Just attended a data conference this week, where I spent the day exchanging firm handshakes with steely-eyed captains of industry and learning power-phrases to lob at my clients, such as “data is the new oil.” At the afterparty (cocktails and more firm handshakes), met up with some random millennials. After a few cocktails, talk turned to the state of the world, as it often does. One of the millennials pointed out that his generation was inheriting a very different world from mine.
Here are some skills that my generation has ensured that you young ‘uns will get to exercise in the coming decades:
You’ll forget the Art of the Deal, as you learn the hard way never, never to invest in real estate. Instead, your instinctual hunter-gatherer skills will come in handy as you up stakes and move to ever higher elevations (if near the coast or flood plains), or towards ever newer watering holes. Literal watering holes, not the kind that caters to data geeks working out their generational differences over craft beer.
You won’t be needing those pricey home mortgages, but of course you’ll need to live somewhere! Tokyo is blazing the trail with “capsule hotels”. For a low monthly fee of three thousand clams (in the future, actual clams), you get a personal “sleeping capsule”, use of a communal kitchen and dining area, plus free Wi-Fi. Private toilet use is included but I think single shower privileges may be an extra. If you opt out, you’ll be making some new friends in a novel way.
The rituals and ways of my generation were put on full display in Mad Men. You saw how we ate: rare steaks with marbled fat, cigars, neat scotch…and that was for breakfast. Meat three times a day – bacon and eggs, hamburgers chased down with roast beef and potatoes, and a pork loin for afters. Coffee and cigarettes before bed. I swear my grandmother went to her grave believing that green jello was a vegetable.
No more of that! My grand children and all their progeny will be enjoying the health benefits of sea vegetables, plankton patties, fast-growing grasses and grains, and nothing with even a whiff of chocolate or caffeine. If you’re already a vegan, mazeltov! If not, well, you will be. My generation made that choice for you. Coffee and chocolate are on their way out , meat will be priced the same as your “sleeping pod”, and so will almost any product that relies on predictable weather, land, or water supplies. Oh, and sorry about the bees. Ask Grandad what “honey” was.
Fewer Swiss Clichés
In my day, Switzerland was a thing. The Sound of Music was a top grossing movie (ok that was Austria but who’s counting), people insisted on reading “Heidi “ to reluctant grandchildren, Disney built the Matterhorn ride, and everyone’s favorite one-hit-wonder opera involves the tenor getting killed by an avalanche on Mont Blanc, followed by the soprano flinging herself from a glacier after singing a lovely aria. Toboggans, skiing, lederhosen, Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mix, fondue – all these wonders were predicated on snow falling upon the Alps.
You won’t be burdened with these and other tiresome clichés. The snow and ice is receding in Switzerland, Alaska, Montana, and the Andes. In fact, it looks like those pesky ice-caps on either end of the planet will also be a thing of the past. So get busy, you millennials, and start finding some new clichés of your own. How about…boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy dies in massive sandstorm. (Gender designations may vary).
Back in the Dark Ages, if we weren’t talking about Switzerland, we were asking boys if they wanted to be an astronaut. Then, we realized girls could be astronauts too! Wow! Then Elon Musk came along and said EVERYONE could be an astronaut, and it will only cost a few bil.
Then we realized we’ve accidently launched 5 gazillion pieces of space garbage into low-earth orbit, ready to put the kybosh on anyone from your generation thinking they can escape to Mars. This will allow you to cultivate a more down-to-earth attitude than my generation had. Or perhaps it will spur you into developing self-healing materials that will prevent your precious oxygen from venting to space when a tiny fleck of paint off an 80’s era spy satellite punctures your vessel’s outer shell because it’s comin’ at you at 175000 miles per hour on an intersecting orbit. And your space ship is made of thick aluminum foil.
You can forget about Mars, too – but that’s not because of my generation. That’s because it can’t support life. This week, Mars kicked up a massive red-sandstorm that’s covering 25 percent of the surface, including NASA rovers. You won’t survive on Mars, but I have an idea for a new cliché: Rover meets rover, rover gets rover, rover dies in massive sandstorm.
Like I said before, you’re welcome!