How's this for making us '80s kids feel old -- 2011 is only four years away from the hoverboarding world of 2015 "Back To The Future II" predicted for us way back in 1989. Ye gods. No hoverboards but tons of iPods and iPads and iThings. (Further Future Shock amusement: 11 predictions BTTF2 got right, and 11 predictions BTTF2 got wrong.)
I turn 40 this year, too, which is a really weird thing to see on the horizon -- on 11/11/11, no less. My wee boy is nearly 7 and about to enter Year 3 at school. I sort of feel like my entire 30s whooshed by in a blur of babies, newspapers and moves. I moved from California to Oregon to New Zealand, had a high-energy kid, and I guess that accounts for that blurry feeling as we enter 2011. Where did the 2000s go?
The world young Peter is growing up in may not have hoverboards and flying cars (yet) but it is very different. P will never know a pre-digital world without the internet, texting, Facebooks, iPods and the like -- he will assume knowledge is all out there instantly, without having to dig around in libraries, just a click or two away (the other day he asked about what eels eat, then said "I guess we can just look it up on the internet").
As Arcade Fire sang in last year's song, "We Used To Wait":
"I used to write,
I used to write letters I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain"
It's a world where you're never out of touch if you don't want to be, where you don't sit around waiting for weeks for a letter from an old friend you've been wanting to hear from. Just send a Facebook message.
... Not that I'm gonna turn into one of those cranky old geezers complaining about the way things ain't the way they once was. The world of 2011 brings us many wonderful things that make it possible for the world to seem bigger and yet closer than ever before. But it's interesting, now that we're actually IN the future of 2011, how different from what we once imagined and yet how futuristic it actually is when you think about it.