Today I entertained myself for a while by trying to imagine what life might be like 150 years from now. Why 150? No particular reason – except that by then I will be safely dead and you won’t be able to tell me how right or wrong I was.
These aren’t predictions. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous. But nor are they pure fantasy. They are, I suppose, a slightly rose-tinted view of where current trends – or backlashes against them – may take us.
People will devolve into smaller, self-governing communities, partly as a backlash against over-intrusive central government, but mostly because globalisation will prove to be too vulnerable to the vagaries of war, weather and turbulent economics. Jobs, food, and the administration of justice will become local affairs. Most people will walk to work, or will work from home. There will be a rise in “intentional communities” – like-minded people choosing to live in close proximity to each other, enabling them to pool resources such as arable land, farm machinery and vehicles.
With the focus moving back to small communities, there will be a reaction against rampant consumerism. People will want to become creators rather than consumers, replacing retail therapy with the sense of satisfaction that comes from making something pleasing. There will be an upswing of interest in the old-fashioned skills of weaving, sewing, woodwork and other activities that result in a useful end product. Leisure time will be spent in knitting circles rather than shopping malls. People will chop wood rather than go to the gym.
Items such as computers, washing machines and refrigerators will still be in demand, but customers will require that manufacturers produce goods that last. Most domestic technology will have stabilised, with the emphasis shifting from from innovation to quality. To offset the reduction in demand once artificially generated by built-in obsolescence, manufacturers will diversify into providing cost-efficient repair services in the home. Conspicuous consumption will fall drastically out of fashion, being regarded as vulgar and misguided. Goods will be admired for their durability and practicality rather than their newness or flashiness.
The internet, telecommunications and Facebook (or whatever replaces Facebook)
Data transfer – whether of web pages or human voices – will be available, wirelessly, everywhere, and the boundaries between the two will vanish. When you see on Facebook that it is somebody’s birthday, you will have the option to instantly call them up with a single click. A mini-hologram of them will appear in front of you (think Princess Leia’s recorded message in Star Wars), either in person or, of course, their voicemail.
With businesses becoming local, and telecommunications become almost indistinguishable from real life, the need for transport will decline significantly. The entire TSA will be disbanded (okay, I’m dreaming now). Travel will become mostly a leisure activity, with long annual vacations to explore interesting places. As such, there will be no particular hurry, and the journey will become as important as the destination. There will be a revival of surface travel, particularly by ship and train.
Many communities will start to barter, exchanging goods and services for other goods and services. As is already happening in several transition towns, local currencies may be created to facilitate this process. “Credit” will once again mean running a tab at the local pub or bar, rather than wielding a piece of plastic. Money will be seen as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
There will be a reaction against over-processed foods and agri-business, as part of the “small is beautiful” philosophy and an increasing understanding of the mind-body connection. The current upwards trend in farmers’ markets will continue, until every community has at least a weekly market where people come to buy, sell and exchange locally-grown food. Along with the renaissance of domestic handicrafts, there will also be a renewed interest in cooking, baking and preserving. The “slow food” movement will come to predominate. With an increase in home-grown food and a decrease in low-nutrition fast food, obesity will decline and human health will once again improve.
There we go. I appreciate that it begs an awful lot of questions (global population being foremost) but this is a blog, not a book, so it isn’t meant to be comprehensive. I wanted this to be a short and sweet vision of the future – which, come to think of it, doesn’t look so different from a cleaned-up version of the past, with added technology.
The wind has died. RIP. It will be back in a few days. For now, the ocean is quiet. The dorados have been frisky today. Whenever I stop rowing for a meal break, they turn figures of eight beneath my boat, creating ripples as they break the surface. I can feel them banging against the hull, as if giving me a nudge to say, “get a move on”.
Quote for the day – two for the price of one today:
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” (Alan Kay)
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Photo: one of my fish-tastic friends
Sponsored Miles: Chris Vincent, Annabel Arndt, Robert O’Connor, Bonnie Sterngold, Tom Grimmett, Kevin Seid (Everpaddle), Ben Covington and an anonymous donor – all of these receive our thanks today for their spport.