Sunday, June 10th, 2007...
future de ja vu
you ever have that feeling that you’re living in the future? like you’re driving on these strange elevated chutes, and whether or not to have kids is now a choice, and you have no need to think about WHERE food comes from, it just generally appears at the beckoning of a shopping cart.
it’s pretty strange, all this is.
all this that you take for granted because you’ve just never known any different, but every so often something will jolt you out of this haze of taking-for-grantability. it happened to me the other day in the checkout line at bed bath and beyond. there were a couple of people in front of me, so i had time to actually notice what was going on as i waited. standing on the checkout counter, just to the left of the cashier was was a 12-inch flat plasma-screen TV, and it was playing a scene from one of those “relaxing” dvd compilations that were on sale in the impulse-buy section of the store right below the counter. it was a scene of tropical fish swimming around a reef. it was uncanny how much the 2-d fish looked like they could be real life, non-pixel based lifeforms just swimming around inside the frame of this plasma fishtank as cashiers made change, and customers sighed in line.
the thought ocurred to me: this is what the future looks like. or rather… this is what the future was going to look like. it was as if i’d experienced a vision of this moment in the past, before it happened, and was now living through its fulfillment. like…future de ja vu.
i think about that as i watch these crazy videos my friends keep shoving at me:
looking backwards, from the future where every surface has become a computer, and every photo anyone has ever taken is part of wiki-map of the universe, on today’s present, it already feels like we’re living through the dark ages right now.
which, of course, raises that inevitable question as old as the concept of time itself: when the future arrives, are you going to be glad you made it through, or not so much?
i mean, for the people born then it won’t matter. they won’t know any different. like how my generation doesn’t know a concept of sex without aids being attached to it somehow. i bet the older generations pity how much worse it is for us, but since we don’t really have anything else to compare it to, it’s just all we know.
i feel like i’m already starting to pity younger generations.
like…. how for kids that were too young to be in high school when tupac was shot, they don’t really have the same understanding when you say “hip hop” to them that older generations do. and that already includes mine!
explaining to them what hiphop used to be like is like explaining how michael jackson used to be black. which is, of course, another big one all unto itself.
i think porn is probably the biggest point of lament. like what’s happened in the course of porn going from hidden and inaccessible to mainstream and expected. i remember reading a statistic somewhere that it’s like 7 out of 10 elementary school kids have already seen graphic porn on the internet when they weren’t even looking for it. whatever that must mean in terms of the kind of inescapable message that’s being passed along to kids about the expected standard for sexual behavior is kinda disheartening.
food is a huge one too. from obesity to anorexia we have more disorders around food now than ever before. either we don’t think about what we’re eating enough, or we obsessively overthink it–is this the consequence of not having to think about getting it in the first place?
and while we’re on the topic of overthinking things, there’s of course that little narcissism epidemic thing. the rise of the creative class is, of course, not doing any of us any favors here, since narcissism is a side effect of self expression, unfortunately.
there’s openmindedness, i guess. we’re definitely getting exposed to a greater assortment of lifestyles than an average person would have been able to encounter before, and it’s making us more tolerant as we come to realize that our default, may not be the universal default we thought it was. a none too shabby outcome of the world getting all smaller and way too crowded like.
but it’s interesting, you know… we’re openminded…. yet no more empathic than ever before.
i wonder how that happened…
maybe openmindedness is a “nurture” thing…. but empathy is a nature one? requiring actual genetic change vs. cultural? we “know” we shouldn’t do bad stuff to people over there, but it’s not like we are more prone to feel bad if we do. (in fact, all these horrifyingly gruesome movies about torture and mutilation oozing out of hollywood these days only seem to indicate we may be getting a greater kick out of it than ever). the real issue is that the proximity of “over there” is getting increasingly closer and closer to us, so in effect, our restraint is still just us thinking about OUR own asses.
jeez… this is making me depressed…
the only good change i can even think of is in terms of sustainability. here’s a concept that was barely even in the common dialogue just a few years ago, and now it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. finally, environmental consciousness has been emancipated from the hippie ball-and-chain, so now it can actually be hip for EVERYONE to care about sustainability instead of just the counterculturals.
but this one good bit of future de ja vu, isn’t enough. i’m still pretty heartbroken about the whole michael jackson becoming white thing.
and don’t get me started about hip hop.
there’s gotta me something more, right?
anyone got any bright future forecasts?