Cleaning Out a Drawer and a Game of Back to the Future

Some time in the 1980s, one of my kids received the Futurevision card game as a gift. I don't remember playing it with any of them, so it must have been tossed into the family room game drawer. And it languished there along with partial decks of playing cards until I decided it was time to toss the junk and repurpose the drawer.

Too bad I never got the chance to play this game with my children. So before relegating the cards to the recycling bin, let's try it. Better late than never, right? I challenge you to help me decide if the future predicted by these cards has arrived. I'll share my predictions. Feel free to add your own. OK, here goes.

First category: Communication.

  • In 1911, people actually imagined newspapers of the future would be printed on a stamp-sized piece of film and projected onto a wall. News updates would arrive every half hour. They were only a little off on this one. Newspapers now appear on smart phones that are pretty small. But they didn't foresee the relentless 24/7 news cycle that dominates our lives. Over 100 years later, we are bombarded with news but only the news that tells us what we want to hear.
  • In 1948, George Orwell suggested in his book 1984 that television sets would become spying devices. I know that wasn't accurate in actual 1984, but it's pretty true now. I suspect my cable company spies on me through my television, computer, and iPhone. Does that sound like I'm crazy or a fan of Edward Snowden? Well, I know they keep tons of data on all of us. And how does Amazon know what I want to buy?
  • In 1961, many Americans predicted that "picturephones" would soon be widely used. And here we are, over 50 years later, Facetiming and Skyping away. I'm not sure this is the best development. While I love to communicate with my out-of-town grandkids this way so they will actually know who I am, I'm glad it's not the standard for all communication right now. Glad you can't see me in my nightgown with no makeup and bed-head hair as I write this. Or, awful thought, maybe my computer is a spying devise and someone out there can actually see me.

Next category: Health.

  • In 1924, an article called "Scientific Mating" predicted that electrical devises would be used to measure whether a man and woman should marry each other. Well, we all know this one sort of came to pass. But I'm pretty sure online dating services still can't actually measure whether people should marry one another. Also, the man/woman thing is a pretty dated concept. Mating these days is no longer gender specific and still far from scientific.
  • In the 1950s, doctors worried that Americans were not physically active enough, but the card goes on to say that just twenty years later jogging and other types of exercise would be extremely popular. LOL on this one. Sixty-five years later, doctors tell us the same thing. And I'll bet fewer of us are jogging these days. Yes, there are many more contraptions and classes to bring exercise into our lives, but ironically more of us are couch potatoes. Too tired, hassled, and overworked to exercise?
  • In 1968, an expert predicted that by 2018 there would be drugs to improve memory. OK, we still have three years but we'd better get going on this one. As the Baby Boomer generation slips into old age, lots of us will need to improve our memories. I know I just forgot what else I wanted to say about this.

Third category: Human Relations.

  • In 1888, H.G. Wells predicted in The Time Machine that the world would be divided into cannibals and vegetarians. My vegetarian daughter probably thinks the meat eaters in our family are close to cannibals. Luckily, the folks who still love their red meat have stayed away from literally putting people they don't like on the barbeque. Instead, they do it figuratively. Donald Trump anyone?
  • In 1900, as women were struggling for the right to vote, men predicted women would take over politics. So here we are 115 years later with a few more women in politics, but we have hardly taken over. Yes, there's Hillary. It's possible she could become President. But getting the right to vote, for women and all minorities, has not stopped our politics from being a white boys' club. And some of these boys keep trying to keep the rest of us from voting. So this prediction sadly did not prove to be true.
  • In 1945, many people believed the newly invented nuclear bomb would end all wars. Well, this one is a laugh except it's not at all funny. Yes, the bomb is horrific but we have found so many other ways to kill millions of innocent people in endless wars over the past 70 years. Enough said.

Last Category: Some Random Predictions.

  • In 1900, many people envisioned electric cars. So why has it taken over 100 years to start seeing affordable electric cars now and then? The 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? places the blame on automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, and many other parties whose interests were best served by continuing our gas-guzzling ways. Maybe now, after we have ruined our air quality and fought many wars over oil (see above), this vision is finally going to happen.
  • That same year, most Americans thought one bathroom per home would be enough for as family of the future. This was probably true for 80-90 years after most Americans agreed one bathroom would do the trick. But have you seen Love It or List It on HGTV? Now it seems like most Americans think one bathroom per person is more like it. And that bathroom had better include a large fancy shower AND a soaking tub.
  • In 1904, Popular Science Monthly predicted airplanes would be used for sport but would never succeed as mass transportation. I think this one has come true. Airplanes are pretty bad at mass transportation these days. The masses are squished into tiny seats in the back of the plane. Their luggage is confiscated because the bins are full. Families have to pay up-charges for the privilege of sitting together. And for most folks, the ticket prices are too expensive. Too bad no one predicted we would have high-speed rail by now.

I probably didn't follow rules for playing Futurevision. They weren't in the drawer with the cards. So I played the game my way. Just wish a couple of these visions had actually happened.