Do you remember when…?

Do you remember when the UK had half pennies? I do. I once bought a stack of comics about three feet high for twelve and a half pence. Do you remember black and white TVs? We had one growing up. Do you remember…

Well, actually, I don’t want to talk about those kinds of memories. I want to talk about the stuff that, at some point in our future lifetimes, we will look back on and think “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that was ever a thing.”

What will those be?

Some guesses of mine include…

Short term – smoking. It’s ridiculous. You wrap up this toxic shit in paper, you hold one end of it in your mouth, you set fire to the other end, and you deliberately pull the poisonous, choking smoke into your lungs. Your lungs have one job! That isn’t it! I have very few friends that smoke. I am struggling to think of anyone at all, right now. I think, and hope, it’s just… going away. People are quitting. I honestly can’t wait until it’s only done in overpriced London bars as a quaint throwback to a bygone era when people actually engaged in this repulsive, antisocial act. Fuck smoking.

Long term – all drugs. Now, I don’t think people will ever stop being fascinated by and indeed addicted to mind-altering experiences, but I think eventually we’ll have the brain so well mapped and understood that we can simulate the effect of any drug with just a… well, a user interface. No more needles or pills or powders or brownies or withdrawals or side-effects or any of that. Tweak various chemical balances, within certain parameters that are hardlocked, and trip away, future people. Trip away.

Short term – mass produced food. This is a weird one. Bear with me. Oh, when someone says “Bear with me” in text, do you ever wonder if there’s an actual bear with them, and they are panicking and can’t tell you anything more than that basic but crucial fact because they’re busy running way? No? Okay.

I was… yeah. Generic food. The more I talk to friends about dietary stuff, the more I see about it, the clearer it seems that we each, individually, really need bespoke diets. We all have such wildly different tolerances, requirements, genetic predispositions, metabolisms and so on that I really think, at some point, we’ll look back and say “You know, we all used to buy the exact same food as one another, and eat it, and expected it to work. We really did.” And that will elicit bemused eyebrow archings, and baffled grunts. There are a billion different diets out there, and a part of me thinks there needs to be six billion more; one for each of us. This is about as wild a hunch as hunches get. This is utterly unscientific, unresearched, and probably nonsense. But I like it as a theory.

Another theory – so, right, our body needs certain chemical fuels to run. Fats and sugars and proteins and vitamins and so on. And we’re permanently (probably, at a guess) a bit low or a bit high in any one of them.

What if we could be 100% bang on? In a split second, our body had precisely everything it needed? The Goldilocks Zone of noms. I think we’d probably explode, or ascend to a higher plane, or maybe just write a fairly mediocre tweet about feeling good. One of those.

Long term – meals! Yeah, we’re totes going to have a pill with everything in it, boom, done. To elaborate (delicately) on my digression just above, think about how much of the stuff we put in our mouths isn’t needed at all. It’s waste. It leaves again. Imagine if we figured out a system where nothing needed to leave, ever again. Imagine getting rid of that slice of life entirely. That would be cool.

Short term – owning material things. I’m already getting there. Admittedly that’s partly because I have moved house so many times, and I’m sick of heaving a dozen boxes up three flights of stairs, knowing – with every crack of my knee and banged knuckle – that they will sit in my room, unopened, until the next move. Owning stuff is dumb. Stop buying stuff. You don’t need all that stuff. You don’t even use the stuff you have. It’s just stuff. In a more pragmatic sense, our entertainment is all out there floating in the netherwebs anyway. Netflix and YouTube have teamed up to beat traditional TV into grovelling submission. Not just for me, but a lot of people I know. Oh! That should – no, wait. First…

Long term – BEING A MATERIAL THING. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought that one through.

Short term – traditional TV. I’m sorry, what? You have about two, maybe three things I actually want to watch amongst hundreds of shows, and you’re going to make me wait days until you decide you will let me watch those modest offerings, at some precise and inflexible hour you decree in all your grand wisdom and untouchable majesty? No, I don’t think so.

I worked for a TV channel for three-and-a-half years. That model just isn’t going to work much longer.

Long term – current intellectual property laws and copyrights and licensing and ad-driven revenue and all that stuff. There are a thousand people who know this subject far better than I, so I won’t stumble around in the dark making guesses. It pretty obviously doesn’t work, though. And I say this as someone who hates piracy. Sure, technically, it’s not stealing. Right? They still have it even after you take it. But it sure as hell feels like stealing to me.

We know what we want, and these days most of us just seem to take it, at will, free of charge, from the internet. It doesn’t matter how much that thing cost, we feel like we deserve it for free. Something’s gotta give.

That’ll do for now. I suspect this is the least coherent post yet, but for now I’m going to stick to my ‘minimal editing, don’t even read it, just pour out some brain juice and hit Publish’ approach.

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One Response to Do you remember when…?

  1. India says:

    My god yeah, the traditional TV model seems so ludicrous now, I wonder if it will survive beyond our generation. Gone will be all those shows that people only watch because there is nothing else on… as well as all the crews and editors and people working on them. I imagine it will be a big kick to the industry – a bit like the demise of high street CD retailers. But there’s no point clinging to a format that is outdated and ineffective.

    On the whole “owning stuff” thing, I am surprised the car sharing services don’t seem to have taken off yet. Car2go has disappeared and I only ever see people using ZipCar to hire vans. It’s strange, because cars are often useful but owning one can be such a mega pain in the arse.

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