Thursday, 21 October 2010

On My Un-Futuristic Life

I know that, coming from someone who goes on and on about nostalgia, the past and his difficult relationship with technology, this post may come across hypocritical.

The building I work in is a converted Victorian warehouse. I like this very much; I like how it seems to have been designed to confuse you, with floors that are completely bypassed by some of the staircases, basements nobody tells you about and odd little storage rooms that you have to crawl into because the ceilings are so low. Yesterday, when I returned to the building after my daily lunchtime stroll along Regent's Canal, the Star Wars theme was blaring from the post room. It seemed incredibly out of place, and I began to feel nostalgic - only for the future.

Bear with me, I will wrestle some sense out of the last sentence if it's the last thing I do. You see when I was growing up, this wasn't how I expected the future to be. And a lot of my expectations about what the world would be like when I was an adult were shaped by things like Star Wars. No, I didn't think I'd be living in space, but I imagined things would be somewhat more advanced than they are.

I'm not asking for much. I don't need to float around in a galaxy far, far away. I'd settle for a lift that works. I don't even need a spaceship with hyperdrive capabilities that can fly from one end of the universe to the other in seconds. I would like a tube train that can deliver me to work without running out of breath and sitting in a tunnel for 15 minutes while it recharges its batteries*. OK, I wouldn't say no if somebody offered me an omniscient little robot that can play videos, pick locks, electrocute people and repair machinery. But I do have an iPhone and there's probably apps for all these things already.

Perhaps I should be grateful - my boss, for example, is actually quite a nice bloke and not a mask-wearing tyrant who could kill me by waving at me. It's just if you'd asked 6-year old Tom what the world would be like in 2010 the response would probably have involved hoverboots, lasars and teleportation. After a period in which technology seemed to race forward at a rate of knots, spewing out world-changing inventions like the interweb and mobile phones like there was no tomorrow, doesn't it seem a bit quiet?

Perhaps I'm ignoring important developments. I do spend most of my day in a Victorian warehouse after all, the building would probably reject any technological development - which is perhaps why the lift doesn't work. It's like The Haunting. Please feel free to prove me wrong and restore what little faith I once had in technology. In the meantime, I'm off camping for the weekend (in Dorset, not the Dagobah System).

*Admittedly is nothing compared to the poor souls stuck on the Jubilee and Victoria lines this week.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. When I was a kid I didn't really think about the future that much. I guess cause my life was so in the present, there wasn't time to think about it. Now the future is all I think about and it's so scary.

  3. I'm with Allison - I don't think I thought much about the future when I was a little kid. I was too busy being fascinated with crazy new things like computers and cell phones.

    The year 2010 is seriously lacking in hover boots, lazers and teleportation though.

  4. When I was young(er), *ahem* my cousins and I used to talk a lot about how the year 2000+ will be. We expected robots and flying public vehicles (aside from airplanes and helicopters, of course). We even argued about it. This post reminded me of that part of my childhood.

    I think this is just another proof that we are related!! Wait. You weren't the cousin I was having an argument with, are you?

  5. I absolutely envisioned the 2000s to be something out of the Jetsons. Even in '99, I was convinced we'd have jetpacks before too long! Alas, 11 years later and still nothing.

    I do think that sometimes we're not living up to our potential as a race. There are so many little things we can do to improve what we already have- take a fantastic idea and tweak it to make it phenomenal! I don't know if it's because our energies are elsewhere preoccupied or because we're still struggling to come up with that simple tweak. But sometimes it disheartens me and I wonder if everything worth inventing and tweaking has already been done. Have we already plateaued? Have we created everything that is to be created?

    And then I think of the Jetsons.

  6. I don't remember what I thought as a child. Probably nothing. I was too involved in avoiding tag/tig and getting excited by computers. (I was an extremely cool child).

    I think a part of me always expects The Jetsons to happen though. (It's so going to happen; in terms of the futuristic technology, rather than they 1950s patriarchy.)

  7. @ Allison - I think, from the general theme that has arisen since Risha's comment, that the future should not be something to fear. It will be like the Jetsons, only less animated. I'm only joking, and not intending to mock your fear of the future. It scares the absolute crap out of me sometimes, too. Especially when I can't sleep and find my way on to conspiracy theory websites. Does nothing for the insomnia...

    @ Lauren - I know, 2010 is a complete hoverboot desert. And I spelt laser/lazer wrong. Thank you for so subtly point that out ;) I was also obsessed with no gadgets, but that's because we had new gadgets. Everything now seems like an update of something that's come before. I want something new and exciting and world-changing. And I want it now. Am I asking too much?

    @ Gnetch - no, I don't think I was, because I expected that too. We probably agreed. ABOUT EVERYTHING.

    @ Risha - a jetpack would make my life so much more interesting. We can't have plateaued. We can't have. I won't believe it. I'm normally so anti-technology that I don't care, but the world of technology isn't giving me much to rail against, of late. Apart from e-readers. Invent something for me. Give me something to moan about (as if I don't moan enough already).

    @ Rachel - 1950s patriarchy is not something I ever associated with the Jetsons. But I see your point, and will tut and turn over next time I see it on telly.

  8. I've often wondered what it would be like to have a boss who could kill by waving. I'm pretty certain it would motivate my lazier colleagues to increase productivity. Until they died, of course.

  9. @ leavespaceblank - there's the issue, I think. Too much power. If I had the power to kill-by-waving, I'm not sure I'd be able to trust myself. Especially if I'd had a drink, I'd probably kill-wave people just for a laugh.

  10. I would settle for a jetpack. Or a hover craft. Make getting to work that much simpler.

    Most of my expectations of the year 2010 were also shaped around movies like Star Wars, and even the Back to the Future movies.

    Of course, those expectations of nine year old Tabitha probably also included that she would one day become a Jedi and fall in love with Han Solo while beating the living snot out of the empire.... And well, we all know how that turned out.

    I do however have to agree with you that our advancements in technology have been a little quiet. Especially considering the ideas floating around out there and the technology/brains we already have that could put it to work.

    That being said, did you hear about the robot in Japan that was advanced enough it could actually play a robot in a movie?