The Future, Not According to Me

Tracey Barnett ©April 2008

I’m a dinosaur in the making. I can just smell the obsolescence on my breath. I am Windows to a future of Linux. I am a video store to a world of TiVo. And that’s the good news.

The bad news is that it sucks being the cusp generation. The truths I hold to be self-evident are going down fast, and it’s not pretty. The following is my first, maybe annual, list of the future– not according to me. These are issues where the only thing I’m sure of is that I’m headed in the same cultural trajectory as aspic and doilies

Plastic Surgery will become just another expression of individuality.

It was the picture of Kenny Rogers’ eyelift that put me over the edge. It looks like someone yelled “Pull!” and Kenny was the clay pigeon shot into the air. He’s listed onthe 15 Celebrity Plastic Surgery Disasters website, vital reading for my intellectual development.

I read this stuff because it reassures me that the two profita rolls attached to either side of my head are a badge of self-righteous acceptance, not just wind resistant spoilers when I run. But The Swan and Extreme Makeover are teaching my offspring otherwise. While we re-cut ourselves into a generic cookie-cutter idea of beauty today, the next incarnation of self-design will be a trend toward free creativity expressed under the knife.

Only a few extraordiniarily weird people have tried making their features into a lioness [see socialite Jocelyn Wildenstein– Oh. My. Gawd.], but I think the stigma of my generation still holds that plastic surgery equals a piece of your individuality, will fall completely–at least by the time Apple Paltrow/Martin grows up and wants to affix a stem to the top of her head to express her inner fruit.

My kind will lose this battle, and it won’t even be an important fight by the time my children start withdrawing from their KiwiSavers.

Our real energy solution is one that hasn’t been discovered yet.

Yes, electric cars and wind sound far sexier than oil and coal, but the energy solution I’d bank on tomorrow is an energy-harvesting staircase called the Pacesetter.

London architecture firm, the Facility, is developing a technology that can harvest the 8 watts of energy vibrations we expend with each step we take. Pretty insignificant, until you multiply that into 30,000 people walking through a major-city subway during rush hour. These designers are putting small hydraulic generators in floors to capture vibration and convert it into electricity.

The possibilities are endless; under roads, trains through tunnels, anywhere small vibrations can be captured.

Just when you think the world is doomed, you realise Dancing with the Stars-generated electricity may help save mankind–and that shuts you up toute suite.

Babies will be manufactured and that’s– um, okay.

When I first saw the photo of a dozen pregnant Indian women surrogates in pink and blue surgical masks, my nostrils flared in anti-Orwellian instincts. The scores of stories generated from this booming $400,000 million [USD] injection into India’s economy are hesitant but careful, proclaiming, “Outsourcing Motherhood” and “Wombs for Rent”.

There are 600 in vitro clinics in India today, where women often live together in dorms and can be paid anywhere from 3-10 years of their salary for their commitment, according to ABC News.

For many, the money is transformative. It can help pull them out of poverty or pay for their own children’s education. Grateful childless foreign couples that can’t afford the huge price tag for in vitro in their home countries are now redefining the ethics of out-sourced medicine. This one is here to stay, largely because there is no economic impetus by any parties involved to pull it down.

Today, I snarl at women who opt for pre-planned caesareans over vaginal delivery. But I see the day coming when I will have to convince my daughter that even baring her own child has value.

You haven’t heard the last of Yoko Ono.

This comment may get me more hate mail than anything I’ve ever written. But I have a hunch: I suspect that in three hundred years from now, Yoko Ono’s place in cultural history will overtake or at least equal John Lennon’s.

Stop retching. Yoko Ono was undeniably a seminal figure in the history of performance art in early 60’s in New York City, before she met Lennon. She was creating flushing toilet soundtracks at Carnegie Hall and shocking audiences in Tokyo and London by asking them to cut off her clothes with a scissors by 1964. In 2001, a 40-year retrospective of her multi-media conceptual work won the prestigious International Art Critics prize.

I have no idea if she will be Mozart to Lennon’s Salieri someday, but her imprint on avant-garde culture of its day will hold the test of time.

I never said the future could sing.


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