Back To The Future – Today

I often wonder how some people even make it to their own deaths. The risky things that can happen to people who aren’t even trying to live dangerously are more than plentiful yet some insist on going that little bit further and inviting harm, perhaps even wanting it. For the rest of Life’s victims, there is chance and circumstance and sheer bad luck. The old wrong time, wrong place equation.

I’ve listed below the main links in the Yahoo News for this morning, the 7th July 2010, two days after Marty McFly made it to the future in “Back To The Future II”, according to a hoax put out on Twitter by a UK publicity mob. The real date was October 2015, so we have a few years yet  before those hover skateboards and cars need make their appearance on our streets and sidewalks. The scary thing is that dumb people will get a hold of them and endanger us all because, as in 1985, we still have dumb people and unlucky people as well as some out and out mean and nasty people.

What one should ask oneself after reading the above list of what some editor has decided is ‘news’, is what didn’t make it onto your web page? What stories of struggle and sacrifice have been left out? There is an old saying in news media, “If it bleeds, it leads”. There is another belief that proximity plays a major part in what makes the news. If a baby girl was killed in another city it is in, but a grown woman would need to be right here in Sydney to make the headlines unless it was a slowish day. Interstate needs two or three bodies while in the USA or Europe we like to read of ten car pile ups and if it were Asia or Africa thent he body count has to be in the dozens, even hundreds to make it. The poorer the country, the more suffering we seem to be able to accept on their behalf before we need to know about it.
How has my society, and therefore myself, changed since Marty left 1985 and landed in my here and now? What’s new since then? CDs were just starting to make an impression with ‘Brothers In Arms’ by Dire Straights being the first CD to sell a million copies. I didn’t buy my first CD until the next decade. Commodore introduced the Amiga computer that year, Steve Jobs left Apple for NeXT and Palestinian terrorists were killing, kidnapping and carrying on. The world was still a dangerous place then, as now. Has it ever not been so?
I didn’t have a mobile phone then, I had a pager that beeped when someone wanted me. I had to find a phone and call the office and get the message. Finding a public telephone was problematic then due to vandalism, today they are just few and far between based on the presumption everybody carries their own communications device. I guess most of us do nowadays and they will soon be wrist sized units. Already Apple’s iPod 4 is offering video calling I believe. I saw a flying car make its debut the other day so there is another future icon gaining on us.
Back in 1985 my car was computer chip free. Are there any today that do not rely on computer chips to run efficiently? While the immediate concern is that if they break down then they are too hard for the average bloke to fix, the fact is they are getting far more reliable and breaking down a lot less than before. Compare how many cars you would see on the side of the road with the bonnet up in 1985 to today?
I used a typewriter to write my reports and stories in those days. Putting a newsletter together was a case of actually cutting and pasting, then photocopying and I can remember back to the days of the hand cranked Gestetner machine and the smelly purple ink they used. I left the Army in 1985 at the time the new ‘Gucci-flage’ uniforms were being trialled and the lightweight, bullpup Steyr F88 was being evaluated. Today our troops have helmet cams, body armour, night vision and even ballistic sunglasses. We had jungle greens and floppy hats and an L1A1 SLR that weighed twice as much but we knew little better.
Perhaps that’s the key. We don’t know how ‘bad off’ we are now until years later by which time today becomes one of the ‘good old days’. While technology and attitudes change, people stay very much as they were in some ways. They still seem to be able to hurt each other and to hate. I survived the last quarter of a century and I am confident I’ll swing the next 25 years. After that, who knows?

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