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Douglas Coupland

A radical pessimist's guide to the next 10 years Add to ...

The iconic writer reveals the shape of things to come, with 45 tips for survival and a matching glossary of the new words you'll need to talk about your messed-up future.

1) It's going to get worse

No silver linings and no lemonade. The elevator only goes down. The bright note is that the elevator will, at some point, stop.

2) The future isn't going to feel futuristic

It's simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn't feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

3) The future is going to happen no matter what we do. The future will feel even faster than it does now

The next sets of triumphing technologies are going to happen, no matter who invents them or where or how. Not that technology alone dictates the future, but in the end it always leaves its mark. The only unknown factor is the pace at which new technologies will appear. This technological determinism, with its sense of constantly awaiting a new era-changing technology every day, is one of the hallmarks of the next decade.

4) Move to Vancouver, San Diego, Shannon or Liverpool

There'll be just as much freaky extreme weather in these west-coast cities, but at least the west coasts won't be broiling hot and cryogenically cold.

5) You'll spend a lot of your time feeling like a dog leashed to a pole outside the grocery store - separation anxiety will become your permanent state

6) The middle class is over. It's not coming back

Remember travel agents? Remember how they just kind of vanished one day?

That's where all the other jobs that once made us middle-class are going - to that same, magical, class-killing, job-sucking wormhole into which travel-agency jobs vanished, never to return. However, this won't stop people from self-identifying as middle-class, and as the years pass we'll be entering a replay of the antebellum South, when people defined themselves by the social status of their ancestors three generations back. Enjoy the new monoclass!

7) Retail will start to resemble Mexican drugstores

In Mexico, if one wishes to buy a toothbrush, one goes to a drugstore where one of every item for sale is on display inside a glass display case that circles the store. One selects the toothbrush and one of an obvious surplus of staff runs to the back to fetch the toothbrush. It's not very efficient, but it does offer otherwise unemployed people something to do during the day.

8) Try to live near a subway entrance

In a world of crazy-expensive oil, it's the only real estate that will hold its value, if not increase.

9) The suburbs are doomed, especially thoseE.T. , California-style suburbs

This is a no-brainer, but the former homes will make amazing hangouts for gangs, weirdoes and people performing illegal activities. The pretend gates at the entranceways to gated communities will become real, and the charred stubs of previous white-collar homes will serve only to make the still-standing structures creepier and more exotic.

10) In the same way you can never go backward to a slower computer, you can never go backward to a lessened state of connectedness

11) Old people won't be quite so clueless

No more "the Google," because they'll be just that little bit younger.

12) Expect less

Not zero, just less.

13) Enjoy lettuce while you still can

And anything else that arrives in your life from a truck, for that matter. For vegetables, get used to whatever it is they served in railway hotels in the 1890s. Jams. Preserves. Pickled everything.

14) Something smarter than us is going to emerge

Thank you, algorithms and cloud computing.

15) Make sure you've got someone to change your diaper

Sponsor a Class of 2112 med student. Adopt up a storm around the age of 50.

16) "You" will be turning into a cloud of data that circles the planet like a thin gauze

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