Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Future Is...

The Jetsons 1985-1987
As a child, what did you think the future would be like? What did you think yours would hold? A friend confided in me: 'When I was in 1993 I thought 2012 would be robots, hover crafts and space ships etc.' Didn't we all? I thought. It's for him I write this and explore my own fantasies. I imagined the 21st century would be like 'The Jetsons', one of my favourite animations. We'd all be flying around in aerocars, a flying saucer with a transparent bubble top. We'd live in Skypads where robots would serve our every need and be considered members of the family. I believed in what was being shown to me. This was our future. But that was before teenage hormones hit and life became about 'Take That'.

Were these thoughts of the future far-fetched? As adults they now seem laughable, but as children anything was possible. Am I disappointed that this future, as I saw it, hasn't taken shape? No, because I outgrew it, but yet I'm perplexed by this future I find myself in. Never once did I think I'd be living in a techno-revolution. Where virtual is taking over reality. Where some prefer to experience life as an avatar; removing all physical trace of themselves or observing others through a camera. A disconnection from the natural world, choosing instead to connect to the worldwide web. All of us have in some form submitted to it. Emailing, googling, e-commercing, blogging and social networking. The internet has transformed our lives, but are they better because of it? Would any of us have guessed the magnitude of its web? I doubt it.

The internet may have changed the way we interact, but I don't think it's changed me. I'm not compelled to use it to live my life virtually. If I turned to you now and said: “The future is...” And paused for you to fill the space, how would you complete it? I would jest and say 'the future's bright, the future's orange.' That well-known mobile network slogan makes me want to say it. My friend thinks 4000 would be wild, but we won't be here to see it. What do I visualise for myself? I see the one thing I wanted as a child and knew I would one day get: a mobility scooter! In burgundy. I thought I could hop into any left unattended outside shops. An adult hand would pull me away as I tugged at their sleeve saying, “Why can't I? Please...” My future is: my own shining scooter, which by then will hopefully have a bit more momentum!