Nine years into the Twenty-First Century and I’m beginning to suspect all that sci-fi I consumed as a young lad was lying to me. By now I was certain we’d be travelling everywhere in anti-gravity or at least pneumatic tubes, police would zap everyone with stun lasers before putting them in suspended animation and fashion would have resolved itself into one of two choices: a snazzy jumpsuit and bootees for the men or strategically placed scraps of tin foil for the ladies.
Where are the teleports? Where are the food synthesisers? Where, indeed, are the hover cars?
Most days I forget we’re actually living in the Twenty-First Century. Most days I catch myself talking about the Twentieth Century and having to correct myself.
Except, a week or so ago, whilst emerging from the non-pneumatic type of tube* at Victoria I was suddenly and amazingly reminded we’re living in the brave new age.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t the fact most of us carry a piece of technology in our pockets which can transmit live video signals to anybody, anywhere on the planet; access the sum total of human knowledge at the press of a button and pinpoint our exact location to within a few feet via satellite telemetry (and then tell us where the nearest McDonalds is) … and still be small enough to fit into a cigarette packet. No. That, for some reason, doesn’t feel like Twenty-First Century technology – it’s too familiar. It’s amazing, but it’s an everyday type of amazing. Like toasters or cat-flaps. I’m used to those particular scientific miracles.
No, the thing which reminded me I now live in the future is the advertising coming up the escalators – they’re all TVs. No more posters covered in chewing gum, nowadays the urgent need to buy crap you don’t want is instilled in you by moving images.
Yes, I’ve seen them before – but not that often. I got unlimited access to porn on my phone a few years ago and have barely noticed anything since. It’s something which always catches me by surprise (the TVs, not the porn. Very little porn is surprising anymore. Oh he’s putting it there, is he? Yawn.) and gives me that delightful little shudder.
We may still be barely more than monkeys in trousers knocking the hell out of each other for believing in the wrong invisible space ghost, but damn it, we can make TVs cheap enough and sturdy enough to sell us crap whilst we’re being too lazy to use the stairs.
Truly we live in a wondrous world.
*Did you know the London Underground did trial a pneumatic version of the tube? It didn’t last very long because the mice kept nibbling at the leather needed to maintain an airtight seal, but it was the first alternative considered to the original steam engines.
Or something like that. Maybe I dreamt that bit.