I remember watching Back to the Future, Part II, when Marty goes to the future and sees some amazing things like a roadway in the sky, 3D advertisements, and the granddaddy of them all — a hoverboard. I clearly recall watching the movie with my mouth wide open thinking that in 2015 we were going to see some “serious shit.”
But then the years passed, as they always do, and somewhere in the passing the dream lost some of its luster. Y2K wasn’t nearly as dynamic as I thought it would be. The death of my 20s didn’t bring with it any fanfare. And now it’s 2015 and I don’t feel any different. Just older. Now as I rapidly approach 40 I look back at the film with a firm sense of nostalgia, a yearning for everything to be just as the director envisioned it 25 years ago. But it’s not.
What fascinated me the most was this idea that science and technology would have advanced at a feverish pace in the intervening years, that we would be able to fit a pizza into our pocket and then use a machine to rehydrate it, that we would be able to float off the ground on fast boards that moved at our command. But the best we’ve been able to do is a Keurig that only barely changes the way we drink coffee, and the return of 3D movies to theaters, which isn’t really an advancement after all.
The closest we’ve come to a “sky mall” are those ridiculously priced shops in the airport, and cars remain firmly planted on the ground. There’s no Max Headroom-like computer dispensing Pepsi at futuristic diners, and using your hands to play a video game is not like playing “a baby’s toy.” Sure, we have the Kinect system from XBox, but that was a short-lived sensation that has overstayed its welcome. It’s almost as if even though we have really great new ideas they just move at a more glacial pace than envisioned in the iconic film.
And that’s okay. If we even had Pit Bulls, what would I do with them anyway? What part of our society now hasn’t progressed at least somewhat since 1989? We are where we’re supposed to be technologically, even if we are leagues behind where some director thought we should be. Although abolishing all lawyers might be an efficient way to expediate trials and deliver verdicts, it would also eliminate fair trials. And changing the weather to suit our needs would feel good at first, but it would take the surprise out of the experience, the element of spontaneity to it all.
The future is now, and for better or for worse we don’t have ridiculous technologies like the ones from Back to the Future, Part II, but we also don’t have the cool aspects of them either. I am in the drawing to get some of those new sneakers with power laces, though, but I hope they’re out by October 21st or all hell will break loose. Because we all know that’s the only technology that is both cool and functional from the film. 2015 here we come, whatever that means.