Creative Nonfiction: Things I Was Supposed to Have by the 21st Century but Don’t
Things I Was Supposed to Have by the 21st Century but Don’t
by Scott Christian
Yes, I am in fact a 21st Century digital boy, and no I don’t know how to live but, frankly, I’m a bit disappointed at my lot of toys. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, pop culture led me to believe that a certain amount of technological advancements would be made by the early 2000’s and, although in some cases we may have a few years to go, I’m growing skeptical over there fruition. Movies, cartoons, books, and TV shows are no strangers to unfulfilled promises, but still, I can’t help feeling gypped. Here is a rundown of the things that I should be enjoying right now but don’t.
The first and in my mind most important are hover cars and hover boards. According to Back to the Future II, by the year 2015, skyways would be jammed with hover traffic and children would be frolicking across streets and sidewalks (but not water, for that you have to have power) on floating, wheel-less skateboards. Yes, we’re still three years and change from that date, but do you really see such hover technology arriving in that time? I mean the hover infrastructure alone must take more than four years to build. And here I am rolling around on terra firma like a fucking cave man. My new policy for any and all future transport is to say no to wheels and yes to hover.
I can’t count the number of lies told about this next so called 21st Century convenience, but what I do know is that I am not currently using it. Watch communication. How many movies, comics, and TV shows assured us that we would one day be communicating to each other via wristwatch. As recently as the movie Gattaca they were doing it, and that movie, which was released in 1998, was supposed to be taking place in the near future. Instead I’m exerting I don’t know how many calories a day lifting my hand all the way to my ear. When I was a kid I had a calculator watch that I used to pretend I could use to talk to my friends, but unless said friend was standing less than three feet away, it was a fairly one sided conversation. Incidentally, how great were the 80’s for giving us the calculator watch. You know, just in case you had an emergency need to do simple math with the corner of your fingernail.
Ever been robbed or criminalized in some way only to be aided by boring old carbon based law enforcement? That’s right, the 21st Century was supposed to give us RoboCops, or at least one RoboCop, and I sure as hell haven’t seen any. Nope, just the same old guy with the mustache and the crew cut. Where’s the cop who, after losing limbs and most of his face, volunteers to be converted into a nearly indestructible titanium based man/machine. Nowhere, that’s where. Think you’ll be running that red light with RoboCop on traffic patrol? Think again.
Here’s a big one, although it’s mostly been touted by the late night cable industry and, let’s face it, their sources may not be entirely reliable. What I’m talking about is virtual reality sex. The future, which is now, was supposed to produce a set of goggles and a funky glove so that I can get my virtual nasty on. Granted the virtual sex machines usually ended up killing people in these movies but, hey, what a way to go, right? Instead, here I am stuck having sex the old fashioned way…sitting in front of my laptop.
With the planet apparently on the brink of destruction, and hippies with hybrids allegedly the only cure, you’d think the much portrayed planet colonization scenario would have come to fruition, but it hasn’t. The furthest we’ve gotten is to pack a couple of people in a can just outside our own atmosphere. Seriously? We land on the moon forty years ago and were not selling condos on Mars? What happened? Not that I want to move to another planet, since they will inevitably have dinosaurs, psychotic aliens, or three-breasted prostitutes, but still, it’d be nice to see some progress. I mean come on NASA, show a little effort.
I can’t help but feel sad and empty over the state of affairs of our real 21st Century and I don’t see how things will get any better. I’d like to believe that in four years I’ll be wearing auto lace Nikes and self-drying jackets and watching the Cubs win the World Series, but I really doubt any of it will happen. Especially the Cubs. I guess I’ll just go mope around in my wheel based car for a bit and hope that this whole shimmery silver unitard with matching boots thing finally comes into style.
Scott is a freelance journalist who’s work has appeared in Orange Coast Magazine, Motorcyclist, and Bicycling. He graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a degree in English and is currently working towards his Masters at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Institute for Journalism. He lives in Brooklyn.