Friday, July 14, 2017


We prefer a bleak future.
Whenever we imagine what lies ahead, the outlook is usually grim. Whenever a book, movie, or TV show envisions things to come, the story takes place in a broken world.
Of course heavy-handed agendas influence predictions. Here’s a glimpse of the grimy, poisonous environment that awaits us all, if we continue to neglect recycling. Behold the tyrannical AI who will emerge out of our desperate dependence on social networks. Welcome to the barren wasteland crawling with cowering survivors, the fate of us all if you don’t straighten up and vote right. Choose a flavor.
But what about right now? How are you doing? And while we’re at it, how does your future look? You yourself may very well live to see one of the standard-issue grim scenarios, but if you’re like most people, right now you might very well be in the middle of your own private dystopia.
Some things are fine. But there are some other things that are not so great.
Let’s see if this hits close:

Moments after your head leaves your pillow, you grab your cell phone to check for texts and emails. You check Facebook to do some low-impact stalking of your 1,000 friends.
With at least some dread, you crawl to an upright position. You then turn on the news or some music or an audiobook (or all three at the same time) so there will be some kind of background noise while you frantically jury-rig a presentable version of yourself with some hot water, a mirror, and laundry pulled directly from the dryer.  
If you don’t skip breakfast altogether, you eat it over the sink. Leaving a trail of crumbs and goodbyes, you snatch up keys or kids and throw yourself out the door. You’re haunted by the strong possibility you’re forgetting something, but you drive away with the enthusiasm of a bank heist.
Catalyzed by some form of caffeine, you slip into a hurricane of traffic. You try the right lane, then the left lane, then the right lane, arguing with drivers who can’t hear you.
Your day consists of disruptions and distractions. When you finally find your focus, it’s interrupted by more emails, phone calls, and posts or tweets about what people had for lunch. When the pace begins to feel bleary and blurry, you succumb to chasing rabbits through internet links or you fasten your brain to a game app. Only half of what you planned to do gets done.
Dusk is imminent, but you’re just getting started. You dive into a bonus round of extracurriculars. Someone has to play piano, soccer, or karate. Someone has to grab bread, hot dogs, or fast food. Someone has to drop something off, pick something up, or drop off something someone forgot to pick up. And if even if you’re not the specific “someone” directly involved, someone has to drive them there.  
You eventually pull up to your house that you rarely see in the daylight. The house you’re working so hard to have and yet hardly spend any time in. Now it’s time to have a meaningful dinner with a screen. Small talk and loose ends lead to a fidgety ramping-down processed through some form of digital anesthesia. If the day has left you extra twitchy, you might rely on a visit to the medicine cabinet.
Then you go to sleep.

With apologies to the suffering of some distant, future dystopia—
We’ve got problems right now.
Granted, we are not cannibals in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and we are not enslaved by Googlebook Overlord.
But still.
Things could be better.

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