Where are our jetpacks, flying cars and antigravity belts!
Even cartoons such as “The Jetsons,” first episode 1962, predicted an optimistic tech future.
After experimentation, failures, successes, tech wonders could arrive, least for some. Debates continue about possibility of solving problems with ever advancing, clever, efficient new technologies.
As a former Luddite I now value technology, combined with many well-intentioned minds seeking out, often solving situations large, small, and unexpected. But can we think, make, or shop our way out of over consumption, expanding populations, political fights, military conflicts or chronic pessimism?
Look closely at future predictions, utopian and dystopian. We find puzzles too. Along with future tech advances in “The Jetsons,” “Star Trek,” “Blade Runner,” there can also be familiar human issues.
Man, woman, children, family, dog, tech house, cars, work, home life — there are still dilemmas.
With all our tech advances there’s longing for some version of, the good old days.
Online friends become teary eyed picturing a building with real wood or stone walls.
Family fly in from around the country to sit around a historic wood table, debate while eating a turkey and share old stories.
Can we pick and choose treasures from those good old days? Will tech advances help push lifestyles in odd unimaginable directions?
Even if many long for a simpler life, human beings seem to thrive on complexity. Complex connections in our smart phones, computers, techno travel wonders make that pleasant trip to the mountains, beach, cabin possible.
My winter COVID survival was helped by wireless headphones streaming Bollywood music for morning yoga, dance and meditation. Online upgrading of camping gear kept dreams of sleeping outdoors alive. Simple dreams, complex technology, at affordable prices. Possibility of leisure time arrives when less energy is spent on basic survival. Working less daydreaming, can be empowering or “The Devil’s Playground.”
In my younger years I lived on a farm with recovering hippies, city escapees, experimental farmers and builders. As a friend suggested, the simple life isn’t easy! Simple as the lifestyle appeared, there were other complexities. We developed deeper relationships with each other, the land, buildings, animals, gardens, neighbors, surrounding locals, small businesses, farmers, families.
Fewer vehicles, less money, we asked for help, looked under the hood, fixed things, planned better, carpooled. Traveling fewer miles, we knew our area well.
Professor, writer, speaker, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi popularized ideas of developing complexity by utilizing a state of Flow, focused work-play.
Although many have complicated lives, this isn’t the same as developing complexity.
Mihaly uses the example of waiting in a doctors office. A table displays diverse magazines.
Which ones, how many do you look through? Should interests be selective, a Darwinian focus on what might best lead to survival, economic, reproductive success? Or are we more curious, searching to understanding life connections beyond the familiar?
Accepting a seat on The Star Ship Enterprise or similar commercial voyage could mean giving up familiar family ties, dog walks, favorite food, vacations. Developing complexity may not be safe, easy, comfortable.
An optimistic future imagines more of us using technology, leisure time, for self development, expanding intellectual pursuits, emotional clarity, exploration and care of environment, improved optimal health.
Even relationship with our things changes when there’s time, motivation to better understand how things are made, best used, recycled. Channeling the inner scientist, engineer, artist, caretaker, new ways of toolmaking, work and play, helps create more complex individuals. Emotional maturity suggests circles of life cared for can also expand beyond nuclear family, relatives, friends, city blocks.
No reason to believe complexity is limited to technology, consumer goods, shopping habits. Humans are uniquely complex, searching for even more ways to connect, understand, create, nurture, grow.
Inevitable change, enhanced by technology and lifestyle choices, might be less painful when personal development is accepted, encouraged. Healthier people, expanded relationships, self development, along with complex efficient machines, could help avoid a dystopian future of conflict, uncertainty, despair.
Embracing complexity in forms beyond technology and consumerism could lead to an optimistic future, even without flying cars.
Malore is a contractor, naturalist and writer living on the edge of Lexington.