April 19, 2013
So I was lounging around the Crosby family compound the other day, and while I unrolled the magazine that I had just used to teach the dog to stay off the couch, an article caught my eye. It was about future trends in home design—did I mention it was one of the wife’s periodicals—and although it really wasn’t all that interesting, Danish modern is making a comeback, granite countertops are becoming passé, Ginger is the new Taupe, blah, blah, blah, one item did jump out at me. The article quoted some guy—I can’t remember his name, but I think he was the one that was predicting the demise of Taupe—and said that he was a noted “Futurist”. Now here was something interesting. Not only had this guy made a career out of being a Futurist, but he had done so much in the field that he was “noted”. Naturally, my mind was a whirl.
How does one become a Futurist? A theoretical physicist, like Dr. Michio Kaku, I get, but Futurist? Now it’s been awhile since I went to college, so maybe this is one of those new majors you find in one of those “fill in the blank studies” departments—you know, the ones where parents pay a hundred grand for their kid to grab their sheepskin in preparation for the exciting world of retail or Occupy Wall Street—and I just hadn’t heard of it. I can only imagine the reaction when the kid they sent off to “Money U” in hopes of him/her emerging as a doctor, lawyer or an engineer tells them that they’ve want to be a Futurism major. How do you describe that to the neighbors? Or maybe you don’t get a degree at all, and future Futurists go through some type of apprentice program where they work with a mentor for some period of time until they get their equivalent of a journeyman’s card. They probably start with small tasks, “tell me what I’m going to wear tomorrow”, and work their way up to harder stuff like fashion trends, popular fads and predicting the date for WWIII.
Other than the odd prognostication for home design magazines, I’m not actually sure how most Futurists make a living since even Nostradomus worked part time at a Walgreen’s to make ends meet. A quick search on Monster didn’t show any openings, so maybe this is the type of thing that is really more of an entrepreneurial profession. Kind of like being a lawyer I suppose. Hang out your shingle and wait for the foot traffic to start rolling in. And I have to believe that it does, because who doesn’t want to know about the future, and isn’t going to a Futurist a little more publically acceptable than visiting Madame Cho’s House of Tarot?
I think good Futurists write a lot of books with very provocative titles like, The Climate Bomb, The Androgynous Child and 2067: The Year the Lions Win the Super Bowl. This does a couple of things, it gets people to read their books since who isn’t interested in when the Lions win the big one—I’d buy that one myself—and more importantly, it gets them booked on TV shows like “The View”. Spewing out predictions like, “in the future everyone will be a Republican” is just the type of thing that make Joy and Whoopi recoil in horror and drive ratings through the roof. This is the coupe de gace for reaching the pinnacle of any Futurists career which is, of course, having your own TV show. Just imagine it. Every week, there you are, telling people what the future holds from 9-9:30 Eastern Standard Time right between The Long Island Medium and Swamp People. If that doesn’t get you the “noted” designation, I don’t know what does. And who cares if you’re right? A good Futurist makes predictions so far into the future no one is around to find out if they were right or wrong. It’s kind of like being a climate scientist—only better.
Naturally, like any profession, I’m sure being a Futurist has it downsides. You probably get button-holed at neighborhood parties by people asking you if their kid will get into Harvard—based on the odds, “no” is probably a pretty accurate forecast—or will they ever get that golf handicap down to 20, in which case tell them you see a new driver in their future. It doesn’t really answer the question, but it makes them feel better and helps the local golf shop. Let’s face it, a good Futurist is a people pleaser at heart.
I think in these times of uncertainty the world needs more Futurists. Think of it as a 21st century growth industry. I myself am chomping at the bit to start. In fact, I am going to make my first prediction right here, “Tomorrow it will rain, somewhere”. See, right on the money.