The Null Device


Douglas Coupland has written a guide to the next 10 years, which starts off with in-your-face grimness ("1) It's going to get worse") and goes on from there, weaving, in typical Coupland fashion, between echoing the ambient zeitgeist (in this case, the sadofuturistic anomie of the world of the economic crisis, the Long Siege and the Tea Party), random factoids and speculative segues, almost like a depressive Jerry Seinfeld:

2) The future isn't going to feel futuristic
It's simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn't feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.
5) You'll spend a lot of your time feeling like a dog leashed to a pole outside the grocery store – separation anxiety will become your permanent state
Hasn't that been the human condition at least since the Industrial Revolution, if not the dawn of agriculture and the first large-scale societies?
6) The middle class is over. It's not coming back
Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day? That's where all the other jobs that once made us middle-class are going – to that same, magical, class-killing, job-sucking wormhole into which travel-agency jobs vanished, never to return. However, this won't stop people from self-identifying as middle-class, and as the years pass we'll be entering a replay of the antebellum South, when people defined themselves by the social status of their ancestors three generations back. Enjoy the new monoclass!
Well, there are still people (in the UK, at least) who identify as "working class", despite having university degrees, professional jobs and disposable income, because their grandparents worked in coal mines or car factories. The current notion of "middle class" is just as fixed in a point in time. Though wouldn't a "new monoclass" be by definition a middle class with no upper or lower classes? Or would the end of the middle class (at least in America, and possibly other Anglo-Saxon cultures), mean extreme polarisation of society into an affluent overclass and a wretched underclass?
11) Old people won't be quite so clueless
No more β€œthe Google,” because they'll be just that little bit younger.
12) Expect less
Not zero, just less.
Meanwhile, in the age of radically lowered expectations, the Generation X advice of "use jets while you still can" has become a far more modest "enjoy lettuce while you still can".
23) Everyone will be feeling the same way as you
25) Dreams will get better
26) Being alone will become easier
33) People who shun new technologies will be viewed as passive-aggressive control freaks trying to rope people into their world, much like vegetarian teenage girls in the early 1980s
42) You'll spend a lot of time shopping online from your jail cell
Over-criminalization of the populace, paired with the triumph of shopping as a dominant cultural activity, will create a world where the two poles of society are shopping and jail.
Coupland also sees the death of the suburbs, the deserted, impoverished tracts of suburbia being taken over by gangs and cultists, and North America possibly fragmenting (with Quebec leaving Canada, California splitting into "fiscal" and "non-fiscal", and the "Hate States" forming a coalition); happy times.

Meanwhile, Boing Boing has a riposte, "A Happy Mutant's Guide to the Near Future", in which the near future is all lolcats, sparkleponies and weird, but locally-sourced, ice cream.

douglas coupland future grim meathook future sadofuturism 0