If you’re a blog-trawler you might have caught up with a list of predictions for the future made by the Ladies’ Home Journal. What makes it interesting is that the predictions were made in 1900 about the future in the year 2000. If you missed it, it’s a fascinating insight into how deeply embedded we are in our own time. It’s easy to score the many technology predictions (the Journal gave the thumbs-up to high speed trains and global networking of communications and thumbs-down to air-ships) but I find in the more personal and social ideas many insights into the spirit of our time.
- Our obsession with fitness is spectacularly anticipated, but the emphasis is on health rather than beauty. "A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling."
- Our growing concern over food safety is seen clearly from 1900. "Shopkeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested."
- Our passion for speed is captured by the prediction that English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas. We call it texting.
- Our love affair with takeout food is predicted in detail – they just got the delivery system wrong. Pneumatic tubes never made it!