The November 1995 issue of Spin Magazine was dedicated to The Future, dosage which is to say “The World That’s Coming But Not from the Direction or in the Manner You Anticipated.” As our species loves its round numbers and decade-perceived flow of history, buy many of the features speculated about the not-entirely-far-flung techno-fantasy land of 2015.
If you couldn’t guess by the issue’s publication date, the “cyber-” prefix saw some heavy use during the predictive proceedings, little of which displayed any prescience about the real shape of the digital cultures to come. There’s nothing like seeing “online music portal” and taking a few minutes to realize it’s referring to a internet storefront for physical product to make you realize you’ve blithely stumbled through a massive paradigm shift.
I’ve also decided that this image…
…will be my default response whenever some “REVOLUTIONARY NEW GADGET” tech blog nonsense pops up in my Twitter timeline.
The most tragic bits in the feature are the ones that elevate the “wired generation” (i.e. Gen-X’ers, i.e. my generation) as hacktivist messiahs of a new and better social order. I’ll be the first one to admit my generation got dealt a lousy demographic hand, but it wasn’t like we played a particularly enthusiastic game with it, either. We embraced irony and apathy as a commodified pose during the lean years, only to append “for a paycheck” to the “whatever” buzzphrase once the tech bubble began to expand. (When I used to commute to work on the Orange Line in the late 1990s, I would marvel at the number of smartly dressed financial sector workers around my age who sported tell-tale scars where their nose, ear, and lip piercings used to be.
To be fair, it’s not like I’ve ever invested any effort in shaking the pillars of heaven, but therein lies that mix of eye-rolling and guilt experienced whenever I stumble across these old paeans to (and written by) my generation.
And if you need a demonstration of the ugly places the hip cynicism of a twenty-something can lead to, go check out the Facebook timelines of my former alt-rockin’ high school classmates. (I suppose I’ve stayed “pure” in a certain sense, but look at where that has gotten me — a bitter husk of a man with rotten teeth who spends a good portion of his time talking to his cats.)
Yet as existentially depressing as those realizations were, they paled in comparison to the tongue-in-cheek article about where 1995′s college radio darlings would be in 2015, complete with the finest simulated aging effects Photoshop 3.0 could provide.
Shit. If I knew that was Michael Stipe panhandling at the Columbia Road offramp this morning, I’d have tossed him a quarter.