Monthly Archives: May 2010

Welcome to Earth

When you’re my age, it’ll be the year 2041. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty will be up for review. Antarctica will likely be quite temperate by then. Technological singularity might happen within the decade. A manned mission to the Jovian moon Callisto is on the books. The world population will be around 9 billion. Mankind will have walked on Mars, provided we get off our asses.
Marlene McFly will be released from prison in the timeline where Marty doesn’t make his life better. Bruce WIllis will have long since departed to travel back in time and discover the secret of the twelve monkeys.
According to Star Trek, Television will have just become obsolete. The iPod will be available as a suppository. Civilization will be recovering from the great collapse of 2038 when unix timestamps rolled over, destroying all technology and turning the world into a hellish Mad Max landscape. Also, and I will admit this is only speculation, Mick Jagger will not be singing “Satisfaction” any more.
You’ll have taken classes with students from the opposite side of the world, via telepresence, and won’t even think that’s weird. You will never have known a world where personal computers were something strange and rare. You will never have known a world where cars run on leaded gasoline. You will never have known a world where televisions were square and had a curvature to them. You will never have known a world where there hasn’t been an African-American president, or where there’s no such thing as same-sex marriage. The terms “East Germany” and “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” will be ones you know from history class, not from world geography. You will never have used a rotary telephone. If someone asks you how many planets there are in the solar system, you will instinctively say “Eight” (Unless my plans to explode Neptune by 2021 come off).
You’ll never see a slasher film where the bad guy cuts the heroes off from civilization by cutting the phone lines. You won’t know what the word “newspaper” means. You will never have said “Four hundred TV channels? Why would anyone need more than three?” You will intuitively understand which of “Venti” and “Grande” is bigger, and will not consider it at all strange to pay four dollars for coffee. The phrase “Don’t touch that dial” will not make any sense to you. You’ll never have used a floppy disk. You’ll never have had to wait 6-8 weeks for shipping. If, as is, sorry, the genetic likelihood, you turn out to be nearsighted, you’ll never have lived in a world where glasses were the only option.
You will never have known a world where you could leave your shoes on at airport security, and you’ll never have felt a little twinge of loss when you saw the New York skyline. It’ll be a bit warmer, and there will be a lot less wildlife about. You’ll never have paid less than two dollars for a gallon of gasoline, if you’ve ever bought it at all. You won’t know a world free of pollution, of zero-tolerance laws, of terrorism, and of batshit insane responses to terrorism. You’ll never have flown on a supersonic commercial jet. You’ll never have met Fred Rogers. Sorry about that.
The idea that “friends” are only people who you know by accident of geography will be alien to you, and I hope that means that you’ll be from a world that’s more connected and less lonely. That you’ll have grown up in a world where it’s hard to dismiss the needs of people just because they don’t live in your town or have the same color skin as you. And that you’ll live in a world where whatever passion takes you, you’ll be able to find friends to share it with. I hope you live in a world where we don’t use our common hatred and common enemies to define us, where when we see the suffering of our fellow man, we say, “What can I do to help?” and not “Screw you, I got mine!” I hope you live in a world where no one has to make the decision between food and healthcare. Where it’s not a contentious issue to suggest that the overwhelming opinion of scientists across the world might just be the truth. Where we don’t consider profit the true measure of success, and recognize a difference between someone’s personal worth and the amount of cash in their bank account.
I also hope we all have flying cars and jetpacks. But I’m not holding my breath.
Madalynn Elizabeth Ransom, welcome to Earth. Enjoy.
Love, Uncle Ross and Aunt Leah