One of the most interesting things about loose time is that, while it gives you a good look at the past, it can also give you a few insights about the future. This isn’t anything “psychic”, of course...It’s merely the capability to observe trends and draw inferences from them.
Of course, trends aren’t laws, as Malthus unwittingly proved. That being said, barring a catastrophic change, you can make educated guesses between now, and a certain point in the future at which the errors in your data compound to the point at which your guesses become meaningless. This point is called “the singularity” (Sorry, hippies, that IS the definition of the singularity...No AI Jesus for you.), and - due to the increasing rate of technological development - that point gets closer to the present every day.
So let’s talk about this.
We’ll begin with things we know from history that have remained fairly constant. We can assume that war, greed, lust, and apathy will always be with us, as there has been no change in their frequency in recorded history (In fact, Jerry Pournelle insists that peace is a fallacy that we develop because there are sometimes interludes between wars). So we assume these things will be just as prevalent in the future.
Next, we identify trends that change society at a slow - but steady - pace. This is the trickiest part of the equation...For example, many people believe that criminals are getting more violent. That is of course, rubbish. Criminals have become less violent over the last few hundred years. It’s just that the general population has become less violent at a faster rate. Proof of this can be obtained by examining old news and court records. Example: While considered awful at the time, people running loose with Thompson submachine guns wasn’t considered particularly odd in America between the two world wars.
The Pax Americana (in this case, the peace inside America) has, for the last hundred years or so, caused Americans to become more peaceful, and more docile. With the lack of a credible outside threat, and extreme prosperity inside the national boundaries, the normal drives for dominance have become subverted into drives for wealth, status, etc.
Another trend that is slowly changing the country is the rising of the average life expectancy. We live healthier than people did 500 years ago, we have modern medicine, and we have PILLS HERE to blunt the stress levels that - combined with the other mentioned effects - tended to knock people off in their 40s, back in the year dot.
So, life has become longer, healthier (barring obesity), and safer...And, I might add, life in America has FAR more leisure time than any other place or time in history.
The next thing we need to look at is rapid trends. These are fairly obvious...Technology in all of its aspects is now progressing so fast that people can only keep up in very narrow specialties, and the vast bulk of the population has no idea how their toys and gizmos work...Because when they stop working, they just chuck the doodad in the trash and get a new one.
The most important impact is in information technology. People no longer have access to the information they want or need, so much as they are bombarded non-stop with more information - good and bad - than any person is equipped to deal with. People haven’t changed in their ability to process information, but the amount of information they receive each day is several orders of magnitude higher than it was, just 35 years ago.
People can’t possibly process that information, so advertisers have come upon the brilliant idea of selling memes first, then simply attaching the memes to the products they wish to sell. You will then ignore other signals to buy their product, as you feel emotionally attached to it.
Consider, for example, the jingle for Bluebell Ice Cream:
Blue Bell homemade ice cream
it's homemade country style
it's the ice cream on the cake
the cream of the crop
the tip of the top
like having your own ice cream shop
blue bell homemade ice cream
homemade country style
blue bell, made with a country smile
This is sung in such a bland manner as to prevent most people from actually paying attention to it, yet I could remember the lyrics without Googling it, and I haven’t heard the ad in a couple of years. Notice a few things that are included.
First, it references “homemade” multiple times, though it’s obviously not homemade. This is designed to evoke memories of a childhood that most people never had, but desperately want...A stable home where mom makes delicious things from scratch.
Second, it then associates “homemade” with “country”, which evokes in most people the (mistaken) impression that country living is simpler, safer, and less stressful.
Third, it associates both of those images with the old ice cream shops of small town America, back in the 50s and 60s, an era most people (again, incorrectly) view as America’s golden age.
So you’re walking in the store, and you decide to get some ice cream. There’s the store brand, in its bland box, and then there’s Bluebell, in a cheerful white & blue box. Between the appearance, and the memes implanted in your head by a jingle you may not even remember, you’ll pay the extra buck and buy Bluebell.
Note that this is different from “subliminals”, which I have yet to see any evidence of that suggests they may work. This is repetitive conditioning that can run for years.
Most important note: Using memes to sell things works, and it’s cheap.
Similar conditioning has been used to project the “real man” image on the Republican party. Compassion is for sissies, and may the devil take the hindmost. And the majority of people they’ve sold this to are poor (more about this in another paper).
So let’s review:
Greed is a human constant. People live longer, and have more leisure time. Ad making companies are using very solidly grounded and functional memetic engineering to embed their ideas and/or products in peoples’ heads. This is stacked upon the rest of the barrage of information we aren’t equipped to deal with. More information = more stress. More stress means more self-imposed filters, usually of the chemical and/or religious kind.
So I bring you the future: 98% just like it is today, but with a brain-smashed population doped to the gills with PILLS HERE and increasingly irrational religious beliefs, who buy and do things they are emotionally programmed to buy or do.
Of course, there’s a way to work around this (At least on an individual basis), but that will have to wait for another day.
Okay for now,