We’re not exactly partying like it’s 1999
It’s 1999; welcome to the future.
Remember when you were a kid and you thought about the future? What did you imagine 1999 would be like?
Kids growing up in the 1950s might have imagined a time when we all commuted between earth and outer space; a time when you could hop on your lunar cruiser, strap on a bubble helmet and hang out on the surface of a distant moon.
Like George Jetson, we could all communicate via TV phones and have robots serving up a nice, hot dinner every night.
Kids in the 1960s might have imagined there would be no more war or that our establishment would break down and we’d all live on farms where we share the earth. Gag.
Those who came up in the 1970s saw a world where fossil fuels were depleted and we would all drive around in electric cars listening to 8-tracks.
Me, I grew up in the ’80s.
Most people my age figured by 1999 we would have already had World War III with the Soviets. Remember living under the spectre of fear that the Reds would bring about a global thermonuclear war or that it would be caused by a computer glitch a la War Games?
1999 would be a New World Order and it would be dominated by whomever had won the Cold War. Little did we know the world would actually be controlled by Bill Gates and Fox’s Rupert Murdoch.
I always imagined 1999 similar to the Twilight Zone episode where the man is the lone survivor of a nuclear war (he was the only person in the world in a bank vault – yeah, right). He never liked people too much and he is overjoyed to discover he has a world of books all to himself.
In the end, Serling got all didactic on us and the guy steps on his glasses and they break. If the guy were really smart, he’d feel his way around to the corner drug store, take a pair of glasses and get on with his life.
But, hey, it was science fiction and it scared us.
Another movie with a lot of influence on how I saw the future was Red Dawn. Russians inexplicably invade a small Western ski town and the local high school kids (again, the only survivors) are forced to band together and fight off the Red attack.
Sure, in retrospect, it was dumb as dirt and now we watch it for laughs, but back then we didn’t know the Russians were so broke they couldn’t even organize a potluck supper at the Y.
We thought they were the superpower they claimed to be. Remember the news clips of Soviet armies marching through Red Square displaying their firepower for the approval of leaders like Brezhnev and Andropov?
I figured by 1999 we’d all be crawling out of our bomb shelters to find a vast wasteland controlled by armed scavengers like in Mad Max.
I know, I saw too many movies as a kid.
Still, for 1999 to be as hum-drum average as it seems to be, is a bit of a let-down.
What does the future bring? More of the same.
Sure, we walk around with little portable telephones and we can talk to someone in China over our computers, but you know what? That phone comes with a monthly bill and crappy reception and that 18-year-old girl on the Internet is really a 300-pound Cheetos-eating guy named Mort sitting in his parent’s basement in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
The future seems to be all about illusions.
Microwaves can cook up dinner in less than 6 minutes, but nothing tastes better than a meal prepared from scratch and slaved over all day.
E-mail is quite convenient, but it will never replace picking up the phone or visiting someone in person.
Technology promised freeing up our time, but what have we done with that time? Spent more time on other things to keep us busy.
Do we live in space-age cities with high-rise buildings and commute on super-fast bullet trains? Not really. I’ve seen stats that show a majority of Americans still live in rural areas and that more and more of them are moving to the mountains or the country.
The only thing that has really changed in the past, say 30 years, is America’s shift from a military-industrial complex to that of a global information complex.
What exactly does all that mean? I don’t know; it’s about as annoying and meaningless to me as the word “infrastructure” or “downsizing.”
The only prediction of the future to come close to the truth was George Orwell’s chilling 1984, written all the way back in 1948.
Elements of his story included Big Brother, an unseen governmental entity which watched over you, making sure you stayed in line.
With U.S. government moving more and more toward a European-style socialism, we have more government intrusion into our lives every day.
More laws, more taxes, bigger government. 1984.
Remember Newspeak? The kinder, gentler language of the future?
Look at the way we talk now. We’re like a bunch of first-year law school kids.
Your sex is now your “gender.” Pets are now “animal companions.” Jails are now “correctional facilities.” It all sounds like A Clockwork Orange.
“Say, Dave. Of what gender is your animal companion?”
“It’s a Daschund-American male. How’s your job as a corrections officer at the correctional facility?”
“Open the pod bay door, HAL.”
“I don’t think so, Dave.”
Welcome to 1999. Ain’t the future a blast?
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