A few days into the fresh start that a new year seems to offer, I want to look both back and forward. Living in the present is the healthiest way to spend our time. Even so, there is value in thinking about the totality of our life; it seems especially appropriate as we flip the calendar, both literally and figuratively.
Let me use the idea of a time capsule for this post and see where it takes us. Imagine I am about to select things to put in a box to hold items or descriptions of ideas and concepts that someone decades into the future would dig up.
Would they get a solid grasp of my life and what I thought was important? Or would they shake their head and wonder why I picked what I did? Why did my time in history identify these things worthy of highlighting and saving? How much had human history changed in those intervening years?
Ask me these questions fifteen years ago, and I am sure things like CDs or DVDs would have been included Social media was just being born, so a copy of the Facebook or Twitter logo would not have crossed my mind. What’s a social influencer? Not on the radar yet.
What is MAGA? What does “election denier” even mean? Oh, was that the Bush-Gore situation in 2000? That had no lasting effect on our behavior at the polls, so it must mean something different. TikTok? Is that some sort of clock reference? What in heaven’s name is a “smartphone?”
The point is that time, even short periods, rapidly changes our world, our language, our daily life, and our politics. What should go into a time capsule today that will make any sense to people 100 or 150 years from now? How do I capture even a small sense of what life was like in America in 2023?
In no particular order, here’s what might be included:
* The previously mentioned smartphone. Few pieces of technology have changed our daily lives, culture, communication, and what gets us into trouble as much as the modern cellphone. It has disrupted lives, the political landscape, human communication, family dynamics, and certainly economics. It has been a tremendously positive tool in tying us all together while simultaneously tearing us apart and emphasizing our differences.
* Print Newspapers and printed books. It would surprise me if printed materials survived for another hundred years into the future. The cost and the use of natural resources to produce something that is easily available digitally means printed forms of communication will become something found in a museum. Future generations will wonder about our holding a 400-page novel in our hands.
* The Bible and The Koran. Religious beliefs have been responsible for much of our development of language, common rules of conduct, and how we think about the past and future. Unfortunately, they have also been the driving force behind many of our most violent conflicts. Those who identify themselves as secular, rather than holding any particular belief system, are rapidly increasing as a percentage of the population. In 100 years, when this time capsule is open, will these two texts still hold sway over tens of millions?
* A few books (or digital files) and stories about climate change and its effect on the planet. What will the planet’s climate look like this far into the future? Will people have adapted to the changes we predict coming, or will they have managed to rein in the causes enough to make the entire issue more of an academic subject? A few references from the past will help the future “us” understand how we approached this critical problem.
* A can of motor oil and a piece of coal. Will the use of fossil fuels be seen as an unfortunate period in history? Will people have found some other use for these products? Will they even recognize a lump of coal?
* A small, portable solar panel. I will assume that decades into the future solar power in all sorts of forms will be as commonplace as the corner gas station once was. How will our early attempts to harness the sun’s power be seen?
* A list of all the streaming, satellite, and cable TV channels reflecting what passed for mass entertainment during our time. There are two possibilities. All these entertainment options will amaze future people with how we chose to spend big chunks of our time. Or, what we think of endless options will have just been the beginning of a process where entertainment, education, and leisure activities are implanted into our bodies via a miniature chip of some kind.
* Face Mask and hand sanitizer. Here is hoping that these two remnants of the Covid period are historical relics and not part of everyday life a hundred years into our future. But, few events have had a more telling impact on the life and experiences of humans in the 2020s.
What have I missed? What belongs in your time capsule?
Image and article originally from satisfyingretirement.blogspot.com. Read the original article here.