Posted February 10, 2012 by Jeff Pelletier 

We Were Promised Silver Jumpsuits and Jetpacks

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. It may be because we’re on the cusp of conference season, which for many is a time to think beyond what they’re currently doing to what they could be doing. I’ve also discovered a phenomenon that I have thought of as “retro future.” Maybe that’s not the right word—let me explain. 

When my generation was growing up, the 21st century was a long way off. Movies, television, and other media made us grand promises of what our future would look like. We all thought we’d be walking around in silver jumpsuits (Jerry Seinfeld explains it in this video at about the 1:10 mark), getting around on hover boards, flying cars, and wearing Nike Mags. Nike did capture this wistfulness for the prognostication of “Back to the Future” with the release of actual Mags, sadly without powerlaces. Though it’s still lacking a flux capacitor, the DeLorean made famous by “Back to the Future” now has a futuristic look and forward-thinking battery power cells.

We’ve made some strides for sure, and we’ve left ourselves some room to keep thinking about how to make life better with technology, innovation, and invention. The same is probably true in your unions. While we opened our building less than two years ago, we were planning years before that, meaning we had to think ahead about what might exist that we didn’t even know about yet. No easy task! And while our built-in audio-visual touchscreen information kiosks and virtual bulletin boards might have been cutting edge, we’ll need to constantly think about what’s next to stay current and keep up with the needs of our campus community. 

What I find most fascinating is how we take for granted the fact that the future has, in many cases, arrived. A couple of people I follow on Twitter posted the following sentiments around the turn of the New Year:  

  •  2012...the future is here. On my way to the apparel store to pick up my one piece silver jumpsuit (@BrianRitschel)  
  •  So it is #2012...where are the flying cars #future #tech (@_mikecoleman_)  
  •  Dear 2011, we thought you would have flying cars and robots by now, but congrats on backwards robes. Sincerely, 1950 (@MensHumor)  

Snuggies aside, we often think we should be further along than we are. But if you think about it, many of us walk around with the ability to communicate with anyone we want from a device that fits in our pocket. The Jetsons used to be the only people who had videophones; now, anyone with a Skype account or Facetime can talk face-to-face with the people in their lives. Social media has helped us spread news and information at a lightning quick pace (and does the same for the mindless stuff, too). Remember when you needed a book of stamps to send out a letter to a family or friend? When was the last time you did that?  

Rather than appreciate where we are, too often I hear people complain about the minor inconvenience when they can’t easily access the Internet or their email from inside a car doing 70 miles per hour down the highway. Did you ever think that was a possibility when you were thinking about “the future?” Me neither. Before lamenting the fact that your car still needs a road to get from Point A to Point B, be appreciative of all the things you can do along the way—as long as you’re the passenger, of course.

But don’t stop thinking about what life may look like in 10, 20, or 50 years. If nothing else, I am sure it will be a great ride. Along the way, you can stop off for your silver jumpsuit, too. 

 

 

 

Jeff Pelletier

Jeff Pelletier is the Director, Ohio Union Operations & Events at The Ohio State University.

Jeff oversees building operations including event production, audio-visual, shipping and receiving, and office administration in the Ohio Union. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Boston College, a master’s in higher education and student affairs from Ohio State, and is completing a master’s in business operational excellence also from Ohio State. He has been a volunteer forACUI at the regional and international level since 2003, currently serving on the Board of Trustees. Jeff is active on social media, developing his digital identity alongside the students, colleagues, and mentors who aren’t bored with his posts and updates. When not tweeting, Jeff is often seen running the streets of Columbus training for the next half-marathon or 5K.

Comments

Quick update on those of you waiting for your hover board: Cnet.co/xcMs3u
Jeff Pelletier
pelletier.12@osu.edu
Comment posted 02/19/2012 10:39 AM
This was an great post that offers perspective about life and makes you think about what we have and how technology has added convenience to our life. We have so much that we take for granted.
Leticia Olds
Comment posted 02/28/2012 4:43 PM
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