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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

Alt Writer’s Auld Lang Syne

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: New Year’s resolutions, predictions, future, environment, Douglas Coupland, Keith Goetzman,

Crystal ball 

Hope and happiness are mainstays of new year’s greetings and resolutions. Here is a more, um, nuanced view of times ahead from novelist Douglas Coupland. These are among 45 tips from “A Radical Pessimist’s Guide to the Next 10 Years,” published in the Toronto Globe & Mail:

It’s going to get worse. No silver linings and no lemonade. The elevator only goes down. The bright note is that the elevator will, at some point, stop.

The future isn't going to feel futuristic. It’s simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn’t feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

The middle class is over. It’s not coming back. Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day? That’s where all the other jobs that once made us middle class are going—to that same, magical, class-killing, job-sucking wormhole into which travel-agency jobs vanished, never to return. However, this won’t stop people from self-identifying as middle class, and as the years pass we’ll be entering a replay of the antebellum South, when people defined themselves by the social status of their ancestors three generations back. Enjoy the new monoclass!

Expect less. Not zero, just less.

Enjoy lettuce while you still can. And anything else that arrives in your life from a truck, for that matter. For vegetables, get used to whatever it is they served in railway hotels in the 1890s. Jams. Preserves. Pickled everything.

Even dystopian futuristic writers have their “up” moments, though, and Coupland lets a few rays of techo-optimism shine into his dark world. So we’ll leave you with this brighter prediction:

Something smarter than us is going to emerge. Thank you, algorithms and cloud computing. 

Source: Globe & Mail 

Image by Sudhamshu, licensed under Creative Commons.