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What will future be like? The pros and cons of the futurism in our society

Over thirty years ago we used to hear that Brazil was a country of the youngest population and that they were the “future”, or the amazing future that would come to us as in a touch of magic.

The time and circumstances were quite diverse from nowadays. The country was under military rule, there were not too much freedom of expression – if there was some – and as a consequence the rulers had to feed people with hope of a better perspective.


Without going deeper on the political side of this issue, what this article aims to discuss is the concept of future not only in Brazil but elsewhere.

This short introduction was meant only to highlight the importance of the matter.

Certainly, you may have already heard expressions such as:

* Kids are the country’s or the world’s future;
* The house of the future;
* The car of the future;
* The school or the education of the future;
* The cities of the future and so on and on and on.

The concept of a modern, high tech and “futuristic” society got stronger specially during the mid 20th century onward mainly due to the wonder caused by the number year 2000.

However, as that time was so far away it easily created an utopia that just by magic everything would be dramatically different from how it had been up to then and we would experience huge transformations in many fields.

Nevertheless, as the year 2000 approached, a slight feeling of disappointment grew in our society because the shock of reality showed to people that things would not be the way some “predicted” it would be or “expected to”.

I do not question the value and importance of positive thinking.

I agree that the belief of a better future, of better perspectives and improved possibilities carries a strong fuel to move people forward and promote changes. There is no doubt about that.

However, what I think people usually do not think over properly is what the future really is? How future this “future time” is?

In a straightforward way, the word future can be defined as any moment from now on.

So, consider the previous examples given on the beginning of this article and let’s review them:

* Kids are the country’s or the world’s future. So what? How long have you been hearing this same speech? Five years, ten years, thirty years?

I am sure that this has been around for many, many years.

The question is: how many nations have succeeded in this field? Very few, for not say none of them.

If politicians in many nations took it seriously, we would not hear or read about so many juvenile exploitation (be it working at an early age or even worse, the prostitution or illegal “international children trade”); the illiterate rate would have dropped dramatically all over the world because who was a child 15, 20 or 30 years ago, now is an adult and he/she should be better prepared to face today’s challenges. But unfortunately, that is not the case.

There are still a large number of illiterate people in many nations even though around three decades ago some predicted that in the future this misdeed would be something of the past.

* The house of the future. How different is your house now compared to what it looked like two decades ago? There must be new furniture, improved electrical appliances and some other comfort items. But in essence, is it really dramatically different?

How many people can afford a house managed by voice command or by a mobile PDA for example? Very few. Even on the wealthiest nations.

As a general rule, the majority of the houses are still made of bricks and mortars and everybody lives on planet earth. People living in space seem to be a possibility still quite distant from actual reality.

* Almost the same can be said about cars. For sure we have experienced a huge progress in quality, features and technology over the last decades, but there is nobody driving flying cars and the vast majority of them are still fuelled by petrol.

Extensive researches have been conducted over the years in order to develop alternative power sources such as alcohol, solar cells, electricity and even water but they are usually seem as “alternatives” or a second choice rather than real substitutes.

* What regards the schools or the education of the future I think that is one of the most delicate areas because what can be considered as such? What the proposal really is? What are the real and deep differences between today’s classes and those of 30, 50 or even 100 years ago in its core?

There has been changes on the resources available (boards, furniture and the introduction of computers in the classrooms), installations and ambient.

However, the primary kind of classes is based on lectures held by the teachers.

It does not mean whatsoever that this is a bad or inefficient way of teaching. I am just highlighting that his methodology is still predominant.

Even among education specialists there is no agreement about what the best model or methodology would be.

* What about the concept of cities of the future? There have been so many visions and interpretations of that by architects, urban planners, sociologists, anthropologists and experts in general that it would require a book to name them all.

But just as the “house of the future” previously discussed, our cities instead of offering better and improved living conditions to its people, face ever increasing problems such as over population, traffic jams, pollution, house shortage, increasing cost of living, violence and so on.

What can be draw from the discussed matters is that it seems that there is a kind of what I call “futurism behaviour” in our society.

Once again I say that project the future for sure is a valid and important exercise in our society. The majority of the things we have available today we owe to those dreamers of the past.

Nevertheless, what I realise is that sometimes our society spend too much energy into that and leave the present in the background.

There are a number of issues that need and demand to be addressed here and now rather than “in the future”.

So, the final message is to shift the focus to the present without loosing future out of sight, but dealing with what needs an attention at this very moment otherwise we face the risk of wonder that everything will be automatically sorted out in the future just as a wizard touch of magic.

Life is happening at this very moment and if it is not given the appropriate attention there will be no future to think of but just the past to call up.
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