There are moments when I feel like I’m living in the future. The one promised by the Jetsons and the Atari 2600 we kept under the wood-paneled Magnavox downstairs. When I click print in the bedroom and hear the plastic clack and whirring of the printer gears in the office, I am amazed. I can listen to virtually any album, any song, whenever I want, on my computer. This is humbling. Skype, which brings me back to sci-fi videophones and Friday nights watching Max Headroom on TV, is beyond comprehension.
I was at a lunch recently, surrounded by strangers. It was a familiar scene, with wine and laughs and shafts of sunlight coming in through the windows. I drifted in and out of the conversations, when, suddenly, people started pulling devices from their pockets. One guest, a big bank lawyer, pushed up her sleeve to show the one strapped to her wrist. Her partner produced one from her bright flowery dress. The guy next to me, Justin, kept his in his shirt pocket. I’ve taken almost 10,000 already today, the lawyer announced. 10,000 what? I thought, half listening.
These devices measure the number of steps you take in a day. I was shocked. This is the future I thought to myself. I said something about Space Invaders and looked down at the table made of ruddy chestnut, sanded smooth, holding up all of our plates. I speared a thin piece of cured pork with my fork, concentrated with grim focus on my glass of wine, and tried, with every inch of me, not to consider how many steps I might have taken that day.
[Photo: Production still from the motion picture Blade Runner, 1982]
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