What happened to the future?
I mean the future everyone was talking about when I was a kid back in the 60’s.
The one where we all lived propped up on mile high towers in near-space where the stars shone all the time. We drove, or flew rather, on skyways in tiny little space cars enclosed with synthetic see through bubble tops.
Hi-tech machines and robots took care of all of our menial chores, including bathing, brushing our teeth and even dressing ourselves. All you need do was push a few buttons and off you went down a conveyor belt and into some sort of electronic phone booth where, within seconds, you emerged from the other side fully clothed and ready for your day at the sprocket factory…but not before saying goodbye to Jane your wife…daughter Judy and your boy Elroy.
When I was a kid I couldn’t wait for that future. It might have been the cool, high collared stretchy outfits, but I think it was more the idea that anything imagined was possible or within reach of possible, through technology...although I had never heard or used the word technology back then. Back then, the most technology I came in contact with was the transistor radio I could sneak into the classroom to listen to the World Series through a tiny earphone that used to belong to Marconi. And I guess there were my glow in the dark monster toys. But they only glowed for about 10 seconds and I think sent radioactive ions into my frontal lobe…I think.
So certain and anxious was I for this brave new world, that I actually counted off the years until we reached this utopian space age, which I associated with the year 2000. I was about 8 at the time, in 1962, so 38 more years to go was the magic number. But my anticipatory enthusiasm was a little bittersweet because I also calculated that I would be all of 46 by then, pretty old to fully enjoy it all.
But hey, maybe in the future 46 wouldn’t be all that old. Maybe 46 would be the new 18!
Futuristic towers and buildings as far as the eye could see. Gleaming monorails streaking overhead. Cars that drove on streets AND water. Moving sidewalks and huge waffles with strawberries and whip cream…the food of the 21st century, right there for the taking.
The GM pavilion had it all. Tall space needle buildings, flying cars…even underwater cities.
This I assumed, in my decade old brain, was the boom that would jettison us up into our little space apartments and cars. It was all making sense…at least to me.
Vacationing on the moon…hiking on Mars….
This was happening people!
Only it didn’t….
Oh sure…we do have microwave ovens that can cook a chicken in about 10 seconds. But did you ever eat a microwaved chicken?
We have a lifetime of collected music on devices the size of a stick of gum.
Mobile phones and computers that can tell us anything we need to know…except how to get to grandma’s house without going over the river and through the woods.
Flat screen TV’s that can fill an entire wall.
Medical imaging that can spot a pin hole on your liver.
Digital space pictures of Uranus as clear as…well, let’s leave that to the imagination.
We have all that and more, but it doesn’t seem like enough.
I guess the future loses some of its shine when it becomes the present.
We still have all the bad stuff that we had hoped would disappear. And in some cases the bad stuff seems worse than ever. Far from the Utopia we were lead to believe was on the way.
On top of all that….no flying cars, no spaceways, no robots to clean the toilet…not even the cool high collared stretchy suits.
Even my cool futuristic World’s Fair hat.
Just try taking that away from me….