I used to love Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid. One of my favorite cartoons was The Jetsons.  I could not wait to see what George, Jane, Judy, Elroy, and Astro were up to each week. One of the coolest things about watching the show was being able to dream if this was going to be what it would be like in the 21st century. There were flying cars, maids that were robots, and if you pushed a button a three course meal would be immediately served to you, piping hot. But, even though these luxuries have not become part of everyday life, so many inventions that we have today are things the Jetsons did not have.  Email, Internet access, Smart Phones, DVRS, among others were created and continually improved upon by brilliant outside the box thinkers. Usually this technology was developed by one company to stay ahead of the competition. But, in areas where there is not much corporate competition, technology has not advanced much from the time I was in my pajamas watching the cartoons up to today.

Automobiles are so much nicer and reliable than when I was growing up. My uncle bought a used car when I was a kid and when he drove us around we had to keep our feet on the seat because there was a hole in the floor and you could see the road go by as you drove. More like The Flintstones rather than The Jetsons. Today, most cars are so much more innovative and luxurious than they were back then. But, today I live less than a mile from where I grew up, and when we wanted to go to downtown Chicago during moderate traffic times it would take my dad close to an hour to drive there. Now, when I take my family downtown in moderate traffic times it still takes almost an hour. If there were companies striving for your business we might see commercials saying “Take our twelve lane uncongested route to Chicago and you will get there in twenty five minutes with rest stops and gas stations every two miles.” And to stay ahead of the competition corporations would find a way to make it happen.

When I was young every year or two we would have a bad storm that knocked out electricity for a few hours and then the lights would go back on and everything was back to normal. Now, decades later, every year or two we have a storm that knocks out power in my house for a couple of hours. In fact, it is not that uncommon that a big storm will pass through a major metropolitan area and hundreds of thousands of people will be without power for several days. If there were a bunch of companies vying for your electric business we might hear ads that say, “Our newly improved power lines are made to withstand winds up to 150 miles an hour, and if you are ever without power for more than 12 hours you get your next month electricity free.”

Sixty years from now when my great grandson is watching cartoons on Saturday morning on his 300 inch super high definition television with 2,500 stations and with the technology of being able to pop in and be part of the cartoon whenever he pleases, he will be having experiences I could not even begin to imagine. But, if a storm passes through town or his family wants to go to dinner downtown, he might experience the same exact inconveniences that his great grandfather did.

About the Author

Mike Byster

Mike Byster is the author of The Power of Forgetting.

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