As we stand at the edge of tomorrow – looking in to the future – what do we see?
In the first half of 2020, the world looks like it is a volatile landscape. As a collective, We have to navigate Pandemics, Climate Change, Systemic Racism, and the threat of another global Recession; to name just a few trials. The terrain is rough and the instability fuels a great feeling of uncertainty!
Yet, we must remain positive!
My favourite genre of fiction is ‘Dystopia’ – it’s a pessimistic genre to fall in love with and often doesn’t fill a reader with much hope – unless one knows where to look for it!
A Dystopian world is one in which the community or society is undesirable or frightening – right now, this fantasy world doesn’t seem so far from reality.
I know that this is not the ‘Apocalypse’. I know there are not zombie hoards roaming our cities. I know we are not being controlled by robot overlords. I know that the thoughts and actions of citizens are not being tracked by secret governmental depar…🙄
It is hard though, not to imagine the world I know becoming more like the ones I have read about in some of my favourite books.
What is happening now is a plot twist in the story we have all been collectively writing up until this point. Where the story goes after this is up to us!
The epic of human civilisation has so far been a good read, filled with lots of interesting characters and defining moments, but we are still in the early stages. It’s a never-ending story…we hope!
The current chapter sees the protagonist, Homo sapiens, confronted with an obstacle they must overcome in order for the story to progress.
Since the opening line of Our story, there have been many obstacles we have faced, and overcome – some that threatened to shake the very foundations of our world (some that actually have). What we are living through now is the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ – a literary term used to describe a defining moment in a story arc.
The main character is going through a time of turmoil, all seems lost, and we are forced to confront our demons and reflect on life – where is it headed? How can we get through this?
We aren’t sure yet how this chapter unfolds, but in keeping with the theme of this piece, I thought I would try my hand at writing a speculative draft of the chapter after this one…
[To make it more relatable, I’ll focus on one specific character in our story. Let’s call him, ‘Bob’]
Chapter X – Aftermath
Bob sat in front of his computer screen waiting for the Video meeting to start. He had twenty minutes to spare, so he opened InstaBook to see what the latest crowd-sourced news of the day was. It was all much of the same from the day before – mainly chatter about current events, and the outlandish reactions to them from one particularly outrageous world leader.
It was the third week of Global Lockdown #4 – just one more week until governments around the world would declare borders and business open again after yet another wave of the pandemic.
Bob had dealt with this lockdown pretty well – at least compared to the previous ones – and he was in good shape after all the Virtual Gym classes he had been taking at home for the best part of a year.
He had lost some extra weight due to the exercise and healthy vegetarian diet of organic, locally sourced produce – he’d lost so much weight, in fact, that his t-shirts were becoming too loose and made him look scruffy. So, with ten minutes before the meeting started, he put his VR headset on and opened the shopping portal.
He always hated shopping – it was too busy for an introvert like Bob – so Virtual Shopping suited him well. He went into a Virtual Store, browsed the Virtual Clothing Racks, when a Virtual Assistant approached him.
“Welcome to Virtual Reali-Tees, I’m ‘O’. How can I help you today, Bob?”
Bob explained that he wanted a plain white shirt, nothing fancy, but nicely fitted. ‘O’ invited Bob to the Virtual Fitting Room. He stood looking at a mirror, which displayed an anatomically gender-neutral model for a few seconds, before transforming into Bob’s custom, pre-uploaded body model – mimicking his current body shape, size, skin tone, and distinguishing features. A selection of items were presented and Bob dragged and dropped the one he liked onto his “reflection” – the shirt was augmented onto Bob’s model.
“I’ll take this one, thanks!” Bob deposited €20 (plus €15 shipping fee) of digital credit, and signed for delivery.
He took his headset off, and turned back to his computer screen. The meeting was about to begin.
There were five people in the waiting room, and as the clock struck 12:00, Bob opened the meeting.
“Hi everyone! How are we all doing today?” He smiled into the camera. “Lisa, it’s great that you could join us again. How is the little one?”
Lisa held up her baby to the camera and all the faces on the screen smiled.
“He’s been great, and it’s been lovely spending so much time with him, but I’m so glad to get back to work!” Lisa said with a sigh of relief.
“Well it’s good to have you back!” Replied Bob.
“Okay, let’s get to it!” Bob moved the conversation forward. “So, I’m sure you’re all aware that this is the last week of Lockdown. We are going to be extremely busy when people start returning to work again.”
Bob owned a Consulting Company. The company had no office, no employees, and no overheads, everything was done online. There was only Bob, at home, with a computer. The five people who joined Bob in the meeting were all self-employed freelancers – each were specialists in their own fields: Marketing; Accounting; HR; Design; Project Management. Everyone worked remotely from home, and they all collaborated on each other’s projects and liaised with client’s over digital channels.
Bob started the company in March 2021 after attending a Virtual Reality Event on Future Business Trends. The event was held at a virtual beachside venue and was attended by 5,000+ Avatars. Guest speakers gave presentations remotely on the future of business to the audience, and then visitors could meet in private rooms with other avatars to discuss business matters. Bob was blown away by some of the ideas, so much so, he actually ran with one of them and started his company soon after.
He had some experience in the industry, but had studied a bunch of online courses over the past year that helped set him up for the work he was now doing. Business was booming!
“Okay, so the final proposal should be ready to present next Friday.” Bob smiled. “Thanks everyone, good work again! As always, send your e-invoices for the hours you’ve done and I’ll get them paid straight away!
“Have a great week and if you’re ever in Finland, let me know and we can finally meet up for a coffee…keeping our distance still, of course!” Everyone smiled, knowingly and said their goodbyes. Bob ended the meeting.
He sat for a moment, staring at the computer screen, thinking about his life now. So much had changed in two years, but he kind of liked the way things had turned out for him. He was happily married, had three kids, they were all healthy, and he made a decent living.
It was also Friday, which meant date night with his wife. They had a new tradition of enjoying a movie at the Drive-In Cinema with some food delivered to their car. Bob liked Indian food, his wife preferred Thai, so they always ordered from a Ghost Kitchen and everyone was happy!
Bob was interrupted from his date night daydream by a notification on his phone. He walked to the door and opened it just in time to glimpse the drone flying away. On his doorstep sat a parcel. He took out a fresh white shirt and tried it on for real…perfect fit!
Bob’s wife and kids walked in through the door, took off their face masks and hung them up “Hi, Daddy!” said his son as he gave Bob a big hug.
His wife looked at Bob and smiled “you look very handsome!”. Then she kissed his cheek and took the boxes of groceries into the kitchen.
Bob stood in front of the mirror and smiled to himself. The future didn’t look so bad.
The moral of the story?
Times ARE uncertain right now, and we don’t know for sure what the future holds, but with all of the innovation, ideas, collaboration, and hard work going into building our future, it doesn’t have to be a Dystopian nightmare.
By David Jones – June 18, 2020
David is a Copywriter & Brand Storyteller at Rebel Creative Company.