The BBC have this great site, Genome, where you can look up what was on telly on any day in history. Since the invention of telly, that is. Obviously.
So I looked up what was showing on the day I was born. Good God. I though ‘An Evening with Dame Sybil Thorndike’ was a Python sketch. No wonder the pubs were full.
Which is, obliquely, the point of this posting. Its one of the things that classic sci-fi never quite predicted. Whether utopian or dystopian they’ve tended to show us societies, tribes, clans. Peoples - not always human - coming together through some shared sense of identity or need. As if that's our default, the need to flock together like penguins in a blizzard.
Which is ironic, really, when you consider these are stories banged out by some bloke on his tod in front of an Olivetti portable or whatever was the equivalent in the time of Verne or Wells.
But we’ve gone from everybody down the pub to avoid ‘An Evening with Dame Sybil Thorndike’ or a documentary on the cost of motor insurance (no, really) to walling ourselves up in our living rooms huddled in family units to watch three, then four, then a dozen channels.
Which was, of course, just a waymarker on a longer journey. We’ve since gained screens in every room and have fractured our society into even smaller parts, whole families sitting in different spaces watching different - or, even worse, the same - things.
And now, forget a fixed screen in every room, we have a screen in every palm. And we can film our own material to boot.
Society is like water or lightning. It takes the path of least resistance. That’s why, when you take away the need to man a loom for fourteen hours a day, the average mind drifts to porn and drugs. It’s a default. We’re animals, really. And I mean that literally first, and metaphorically second.
The future is us sitting in our own filth with screens over - and then in - our eyes watching content of our own making. And if that’s just a waymarker too and not the end of the journey then I have no idea what comes next…
Work that into part seven, George.