The past is another country. Only that can be said of the future too. The difference is a record book. Behind us we have the chronicles, from the first written words to this next key I’m about to tap. In front of us spreads a great deal of uncertainty.
What’s with the gloom and doom? Media of all kinds seems to bathe in a pool of pessimism. I can hear Creedence Clearwater Revival singing Bad Moon Rising in the background. Despite climate change, economic downturns, war, and recovery from a pandemic no one was prepared for, this is a good time to be alive. We are a long way from the end of days. Or at least I hope we are.
In so far as fiction is concerned, I love a good dystopia. Unfortunately, some of the movies on this theme are quite ridiculous or dammed right annoying. The Day After Tomorrow is a bucket load of piety and the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still has me throwing things at the TV.
Last night, I tried to get through the first half of a more recent movie called Reminiscence. It does amaze me that what must have seemed like such good ideas on paper can be transformed, at great expense, into a relatively average film. Yes, we are going to have to cope with rising sea levels and it will change the way people live.
What I’m addressing is the assertion made by a journalist who covers the cultural effect of science and technology. It’s basically, that all this focus on the end of the world stuff stops us from planning a positive future. I can quite understand the basis for such a proposition.
Dare I make a HHGTTG reference? Well, I’m going to anyway. It’s that society collapses if we spend all day looking at our feet, or to be more precise our shoes. Looking down all the time is equated with being depressed about the future. That leads to people buying more colourful shoes to cheer themselves up. Eventually, that process gets out of control and civilization collapses.
For someone like me who has spent a lot of time looking at accidents and incidents in the aviation world, I’m not on-side with the notion that bad news leads to gloominess and then immobility. I guess it does for some people. For me, it’s almost the reverse.
What we learn from disasters and calamities is of great benefit. It stops us from making the same mistakes time and time again. Now, I know that doesn’t last forever. Human memory is not like a machine recording. We are incredibly selective (hence films like Reminiscence).
In my mind, none of this persistent immersion in stories with bad outcomes stops us from planning. To be positive, it stops us taking our plans for what we can do into the realms of pure fantasy. Or at least it should.