Jan 302011
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

The future can be scary. Things change in unpredictable ways, and while we often laugh at old people unable to cope with technology and new social mores, soon we will be those old people, and our space-children will laugh at our inability to use the new super Twitter.

But you have one thing all current old people never did –– someone willing to make grossly inaccurate predictions of the future and sell it as absolute truth. The best way to determine the future is to look at current trends and try to guess how they might play out in the coming years.

With that in mind, I offer my own understanding of how things are.

Let’s start with social media. We are currently content to blog our every thought and slavishly follow the tweets of the most inane, yet famous, jerks of our time. How will this change as technology grows and expands?

Currently, there is still the illusion of privacy. You can be content with yourself that those stupid things you did at the party last week were not immediately recorded and posted to YouTube, because your friends did not think to pull out their phones and embarrass you.

This will change as soon as corporations figure out that embarrassing videos are huge eye-draws online. They’re already onto this. Even most reality shows are little more than a series of embarrassing drunken accidents that were somehow filmed and turned into a media empire.

But let’s say, for example, Pepsi paid you a penny every time a link from your video to their ad was clicked. Suddenly, there’s no reason not to film every moment in all its embarrassing glory. If you lose a dare and drunkenly sing whilst wearing a pretty, pink tutu (it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl –– it still looks dorky) you can expect to have a dozen camera phones on you, in hopes that one of them strikes digital gold. And if you get a kickback, why not act a fool?

In summary, all the world is a reality show, and men and women are merely actors.

Speaking of smart-phones, you can expect the ability to socialize normally to disappear.

There’s no reason to talk to someone for five consecutive minutes as it stands now –– “Angry Birds” and Facebook chat demand your attention, and they’re just talking about their stupid day.

So, in 20 years, when no adult has gone a day without texting, you can expect the media will respond. TV shows will run plots side by side, with each screen having the conversation and lives of 10 characters going on at once. Granted, it will all be the same garbage we watch today, but 10 times as much.

You can’t cover the future without giving a nod toward ever-climbing obesity rates. With 34 percent of American adults currently obese, and no sign of us running out of things to deep fry, fat is going to become the new sexy. See, our obsession with thin body shapes is a pretty new thing. Many years ago, fat meant you were healthy and had eaten well, so clearly we’re capable of being attracted to that.

Since the species has to go on, the only real option is to find fat sexy. Keep that in mind the next time you go on a diet. Sean Connery is old and attractive –– in 20 years, you can be like him, only swollen and bloated with desirability.

There are some health risks with weight gain that make it an objective bad idea, but when have we not been willing to suffer for fashion?

Finally, there is the old art of debate. Currently we rely on talking points and lying. In the future, we’ll cut out the middlemen, and all opposing viewpoints will be settled by whichever side has the loudest supporters.

So, there you are: a magnificent future, in which we are obese, socially malformed howler monkeys who are constantly profiting from each others shame. On second thought, 20 years may be a bit of a stretch.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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