The Future Before The Internet


I wrote and posted this a week or two ago on my Facbeook but now that we have a new official blog I thought it deserved it’s own entry, so here you go…

Here’s an interesting thought – if the core of your childhood took place in the 1980’s or early 90’s you are among the last generation in history to envision a future without the Internet. Remember what that looked like? We were going to have hover cars, people living in space, molecular transport tubes that sent us across the galaxy instantaneously, and everyone was going to wear cool shiny silver jumpsuits. Now, I will admit, most of how I imagined the future as a kid was based heavily on a variety of family vacations to Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center between 1986 and 1996, as well as the movie Back To The Future Part II. Still, let’s all agree that by now we should definitely have a few hover cars sitting next to us in traffic on the way to work.

So what happened? Where are the shiny suits? The transport tubes? Delorean Time Machines??? Anyone??? Well, in exchange for that tired cliché vision we dreamed of for so many years we got the Internet instead. Sure, the Internet is great, amazing, revolutionary, yada, yada, yada. But, I think it’s a very anticlimactic future for our generation. The mere idea of “The Year 2000” was once synonymous with science fiction, but all we got in the end was Y2K and Napster. Thanks Internet, I guess. We used to look up, out into space, and conceptualize a world beyond our own. Now we’re constantly looking down, conceptualizing a world within our laptop. That’s the future we were waiting for? iPhone apps and games for social networking? “So and so invited you to play Candy Crush??” Ah man, what a let down. Pretty far from space the final frontier. Think about it. We have a rover on Mars right now, a planet we’ve never been to before, but nobody seems to really care. When was the last time your Facebook news feed was inundated with educational pictures of space rocks? Who cares about life on another planet? Like, am I right? On the other hand, have you seen that trending Buzzfeed article “21 Things “The Goonies” Taught Me?” It’s totally so true OMG!!

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I wouldn’t feel let down if we were using the Internet to better our minds and not numb out on what is mainly pointless drivel. Cat pictures, food pictures, porn, Facebook stalking, stealing music,, and arguing; Generally speaking, these are the “great” advents of the Internet. We literally have an endless amount of knowledge at our fingertips at all time and THAT’S the information that means the most to us in cyber land. I guess it’s entertaining, but, I don’t feel any smarter or educated for having the Internet. I just find things out instantaneously and most of the time the information doesn’t stick to my brain anyway. I think that’s why we clutch to our smartphones so much. They’re beginning to think for us so we don’t have to. That’s why if someone asks us an educated question we most commonly reply with “I don’t know, let me Google it.”

Our future did not include the Internet until it just sort of appeared and took over. For most of us it showed up in the mail as a CD labeled “500 Free Hours of America Online.” That frantic dial up static noise not only connected us to the World Wide Web for the first time, it connected us to our future. The Internet came in and said “Move over hover car, rocket boots, zero gravity housing on the moon, you’re not in the cards for these people, I am.”

So, our vision of the future flipped and became introverted. That once big infinite black universe surrounding Earth shattered into a million smartphone screens that now reside in the palm of our hand. Sitting, starring, ignoring one another, tapping on a small plate of glass… I have to ask again, this is the future that was waiting for us? I’d rather have a house on the moon than Twitter, I’m just saying. #futurefail


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