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Blog 3: Utopia, Dystopia

October 4, 2010

2035. I’ll be 42 then, almost as old as my parents are now. My mother can barely change the channels on the TV (granted, there are close to a hundred buttons between our two remotes) and the thought of falling behind in that way by the time I’m that age is a bleak future in itself. But as someone who has grown up adjusting to a constant shift in technology, hopefully that won’t happen, and technology will be something I can still participate in.

Let’s say that by the year 2035, technology has improved the world in ways beyond today’s comprehension. Smart boards, e-readers and more interactive teaching tools (I’m still rooting for virtual reality helmets to teach history lessons) improve the lietracy and global understanding of the world’s students. As the technology becomes more widespread and affordable, even inner city schools gain access to these wealths of information. With better students going out into the world, more of them will go to college, where the hands-on learning continues.

 As education improves, more solutions to other problems can be resolved, and these can be broadcast over TV and radio. News, weather, traffic and sports will be further in-depth, and TV and radio will be merged into small, handy, iPod-like devices that will become as widespread as the television or radio before it did. A variety of sizes and styles will allow people to carry them in their purse, on a watchband, or clipped to a briefcase or pocket. Narrowcasting will become even more narrow, breaking down information by level of comprehension. For instance, each news company will have a channel for children, one for teens, and one for adults. The information will be at a level each group can understand, allowing everyone to understand the information being put out into the world and creating a society of more global people.

Hopefully, the instant ability for knowledgable people to spread information and opinions can lead to a stop or at least reduction of wars in the world. As more and more people of earth understand each other’s culture through the availabilty of education and technology, bonds can be created and arguments settled. If terrorists can create a campaign through mass media, so can those opposed to terrorism and in support of peace. As education throughout the world inmproves, people can break out of the cycles of poverty that cause hatred and rebellion, and maybe everyone can at last get along. Imagine a world where the biggest problem the United States has with the Middle East is that some of the tourists who visited got a sunburn. It’s possible.

But there’s a dark side to the technology-filled future, and it’s a theme horror movies love to visit. Remember the 2002 movie ‘The Ring’? It was about a cursed video tape. Anybody who watched the tape died seven days later. But there was a way out. If the person who watched the tape made a copy of it before the seven days was up, and forced someone else to watch it, they would be spared in favor of the second person. Here’s the thing–the first tape, the one that was copied, still existed. And if the second person made a copy and showed a third person, then there would be three copies. Three copies anybody could watch, and copy, and rec-copy, and re-copy. This was the very first viral video, and the virus was deadly.

Now imagine  The Ring Tape, being played on the big screen in Times Square. Imagine millions dying seven days later. Imagine the tape making it to Youtube, where anyone can watch it. Curious kids or teenagers who were dared watching this one piece of mass media that has become a plague. Frightened people must try and shut themselves off from all of it, but, as the last blog shows, it is much, much easier said than done. Eventually, our technological creations that brought the human race so much pride eats the world alive. Only the mole-people, hiding in their caves without any cell reception or cable access, will survive.

There have since been other movies and stories about diseases and curses travelling through mass media outlets. It’s a fear that has accompanied the era. Ghost stories in earlier centuries involved aliens and creatures of the unknown, as it was a time of travel and exploration. These days, as the world has been for the most part conquered, people are content to sit back and watch a TV screen or use a computer. The monsters have followed suit.

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