I Have Seen The Future. And It’s Dull.







I see no reason why I need to update the above, seven years later.

The gap between what is and what was speculated about, predicted, hoped for is big and getting bigger. I have to think it’s the most profound phenomenon of my lifetime, this blindsiding of the future. Science fiction, or at least the science fiction that I read, didn’t come close.

Didn’t really foresee the internet. Completely missed social media. And looking in the wrong direction when smart phones slipped into our pockets.

All of this is pretty cool. None of it feels that way, and that’s the biggest difference I can see between what we imagined and what we got.

I read this old post today, Facebook to the rescue of aging brains, and tried to construct a timeline of my life and technology. Not using technology. Just the aging brain.

By the time I turned 20, we were still sort of lurching. We had color television. We had push-button phones. We had microwave ovens. Cassette tapes arrived. Cable TV was starting to creep into the conversation. Videotape recorders had been around awhile but were bulky and pricey (around $1200, nearly 5 grand in 2017 dollars), and there was nothing to rent; they were primitive time-shifting devices.

This is just what I was aware of, as far as I recall. Things were happening. Electronics were getting smaller, faster, and ultimately cheaper.

But at 20 years old, I wasn’t buying electronics. I was in and out of college, and nothing was necessary. It was essentially an analog world and I was an analog guy, no surprise. We all pretty much were.

Ten years later, we had personal computers. Twenty and we had internet. Thirty and the iPhone was in town, but by then everything had changed. Those cute gateways to the future, Prodigy and Compuserve and AOL, were toys, curiosities for early adopters or aggressive day traders; by the time the 21st century arrived, so had broadband and we were off the races.

And despite all of this, the radical transformation of every aspect of our lives? Not that exciting.

That slice of pulled-pork pizza my son gave me last night? That I can get excited about. Never saw it coming, either.

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