diamond geezer

 Saturday, January 11, 2020

I suppose I ought to make some predictions for the upcoming decade, in a feature that can only be called 2030 Vision. I've come up with five new predictions and retained/revised five of last time's. If you'd like your thoughts to reappear on this blog in ten years time, comment away.

203 0 Vision: contactless

Cash will still be around at the end of the decade because there are too many situations in which only cash will do, but it'll be used by far fewer people. Expect an increase in the proportion of establishments who won't take the hard stuff, citing transactional costs, and who won't care if a handful of potential punters can't pay. Contactless isn't yet a decade old - it was an exciting novelty at the 2012 Olympics - but large numbers of people already get very cross if they arrive at an establishment that won't accept it. Businesses love contactless too, because it gets customers into the habit of paying for things without registering how much they cost, then cursing their statements later. If the phone in your pocket will double up as a virtual fifty pound note, all the better. One inevitable outcome will be even fewer banks, but don't dismiss cash as inefficient and obsolete just yet. I've already paid a cheque into my account this year, because financial methods take a long time to die.

203 0 Vision: convenience

It started with coffee. Businesses persuaded us we didn't like the stuff we made at home, that coffee made elsewhere was better, and with that truth delighted in charging us two quid a time. Now it's happening with food, but this time it's our preparation skills which are redundant. Fancy a burger? We'll bike it round. Yearning for some spicy noodles? One of our dark kitchens will dispatch a tubful. Still feel like cooking a meal from scratch? Don't bother buying the ingredients yourself, we'll send a selection in a box. There's money to be made in outsourcing the hard work of meal assembly, as society loses its collective ability to knock up a casserole or pop a frozen pizza in the oven. For those who live anywhere near a high street the very concept of a packed lunch is already redundant, the important thing being to return to your desk with a bowl of something more exotic than sandwiches. Britain's expanding its tastes, which is no bad thing, but forking out a lot more for the privilege.

203 0 Vision: identity

Who you were used to be simple, either this or that, because society didn't recognise anything else was possible. Breaking that divide took years, but has accelerated of late towards increasing acceptance of a whole spectrum of values. LGBTQIA has extended to a full alphabet, sexual orientation covers a full 360° and gender no longer ticks the boxes. Young people in particular are more relaxed about who they are, or might be, and who they might want to share a range of experiences with. This'll be the decade society catches up, or attempts to, or retreats into bigotry and decries all this as unnatural. Breaking down barriers won't always be easy, not least where existing rules and laws fail to take the complexity of the continuum into account. But expect to see individuals increasingly comfortable in their own skin, and perhaps wonder why it ever took so long.

203 0 Vision: bubble

Social media famously amplifies voices we agree with, because otherwise we wouldn't be following those people in the first place. It's all too easy to become convinced that everyone thinks the same way, a bit like reading the Daily Mail for twenty years, except now everyone's doing it. I always try to follow a couple of people more left-wing than me and a couple more right-wing, solely so that their infuriating opinions remind me that I'm not the norm. But now Britain itself is entering a bubble, as in three weeks time it starts the process of cutting itself off from its European neighbours, because who wanted to listen to them anyway? Let's stand on our own two feet, and not let so many of the bastards in any more, and make it much harder for ourselves to go there too, and see where that gets us. Pigheaded isolation may be the theme of the upcoming decade, almost as if we've learned nothing.

203 0 Vision: Boris

Boris Johnson will stand astride the Twenties in the same way that Margaret Thatcher dominated the Eighties. By rising to power in a year ending in nine, then establishing a commanding majority the opposition can't crack, your name gets to become synonymous with an entire decade. He'll love that. We Londoners have a fair idea what to expect - more words than actions - but this time he's in a job with real power. Expect a shift to decisions made in private, because it turns out nobody minds if you fail to put yourself up for scrutiny. Expect all sorts of ropey changes promoted because it's "what the people want" or "what the North expects". And expect just enough shiny baubles to get him re-elected next time, because that's how long-term reputations are forged. Blood, sweat and tears. Bread and circuses.

2020/2030 Vision: consumption
Prepare to have your environmental conscience judged. "Oh, you actually flew on holiday this year did you?" "If you use that Bag For Life only once it's actually worse." "How can you eat that plant-based burger when it's been cooked on the same grill as the meat?" It's going to be intolerable, but also necessary.

2020/2030 Vision: babble
You know where online communication is going, it's going visual. Emojis were only the start, now social media posts only grab your attention if they include an image, an animation or better still a video. Entire conversations can be held using only memes, with the accompanying text reduced to a supporting act. Nobody wants to read those 500 words you've written grandpa, not any more.

2020/2030 Vision: extinction
The one organisation I fear for most in the 2020s is the BBC. With its licence fee suppressed, its independence questioned, its audience diverted and its services belittled, it'll become harder to defend from those who would see it diminished. May it be left alone rather relentlessly attacked. Nothing that might supersede it could ever do as good a job.

2020/2030 Vision: digitalisation
Everything changes eventually, but it's astonishing this blog hasn't. It still looks like it did in 2003, typed into an interface lingering from before 2010, with internal links that all still go where they were supposed to, and the entire package still doesn't cost me anything. Blogger's legacy software cannot continue for another decade, technology doesn't work like that, but let's see how far it gets.

2020/2030 Vision: older
I do not recommend adding ten to your age and facing up to how old you'll be at the start of the next decade. Instead focus on all the opportunities you'll have on the journey, and try to grasp as many as you can.

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