THE FUTURE IS DEAD
It was a strange death. We killed it ourselves: first, slowly, during many years, with the quiet kiss of stagnation and expectation decline, and then, all of a sudden with a fast blade made of a thousand black mirrors, poisonous news and the most brutal images of climate change.
Perhaps this death is best felt when we think of the word ‘futuristic’. In many ways, the word doesn’t even describe the future anymore, but is a relic of a time when people still cared about flying cars. An aesthetic from the stolen 80s, made of silver skyscrapers and hot female robots, that now some try to revitalize by adding to it some plants and calling it ‘solarpunk’. A utopian vision, they say, as if all a utopia needed was simply a new aesthetic. And hey, I appreciate the effort. But is that the best we can do? Where have the real utopias gone, the ones that try to answer to the deeper yearnings of our soul? Have we really killed them all?
The future is dead, and it’s dystopia that has taken its place. It looms far and wide, terrifying children and adults alike. We should not underestimate the effects that this has: it’s not just children with nightmares, it’s not just adults without children, it’s a whole population under anesthesia. Because why dare look, if the image is so painful? Why dare move, if the path is already doomed?
Better shitpost your brains out. Clog every thought and every feeling with so much irony that reality starts to fade away. Deconstruct everything, until the only thing left is the emptiness of the intellect. Resent everything and call it being educated. Believe in nothing and call it being edgy. Critique for the elite, lols for the people. Nothingness for all.
Too hungry for the emptiness? Too old to use humor as a cope? No worries, you’ll always have The Hustle, now coming in The Disruption Edition! Forget Wall Street and climbing the career ladder, there’s a whole new world of opportunity at the end of history: Buy crypto, follow the gold rush. Learn how to code, disrupt yourself or die. Or become an influencer and let the algorithm control your life while you turn your existence into an ad.
Or simply avoid reality, go full YOLO, live your life. The state of the world might look grim, but not so much when you have brunch, cheap flights, and infinite entertainment on demand. Exotic destinations, eternal nightclubs. The promised land of abundance, best enjoyed one festival at a time. Sounds shallow? Worry not, you can always sprinkle some yoga and meditation on top and make it feel like you’re actually saving the world.
Late modernity, smash.
Perhaps some of you might be feeling skeptical, you might think that it’s ‘not that bad’. And here’s the thing: you’re right, it’s not. And that’s precisely the point, the trap that conceals the most dangerous weapon. Because if it was that bad, maybe we would take to the streets, we’d create awareness campaigns, documentaries, help centers and political parties. We’d fight back.
Instead, under the excuse of ‘it’s not that bad’ we’re quietly drowning in a sea of mediocrity. We keep lowering the bar so much that we forget what ‘really good’ feels like. Under the excuse of ‘it’s not that bad’, we keep feeding a parasite that will kill us before we can even realize we’re hurt. We resign to living with lives half lived and a broken sense of possibility, we dismiss a whole world of opportunities for beauty and meaning.
Under the excuse of ‘it’s not that bad’, we hide the greatest sin of all.
A NEW HOPE
The landscape might look dark, and yet, I see hope. It's a special type of hope. This hope isn’t about a new technology that promises to change everything, an enlightened leader or a savior ideology. It’s about a feeling.
Most of us have felt it. Perhaps in front of the grandiosity of nature, the sublime beauty of the right art piece, or the transcendence of certain achievements. Maybe in the ecstasy of a rave or the togetherness of a protest, in a true moment of intimacy, or in that peak-trip clarity. Some people will feel it in the moments where we made history, like in the first times where we ventured into space. Many other times we’ll find it in the most ordinary ways: while losing ourselves in our favorite song or when having breakfast with a dear friend; admiring a well placed ray of light, or while working on a side project that makes us feel energized.
In all those instants where even if brief, we feel that all is good and everything is possible. In all those hidden intuitions that tell us that there must be something more.
We all feel these moments sometimes. A glimpse of something different. Something beautiful, something true.
You see, for me, the biggest tragedy of humanity is not ‘the original sin’, ‘misaligned incentives’ or even ‘universal suffering’, but the moment we accepted that that wasn’t the color or texture that life is supposed to be like.
That is the moment where we chained ourselves to grayness. The moment we started to believe that life is meant to be endured, not enjoyed. That humans are mediocre at best and monsters in potentia at worst, that we have to put up with work we don’t like and relationships that don’t fulfill us, and that our best bet to change things is going back to a glorified past or a future where everything stays the same but we get solar rooftops and diverse CEOs.
I refuse to accept defeat. We can’t change the past, but we can create a new future. We are living in the age of abundance and interconnectivity after all, we have the most powerful tools in history and access to all of the world’s information. And even with distracting phones and an outdated education system, a creative, curious and sharp mind is still the hallmark of humankind.
We don’t lack the talent or the resources, we lack the imagination to dream for more and the ambition to not settle for less.
My hope then lies in a simple question:
What if we didn’t? What if we did not accept defeat? What if we refused to be crushed by our own imagination, what if we dared to ask for more?
Imagine how that new world would look like. Imagine all the possibilities that shift would unlock, all the beauty, all the meaning, the greatness and the achievement it could bring. A future of possibility where a thousand different utopias could bloom.
And if this sounds like a naive vision or a faraway dream, to me, and to some other few, that’s a reality that is already here. We found it in a new game that we’re excited to play on the grand scale, a game that might provide the map that will help us build the future we want.
Ready player one?