or other pay channels.
Now I’m sure that I could integrate both TV remotes into one, but it would take hours to figure out and at the end I might not be able to access anything at all. The only good part is that my wife is even more frustrated than I am, so when she wants to change channels or watch something new, she has to rely on me – the man.
It’s the same thing with all my other remotes. One for the light and overhead fan in the living room, one for the bedroom, and if I were more technically sophisticated, I’d get an app on my phone so I could see who was ringing my doorbell, even if I was miles away.
I’m positive that our techie friends will solve this problem – they probably already have – and in the near future it will finally seep down to the folks on the ground. The one drawback, I suspect, is that they will also be able to tell when we turn on the lights, when we are home, and where we’ve gone when we’re not at home.
FIVE: One of the benefits to evolve from the current epidemic will be working electronically from home. There will be fewer reasons for office workers to get in cars and drive many miles in stop-and-go traffic in order to get to work. Fellow office workers will communicate electronically, each from their own home office area. There will be times to personally meet with one another, but these will be infrequent. People who work in retail or in service industries – beauticians, construction workers, plumbers, and restaurant folks – will still drive to work, but the giant traffic jams will ease.
Going to the store to shop for goods is already being impacted by the ease of Amazon, Instacart, and other internet shopping sites that deliver goods to our doorsteps within hours or days. With less commuting and less on-site shopping, there will be fewer reasons for brick-and-mortar stores and other businesses to maintain huge parking lots for their customers and employees and less need to build huge office buildings when most of the employees are working from home.
SIX: Family life will be enhanced or perhaps in some cases curtailed. With commuting to work a lesser factor, people will be able to spend more time at home. Hopefully what they will rediscover is the joy of family time. Or perhaps once folks begin spending more hours with their mates, they may find that whatever magic existed when they joined together has long since disappeared. The current epidemic is already bringing some of those feelings to the forefront.
SEVEN: The 40-hour work week may become less of a standard than it currently is. Freed from the wage-slave structure of going to the job every day, some folks will join the so-called “gig-economy” and work more or fewer hours as they desire at more than one job. When I was a boy, people usually worked a five-and-a-half day week. They would get off at noon on Saturday and have a half-day to go shopping and spend time with the family. Sundays were for church, and most stores would close down. The standard work week has ever since been stuck at 40 hours with stores staying open seven days a week. With more automation and fewer demands for employees, perhaps it will be time to restructure work to be a lesser part of everyday life.
EIGHT: Education is already changing, and it will soon change forever. Student loans – a government-backed scam by universities and banks – has left a generation of students in a state of perpetual bonded servitude after they graduate with a degree in fashion design or women’s studies and end up working at jobs next to debt-free high-school grads. Professors meanwhile are awarded tenure, which ensures them job security even if they turn out to be arrogant miscreants.
With some exceptions, secondary school curriculum – dominated by social activists and union educators – is almost as bad. Text books are written to be politically correct, if historically flawed. The basic skills, such as math, reading, and grammar, have been so diminished that students are getting high school degrees even though they may be functionally illiterate.
With education moving online, there is little reason for lecture halls full of bored students listening to bored professors drone on over materials that they have regurgitated scores of times before. If students are interested in the subject, they will be able to take it online from a top professor of their choice.
What’s happening already in the elementary schools is that an increasing number of parents are discovering the benefits of educating their children at home and passing along the values and attitudes that reflect their own. With more kids staying home from school the face of education can be expected to change greatly over the next few years.
NINE: Privacy is already a quirk of the past – neither expected nor respected by coming generations. People post their most intimate thoughts and emotions on the internet to share with the world. Cash transactions are rapidly becoming an artifact of the past. People use credit cards, debit cards, and internet accounts to purchase most of their everyday goods. That means there is an economic record of how they spend their money and what they spend it on residing in the database of large corporations and potentially accessible by the government.
TEN: The freedoms that Americans once took for granted have been under attack for decades. The computerization of information and the political need to control large populations are bound to lead to a further erosion of people’s ability to decide their own paths. There are already politicians choosing to place high taxes on large sodas and cigarette sales in order to engineer social health and attitudes. In China, people are granted “freedom” by the government if they exhibit government-approved attitudes and don’t make trouble. If they are trouble makers, they and their families may have to live with restricted rights. It is unfortunately seen as a model by our own ruling class.
Those are my predictions. I could be wrong. In fact, I hope I am wrong about some of them. So what do you think? Is the future going to be grim or rosy?
Or maybe somewhere in-between.
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