This isn’t the world they promised us. Oh, that is true in so many ways, and writing from his home in Los Angeles, baby boomer blogger Richard Basis explains why.
When you’ve lived as long as I have, you see a lot of technological breakthroughs and scientific advancements. And frankly, I’m a little disappointed.
All the books and movies that predicted what the future would bring have fallen way short of this baby boomer’s expectations. This is 2018 and we still haven’t reached the dystopian society that was envisioned in the book 1984, which was published in 1949 (although we are getting closer every day.)
James Bond was flying around in a jet pack in 1965 and the closest thing we have to that today are water jet packs, which are fine as a vacation activity but not a very practical mode of transportation.
Back To The Future, released in 1985, was set in 2015 but the only innovation that movie got right are auto-lacing sneakers (and no one could have predicted they would cost over $1,000.) Even our version of Back To The Future’s hover boards can’t get off the ground and periodically burst into flames.
Where are all the flying cars and replicant robots and shiny silver jumpsuits that we were supposed to have by now? This is not the future that was promised to me on my Lost In Space lunchbox. (BTW, the original Lost In Space was set in 1997.)
Much of the “progress” we got instead has backfired on us. I think the worst inventions in my lifetime have been the 24-hour news channels and reality television (if you can even tell the difference). As much as I love watching TV, I truly believe that these have lowered our standards and subverted our culture. I expect history will look back on them as the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it.
The Kardashians, and all the fake reality shows that followed in their wake, have raised a generation to aspire to style and easy fame over substance and hard work. Channels like FOX and MSNBC no longer report the news objectively but prefer to present their versions of the facts to maintain ratings and influence popular opinion. Social media has thrown gasoline on these cultural dumpster fires and now they are raging out of control. Where are old favs like The Brady Bunch and Walter Cronkite when you need them?
On the upside, medical science has had many great achievements dealing with diseases and extending lifespans, so that now our bodies can be kept alive long after we’ve lost the will to live. The microwave oven revolutionized cooking and probably contributed to the obesity problem in America.
The VCR, the DVR, and the streaming services have continually expanded our entertainment options. I now have hundreds of hours of videotapes that I will never watch because there are no more videotape machines and I already have enough movies and shows digitally saved to last a lifetime. The computer age has, in many ways, surpassed our expectations. The internet has changed the world for better and worse. But that’s the nature of progress. You can’t gain something without giving up something else.
Someone once famously said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Bad grammar aside, I couldn’t agree more. The future is full of hype and hyperbole. It often gives us false hopes and breaks its promises. I think the trick is to lower your expectations and to appreciate the little things.
Maybe Elon Musk can do everything he thinks he can do and the world will be catapulted into a technologically advanced future that will blow our minds. But more likely, we will continue to slowly march forward through a series of minor breakthroughs that will slightly improve our lives. While giving us a lot of frustration along the way.