Books I've Read

The Future of Me

I pretty much love anything titled “…Through the Decades.” Looking back on how far we’ve come is not only nostalgic, but it’s almost always good for a laugh.

Like, this portable radio from the 1970s? I bet people back then were all over this. The latest in technology to bring sports, music, and news wherever you wanted.

Photo from rickster-23 on Photobucket

But compare that to an iPod? Hilarious.

Photo from jarhettcastro on Photobucket

Of course, it’s only because we have the ability to look back that we can laugh. Kind of like when our parents reminisce about the eight track tape. (If that statement made you say, “What??”, go HERE) Oh, silly parents. Get another cocktail and let’s listen to Pandora. On my Smart TV. Now we’re talking.

Anyway, in my quest to build the world’s tallest TBR book pile, I recently bought The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler. And I’ve bumped it to the top of the stack. The premise is that two teens in 1996, through an AOL CD-ROM (remember those? The kind you got in the mail), are able to see their Facebook pages 15 years in the future. For me, anyway, it’s nostalgia and time travel all in one book. I’ll be honest–I was 16 in 1996, which is like 95% of this book’s appeal for me. I think I’ll relate to these characters on both levels–the teenage versions and the adult versions. Since they are exactly my age. My brain is sort of exploding right now.

Super cool, right? Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. 

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right – and wrong – in the present

I’m excited to read it and the whole premise has me thinking. What would my past self have seen if she was viewing my life, today, from her perspective 15 years ago? From a technological standpoint alone, the changes are astounding.

I couldn't find a 1996 picture, this is pretty close: Band camp circa 1997. I was 17. Aw, look. I'm wearing a hemp necklace. And there's a scrunchie on my wrist. And those are "cut-off" shorts that I paid for. How cute! (Photo credit: Nancy Ebert)

The average home in the 1990s. For a fun look at technology through the decades, check out http://www.time-warp.org.

  • First of all, look at how much TVs have changed. Mine is hanging from the wall right now. And it can do fancy things. Like connect to the internet. Which would be totally impossible in 1996, back when my mom used Prodigy. Which was the bane of my existence because the cool people used AOL.
  • And video games? Can you even play Tetris on a handheld game anymore? That was the pinnacle of my Game Boy career–getting to the super fast, crazy-ass levels of Tetris. Now video games show you how to do things like steal cars. And beat up hookers. And those are skills totally worth teaching kids. (Um. Sorry. I went all Mom there for a minute)
  • What about stereos? In 1996 I was so happy to have my boom box with detachable speakers. Those speakers made it look like a legitimate sound system. And it had 2 tape decks (for optimal recording tapes from tapes action) and a CD player. So I suppose not only could I record tapes from tapes, I could record tapes from CDs and the radio. It was mix-tape heaven. Or perhaps early piracy. Hmm.
  • Computers? My computer back then had fewer gigabytes than your average iPod these days. When I left for college in the fall of 1998, I used my graduation money to buy my first computer. It was so fancy. Six gigs of RAM which my mother swore I’d NEVER be able to fill. It was just so much. Who could possibly use it all?

Let’s not forget about the mind-blowing information of finding out who I’m married to, how many kids I have, and where I live. Shocking, to say the least.

Makes me wonder how shocked my today-self would be to see my future-self 15 years from now? How much will things change between then and now? Will the robots have taken over by then? Will Terminator be real? 2026 is only 3 years shy of when Cyborg Arnold ventured back to 1984.

(By the way, I’m not even going to talk about how depressing it is that 1996 can be considered “Historical Fiction”. I think I just sprouted another gray hair. )

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18 thoughts on “The Future of Me

  1. Okay so you just made me feel super old. In ’97, I was in my senior year of high school, and clearly remember thinking that I was “da bomb” after receiving my first page on my beeper. lol! Those were the days… 🙂

  2. oh wow..1996..I was in my final year at Uni..never owned a compute, never used the internet till another 2 years later…gawd I’m old..lol

    • Aw!

      It’s funny the difference just a few years made for how things work in college. Because in 1998 I had to make a website as an assignment in one of my college lit classes and we handed in our papers by posting them to our websites. This was before blogs, of course. But I think I had a very forward-thinking prof.

      I dated this boy after college who was 5 years older than me. I mentioned how when I was in college file sharing was just starting and how you could share music on the university folder system (before Napster). They all looked at me like I was speaking Greek. In just a few years the online/computer experience had totally changed thing. It’s amazing.

  3. I have just added that book to my on TBR mountain! Wow, the whole thing sounds so cool, I was a few years older than you in ’96 and already had my 2 kids, just out of my ‘teens’ (I was 20 that year! yikes) but it will resonate so much with me too, guess it’s just it was ‘our era’ so many memories of the early 90’s pagers rather than mobile phones, sega master-system… damn I feel old 😦

    • Right? I know the book mentions a lot of the technology from back then (like Caller ID being brand new). It’s a YA book, but I think a lot of people our age will enjoy it too. Even if they aren’t normally YA fans.

  4. Since you made WeGotKidz feel super old, know I know I’m officially Methuselah. (Hope I spelled that right) … alright, so I’m fossilized.

    Interestingly, change is a matter of perspective, and each of us will see interesting changes in our life time … after all, our timelines have an overlapping period and each with a before and after.

    BTW … what a coincidence … here’s my recent post.

    http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/on-i-remember-these/

  5. AOL CDs?
    Fish Made Out Of Old AOL CDs

    Also, my first pc didn’t have a hard drive. It was all done by floppy (5 1/4″)
    To upgrade Ram, you had to insert these massive spider-like ram chips on to the motherboard

    And was 8-track ever a good idea?

    • That fish is super cool! I remember reading a Facebook post or blog post somewhere that listed all these uses for old AOL CDs. So funny.

      And I remember those old Floppies. I think I played many games of Oregon Trail using those :).

      And no, I don’t think the 8-track was ever a good idea. Luckily they didn’t stick around too long. My only experience with one was when I would visit my grandmother, she had this old robot kids toy that took 8-track tapes. It was awesome.

  6. I’d already added this to my list after your comment on my blog but now I’m thinking I need to bump it up too.

    But I won’t go into the feeling old thing, LOL, cause clearly, I am.

  7. Good grief, I had been married a few years and was in graduate school in 1996. Moreover, I’m jealous that you even had a computer in your home. I had an Atari system, on which we played Asteroids and PacMan. And I SWEAR my family had that 1970’s portable radio; it looks so familiar. My MP3 player now is a Sony Walkman brand, but my first Walkman (which I thought was da bomb) was a cassette player with chunky headphones. I could go on and on and on.

    The book sounds interesting. I read Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, and it was written very well.

    • 🙂

      We only had a computer because my grandparents moved and gave theirs to my mom. It’s sort of weird to think my grandparents had one and we didn’t, but I suppose you can afford luxuries (which is what they were back then) when you don’t have kids at home anymore,huh?

      The computer I bought in 1998 was my first computer and it was so high tech then. Now it would be a dinosaur. I don’t think it even had a USB drive. And I remember saving all my college work on ZIP disks, not USBs. Funny.

      13 Reasons Why is on my Christmas list :).

  8. I think I’m about the same age as the person who claimed to be Methuselah, as well as fossilized, and you are about a year older than my daughter. (shakes his head) But it’s okay, because at 55 years old, I’m used to the idea that I’ve been around for a while. You were 16 years old right about the time that electronic and computer tech went into hyper-drive as far as astoundingly rapid advancement, and you grew up during an extraordinary era. Anyway, it sounds like an interesting book, and I’ll watch for it.

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