What Are We Wrong About?

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love history.

I was a journalism major at OU, but I took so many history electives that when I met with my advisor before the start of my senior year, I asked her what I needed to do to get a minor in history.

“Hold on, let me look,” she said. After a minute of keyboard pounding, she looked up and said, “You’ve already met all the requirements. You just need to declare it.” I stood up, pointed my index finger into the sky and said, “I declare it!”

One of the things I enjoy about history is seeing the evolution of theology, products, architecture, etc. over time.

The past 150 years have brought about unprecedented growth in technology and medicine. Just think — in 1870 there was no such thing as a light bulb and “doctors” used leeches to let “poisonous” blood out of people who were sick with a wide array of ailments.

Even when humans get something right, we can go too far. The X-ray was invented in 1895, but within a decade or two it was being used on healthy people’s feet to determine their shoe size. Then those same people started getting cancer.

It’s easy to laugh at things like bloodletting and X-raying healthy feet, but we have to remember that those people were operating with the best knowledge they had at the time — just like we do today. In 100 or 200 years, what will people be laughing at us about?

The coronavirus situation this year is what got me thinking about this topic. For awhile, it seemed like the story changed every day. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, actually do wear a mask. We need ventilators, we’re out of ventilators, do ventilators really help?

Now that we’re several months into it, the story is only changing every week instead of every day. Still, it’s interesting to see people jumping on that day’s information like it’s the gospel truth — or ignoring it entirely if it doesn’t fit their political ideals — only to have a whole new set of data come out 24 hours later.

I don’t pretend to know the end result of this deal. I do believe we will come up with an effective vaccine and that this will be but a blip in the road of history. But I could be completely wrong.

In the year 2200, what will our descendants have to say about our generation?

People my age or thereabouts have lived through the beginnings of a technological revolution. I grew up with landlines, dial-up (read: slow-ass) internet, cassette tapes and a VCR. Things are only going to advance from here.

Here are my half-baked predictions.

  • Instead of complicated tax codes, credit card gouging and bank accounts, everyone will have one “bank account,” operating in a global currency like Bitcoin. Taxes, loans, deposits and purchases will all flow in and out of this account. You won’t use a card to access this but rather a chip planted under your skin. This will also contain your ID/passport so you won’t have to carry that around. Regardless, I think future generations will be appalled by how complicated our current system is.
  • I don’t have a good guess as to what it will look like but I’m already surprised we haven’t found a faster mode of daily transportation than cars. I picture a Jetsons-like situation with “highways” in the air, except the vehicles won’t look like traditional cars and different altitudes could exist for different speeds of travel and “exits.” Regardless, I think future generations will be appalled by how inefficient and harmful to the environment our cars were.
  • I think we will figure out a universal healthcare system that gives everyone a basic standard of care. There is enough money on the earth to take care of the essential needs of everyone without making rich people poor, and this will be a crowning achievement for the generation that installs it.
  • We will make a collective interpretation of when life begins and use it to draw a line on when women’s rights end and human rights begin. Everyone (except maybe a fringe element that doesn’t count) believes women have the right to control their own bodies. Everyone believes it’s not ok to take someone else’s life. We’ve been over-complicating this issue. At what point does human life begin? Whenever that is, another person doesn’t get to unilaterally decide to end that life. Seems logical to me that it begins with a heartbeat, since that’s how we define the end of life. But maybe people will decide it’s a different time. Regardless, I think future generations will look at this the way we look at slavery, wondering how society allowed this to exist and call it progress.
  • A sport that hasn’t been invented yet will surpass hockey and baseball in popularity. In 1920, boxing, baseball and horse racing were the most popular sports in America. Only one of those remain in the top three, and it’s hanging on by a thread. I’d bet on basketball remaining very popular, since it’s the easiest game for anyone to find a place to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if football’s health risks relegate it to niche status eventually, but now it’s so popular that it will take awhile to knock it off the pedestal. Baseball has been trending the wrong way for years and shows no signs of bouncing back to top-tier status. I don’t know what the new sport looks like or will be called, but if basketball and football can rise from nothing to the top in 180 years, so can another new sport. Heck, maybe it’ll be an old sport like lacrosse making a revival. It has good gambling/fantasy potential and it’s really fun and fast-paced to watch.
  • Religious beliefs of any kind will be mocked by mainstream society. I don’t really need to add any commentary here. This is the way things have been trending my whole life, so it isn’t exactly a bold prediction. But religion dates back as far as humanity itself, and while I don’t think it will ever disappear, it’s weird to see it being pushed to the margins like it has been.

What do you think the people of 2200 will think of us? What areas of society will be drastically different? Which of my predictions do you think are as foolish as bloodletting? Leave a comment so I can delete it and block you if I don’t like it. That’s the way we roll in 2020. (Just kidding I won’t do that. Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts!)

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