The Future of Us has a cool conceit: two teen friends in 1996, Emma and Josh, install a magical AOL CD-ROM that lets them log into Emma’s Facebook account from 15 years in the future. There’s a dash of social satire, some of which is executed with a heavy hand (I get that for much of the target audience logging off the Internet so the family can use the phone may be so novel a concept that it really does need explication, but maybe the description of Facebook’s layout is less essential). Mostly, though, future Facebook is used as an extended metaphor for the difficulty of predicting the consequences of choices, and to provide an impetus for Emma and Josh to tackle the tricky task of figuring out the difference between what they think they want and what they really want.
I was certainly entertained. If I thought it was a bit fluffy, it was also thought-provoking. The biggest provoked thoughts: there is no way I would want to look fifteen years into the future, even if it was conveniently malleable. I would apply the same fortitude I use to avoid pre-release streams or downloads of upcoming albums. And: fifteen years seems like a long view to Emma and Josh, maybe even to Asher and Mackler. But not to me. If I could have looked fifteen years ahead from my high school sophomore year, I could perhaps have made choices that led to being happier in my 30s. But that would have precluded getting to where I am now, which I can’t imagine trading for anything. In mathematical terms, a problem of optimizing for local maxima.
Aside: in addition to the blatheration above, I endorse virtually everything in my friend Janet’s review, which made me want to read this book in the first place. Thanks, Janet!
needs more demons? perhaps.