The Future Picked Out For Us (TQP #0016)

Posted: May 22, 2008 in Jeff Holland
Tags: , ,

Posted By Jeff Holland

Queen of Dirt Jaime pointed me to a Threadless shirt that reads, “They lied to us,” and then goes down the list of space-age stuff, like rocket packs and food-pills, that we never got. And of course, yeah, who wouldn’t want them? “Where’s My Fucking Jetpack?” may be the rallying protest shout of the disenfranchised futurist. But the ultimate lesson to walk away with is that no one can predict the look of the future.

A recent study in a European journal tested the effects of diesel exhaust on the human brain (using actual human volunteers, which is a rare opportunity). It will shock absolutely nobody to learn that the effects are Not Good.

In essence, even a short burst of exposure, about the same as you’d find on a busy road or in a garage, can raise the oxidative stress levels of the brain’s cortex. Those stress levels remained high in the subjects even after they left the test chamber.

Oxidative stress in the brain has also been implicated in degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

And the greenhouse effect is such that we are subjected to these nanoparticles over and over, every single day. This is our life. This is normalcy for us – breathing in the castoff, poisonous crap of the 20th century.

The automobile may arguably have been the greatest invention of the 20th century, because it changed everything. It dictated how we navigate our own geography, allowed us to move greater loads for longer distances at faster speeds, and permanently ingrained itself symbolically in our American culture. In no uncertain terms, the automobile was a benefit.

Except for its one massive, essential design flaw: its power source. Which is apparently crippling our brains.

Any sane society, upon realizing its devastating toll on our environment and our health, would have said, “Well, shit. We’ve got to figure out a way around this.” Except our society is run by a government inextricably tied to the needs and goals of the companies charged with producing this power source.

So here’s the 21st century we get to live in: A country with nearly unlimited access to information, whose citizens’ brains are being choked by the toxic farts of a beast it created a century earlier. And its government needs to perpetuate the toxicity to keep the beast’s masters happy, or risk crushing the global economy.

Despite what it may sound like, I’m not a pessimist. We beat polio and smallpox. We can initiate instantaneous global communications via electric impulses. We can microwave a turkey in 20 minutes.

We can turn this around. Of this, I am certain.

Nevertheless, my point remains: just because the residents of 1950’s America hoped for flying cars doesn’t mean they should have expected it as an inevitability. And they shouldn’t have foisted that expectation on us.

Nobody gets to pick their future. Time and consequence ensure that the future gets picked for us.

But I’m sure nobody would have imagined that the future that we earned was so clearly a dystopia. Not the Orwell version we grew up fearing, no.

We don’t get to pick the future we dread, either.

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