The brave new world your kids will live in

Future cityMargaret is growing up in a very different world than the one in which I grew up. If you’re a parent of a teen, you probably feel the same way. Just yesterday morning we heard a flurry of news about flying cars and automakers like Volvo planning for a 2023 timeline. Driverless car advances also came up. As a former private pilot, I love the concept of a flying car. But it’s with mixed emotions that I imagine a world with driverless cars, despite how much I lament driving in Southern California. I turned to Margaret and said, “Wow, you may be the last generation that gets driver’s licenses!”

Technology has dramatically changed almost all aspects of our lives, from how we communicate and socialize to how we experience the world. It’s made the world smaller in many ways, I suspect because we are able to see more deeply into other people’s lives in a way we couldn’t before.

Lately, I’ve been mulling over some of the ways that my world as a youth – that is, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s – is wildly different from that of my 13-year old daughter’s world. Here are a few:

Tattoos

When I was growing up, if you had a tattoo, you  raised eyebrows. There was a huge stigma associated with people who had tattoos back then. It definitely was not widely accepted, and when we as kids saw someone who had a tattoo, it was kind of like seeing an alien land in your backyard; you were transfixed but also a bit scared he was Charlie Manson (who is apparently not doing so well of late). It just wasn’t something you saw every day. And when you did, you’d wonder if that person just got out of prison, was in the military, or joined a hard rock band. Today, Americans spend over $1.6 million dollars on tattoos and it’s regarded as an art form to many. Though it is interesting that some people I know in client-facing industries hide their tattoos while at work. I guess some stigmas never go away completely.

Colored Hair streaks

There was always that misunderstood soul or two in high school each year who dyed her or his hair blue or red. Or green. Or chartreuse. The first time you saw a kid who did that was kind of like watching two animals at the zoo mate. You were fascinated but you also shook your head in disbelief – but you kept staring. You heard people say things like, “That poor kid, his parents must ignore him.” Because nobody could understand why anyone would want to have hair a color other than blond or brown. Many of these kids were just mimicking punk fashion; and yes, they wanted to be different. Today, my 70-year old neighbor has blue streaks – and it’s not because her hair is so white it looks blue. She gets it streaked. From toddlers to the elderly, colored hair streaks have reached a tipping point so if you’re doing it for attention, unfortunately you’re very late to the party.

Marijuana

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. If you wanted to smoke pot, you pretty much knew which group to hang out with. Guessing it wasn’t the same everywhere because when I got to college, I was surprised that so many students were just experiencing with pot for the first times. Regardless, it was rare to smell marijuana when out in public. When you did, it was kind of like finding a $10 bill in the pocket of your jeans that you’d forgotten about. And you’re looking around like crazy, trying to identify the source by following your nose. Today, you get whiff of pot at Disneyland, Target…even in the police station parking lot. That’s because marijuana is now legal in California, something many of us have always been in favor of (never bought the whole ‘slippery slope’ argument and have always felt that alcohol is much more dangerous).

I can’t really think of anything that is taboo today that I want to transform our culture in the future. Well maybe one thing: cheap labor. 82277486 - housemaid cleaning robot character vector illustration i If Margaret’s kids are anything like her, I really hope it’s affordable and effective to buy a MaidBot.

Because she’ll need at least one.


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