Prompt 097: 1970's Technology, Today
97. Today's world is very interdependent, given the internet and social networking. How would the world change if technology reverted back to how it was in the 1970s? How would your life change, given that personal computers cost around $5,000 at the time?
Life would be drastically different for me, personally, if life somehow reverted to the technology of the 1970's. For one, I doubt I'd be much of a computer nerd, like I am today. I would spend a lot more time reading books and newspapers. I wonder if I would have stuck with theatre, or even visual art, had technology been such a distracting force in my life. Would I have dived into role-playing games as much as I had in my youth, then continued with it as a content provider or even worked with the publisher, TSR, back in the day?
It's easy to imagine a life different from the one I have now, when I consider a possibility of pre-1980's technology being the norm. Storytelling would have manifested in my life differently, and I'm fairly certain I would have embraced a different kind of creative pursuit, hopefully as part of the way I would make a living.
Were I able to combine my love of rustic living and theatre/storytelling, then I would have likely tried my hand at Peter Brooks' Bread & Puppet Theater of Vermont. There's a communal farm and performance "lab" where all manner of provocative, social-justice-oriented theatre is devised, and it's been active since the late 1960's. I'd studied them briefly while in college for my theatre degree, and then saw/hosted several performances of theirs in the community center I used to work in. They traveled in a custom-decorated school bus, holding all the performers, their set pieces, costumes, and puppetry.
Would I have attended school to be a schoolteacher? A college professor? Swept up in environmental causes and concerns of the future? One of the pioneers of solar cells? A diesel mechanic? A bicycle mechanic? A baker for a hash bar in Denmark? A contemporary of the likes of Rob Oehler and Sepp Holzer: pioneers of permaculture and sustainable living? A so-called White Ally of the Black Panthers?
There are many possibilities in an adult life where electric cars, the International Space Station, mobile phones, the Internet, electronic music and computers not around in my youth and adulthood. Certainly not all of them would be considered bad.
I think about now, about today. This absolutely, positively, has to be the worst year of the century so far. It seems like so much is hanging in the balance of the upcoming US election. In her last message to me, my Czechen penpal wrote that much of Europe is hoping the US stays as the dominant world power, as a world where China or Russia takes that spot is imagined as much worse.
Meanwhile, social tensions have both exhausted and enraged most US citizens. Neoliberalism and late-stage capitalism have sucked the worth from all human experience, commodifying the world and any chance at happiness. You can live only as a subject that generates wealth for some corporation, then to spend what money you collect to pay rent to the ruling class. Sustenance is only available when you buy buy buy at the global Company Store.
The planet is becoming a sickly, polluted mudball. Air quality worsens by the month. The oceans are filled with plastic, caustic chemicals, and in some places radioactive wastewater. Humans have overrun the planet and continue to breed.
I keep wanting to wake from this complete nightmare. There's pretty much nothing left that's not been tainted by either this pandemic or through the shittiness of humans. Seriously: what will it take for something to turn out to be just a little bit better? What will be the turning point for this Most Terrible Year of the Century?
Maybe I live for the day when we, as a collective, can finally say: "Whew! I sure am glad -that's- over!!!" Until then, we'll just be saying: "Oh hell, what's next?"