Nostalgia in culture

The past is the future

Perhaps the future, instead of being an unrecognisable place full of magic and wonder, is actually already here?

So often, when asked to think about the future, connoisseurs of the present come up with far-flung, bombastic thoughts that are all trapped within today’s imaginations.

It’s easy to look back and laugh at how commercial artist Jean Marc Côté imagined what the year 2000 would look like back in 1900 – a world of robot hairdressers and buses powered by whales – but hindsight is a beautiful thing, and we seem to keep falling into the same prediction trap decade after decade.

Perhaps a more realistic way of trying to figure out what the future holds is to actually look backwards. Hear me out. Cast your mind back 20 years to the heady days of 2002 (if you’re old enough to remember). Think what has changed between then and now? In a way, everything – and nothing.

On the one hand, we have the emergence of big tech, insanely intelligent phones, and services that have made the world so much smaller in scale (imagine trying to navigate Covid-19 WFH in 2002). Yet some of the pubs we love still stand. The buildings remain, even if the shopfronts are different. The landscape when we look out the window doesn’t have flying cars and robot helpers. We still had mobile phones 20 years ago, it’s just what they do that has fundamentally changed. When you really look, is 2022 as fundamentally different as some predicted in 2002?

When the future lands, often it’s somewhat more subtle than ­expected. It creeps up on you, maintaining the old order slightly while injecting the new intravenously. The process of change is often organic. This is especially true when it comes to creativity.

For me, all creativity comes from copying. Admit it, we all do it, consciously or subconsciously. And, honestly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that