Every online columnist– and there are thousands of them, because everyone with access to a typewriter now considers himself a journalist– has been whining about the disappointments of the previous decade (2000-2009, even though decades begin at the 1-mark, but don’t get me started).
I already know what’s going to happen over the next ten years, give or take, so pour yourselves some stale eggnog and read what you have to look forward to.
1. THE TELEPHONE. These will be simple machines molded in an unobtrusive black color, equipped with a hand-held speaking module attached to a base by a three-foot long wire. When someone needs to talk to you, it will ring; you will be charged for talking via increments called “message units.” The wire will prevent you from wandering too far and getting into mischief, like pileups on the freeway, and the expense will preclude any long, boring, meaningless conversations.
2. THE RECORD PLAYER. This ingenious device will allow you to play music that has been pressed into flattened, vinyl discs; large discs with twelve songs on them will be called “albums,” and small discs featuring only two songs will be known as “singles.” You will be listening to the music in the same room in which the record player is located, and occasionally someone will ask you to “turn down the volume.” The coverings of these albums and singles will feature large photos of the recording artist, along with detailed information about their musical career.
3. THE LIBRARY. Libraries will be large buildings located in the downtown neighborhoods of cities and towns, and they will be represented in outlying areas called “satellites.” Here you will be able to look up any fact or reference in history simply by driving or walking there, parking, and looking up the books you need in conveniently-placed “card catalogues,” which will direct you to the proper section within minutes. Helpful, learned assistants will be nearby in case you don’t know the name of an author or the title of a book, and they will be able to steer you through an ingenious Subject Catalogue. Libraries will be filled with books from wall to wall, and you will be able to spend an infinite amount of time in them… ALL FOR FREE.
4. PRIVATE SCHOOL BUSES. Looking somewhat like trucks, these large vehicles will be used to transport children to and from private schools, exactly like children in public schools are. In fact, they will be exactly the same, and will succeed in replacing single vehicles containing one small child and its Mommy with one vehicle containing fifty children and their driver. Now these Mommies, safely off the highways at nine in the morning, can while away that hour talking to one another and exchanging recipes on their telephones– and REALLY helping to save the environment that they are so earnestly concerned about.
5. TELEGRAMS. Special shops conveniently located almost everywhere will enable a sender to enter and then dictate a message to a clerk who will send it on to a recipient within an hour, either via mail on paper or via signals by telegraph. Messages will be necessarily short, as they will be charged by the word. Senders will naturally be required to send telegrams only to announce auspicious events– BABY ARRIVED THIS PM 7 LB 6 OZ; UNCLE HENRY PASSED AT NOON SEND DONATION TO HEART FUND– as it is hoped that the system will not be overloaded by unnecessary verbiage– AM AT STORE NEED ANYTHING; JUST WOKE UP AND HAVING COFFEE.
Wouldn’t it be great if all these predictions came true? At the rate that technology is moving, don’t be surprised if you find yourself talking on the telephone before the end of the year (and rumor has it that they’ll be available in colors other than black). Meanwhile, have a safe and happy 2010– and welcome to the future!