January 2015

Line in the Sand:is 2015 going to be awesome?

Author: Courtney Hampson & Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Photography by Anne

I have some bad news, guys. No matter what Mrs. Brightside over there says about how wonderfully amazingly astoundingly fantastic 2015 is going to be, I’m going to prove her wrong. Not as a matter of opinion but as irrefutable empirical fact. And when I’m done you’ll have no doubt that whatever 2015 winds up being, no matter how great it is, it won’t be what it could have been.

It won’t matter if they finally cure cancer, wipe out all disease, end world hunger, usher in a golden age of prosperity in which all of mankind lives in harmony or invent cheeseburger-flavored vegetables in the next 12 months. No matter what happens, 2015 will not be that great.

Because we’ve already been given a vision of the 2015 we could have had, and no grand accomplishments in the next 12 months can possibly live up to that vision. The 2015 I speak of, the 2015 we’ll never measure up to, is of course the 2015 from Back to the Future Part II.

For those not in the know, Back to the Future Part II was a 1989 sequel that saw Marty McFly traveling 30 years into the future from his native 1985 (which was considered the present in 1989 because for some reason it took four years to film a sequel). This future was the astonishing year 2015.

As context, the first film saw Marty travel 30 years into the past to 1955, a time that, when I first watched the film, seemed like an impossibly long time ago. “Look at these troglodytes,” I would have said if I knew what that word meant back then. “They don’t even know what Pepsi Free is. Their tiny caveman TVs don’t show any color. I mean, they didn’t even have skateboards back then; how hard is a skateboard to invent?”

Compared to the stark differences between 1985 and the impossibly archaic 1955, the portrayal of 2015 we saw in the sequel seemed pretty obtainable, almost as if it was a reasonable assumption based on the march of progress so far.

Watching Back to the Future Part II at the time it came out, it only made sense that we were just 30 years (or 26; who’s counting?) from flying cars, robot waitresses, holographic sharks jumping out at us from movie posters and, of course, hoverboards.

This all just seemed like what 2015 would be when I watched that movie as a kid. This was the future I was raised to believe I would one day come back to.

Sure doesn’t seem at all like the 2015 we got, does it? Rather than build our way to that utopia, what is the 2015 we chose to pursue?

Do we have flying cars? No, but we sure have a crapload of drones. Rather than easily zip from one place to another in our own airborne Delorean, we’ve settled for the ability to take stunning HD GoPro footage of our neighbors’ backyards. And that’s just what we do with them. I won’t even go into what the government’s doing with them.

Do we have robot waitresses? No, but we do have that creepy “Big Dog” thing that started showing up on everyone’s Facebook feeds a while back. You know the one I’m talking about: the four-legged nightmare fuel murderbot that showed a grown man could try to kick it over and it would just keep pursuing him. Sweet dreams!

Do we have holographic sharks? No, but we do have new holographic TSA officials (this is true; Google it) stationed at various parts of some airports reminding us of the long list of clothing articles we have to remove, toiletries we have to seal in Ziploc baggies, and probes we must unclench to receive as we go through security.

Besides, if we had the ability to project holographic sharks at people on the street, do you honestly think we’d use it responsibly? You know darn well if that technology existed you’d be dodging three-dimensional Geico geckos with every step you took around town.

Now we did manage to bring back holographic Tupac. So score one for the future. Then the company that existed solely to bring back holographic Tupac went bankrupt due to the high cost of bringing back holographic Tupac. So call that one a draw because we’re hilariously short-sighted these days.

And hoverboards. Do we have hoverboards? No, and it’s probably a good thing we don’t. Because they’d be on the streets for all of 12 seconds before the personal injury lawsuits would start rolling in.

There was a time when 2015 seemed like it would hold so much promise. What’s more, it seemed like the only kind of 2015 we’d end up with. We’d come so far from the ’50s; imagine how much further we’ll go.

The immense gulf of progress that separated 1955 from 1985 was pretty much the point of every gag in the first movie. Viewed from the lens of the ’80s, the ’50s seemed like they could have taken place on a different planet, ruled by technologically inept, casually racist simpletons.

Now look back on 1985 through the lens of the present. Do you feel like we’ve made that same leap in progress as a culture? Does the gulf of 30 years seem as impressive? Or does the present just feel pretty much exactly the same as 1985, only with everyone staring at their phones all the time to avoid looking too hard at how dismal things are and how great they could have been?

Sorry, guys. 2015 might wind up being good, but it will never be hoverboard good.

Optimism? Where we’re going we don’t need optimism.

Courtney Hampson
I know. I know. I am going soft on you. I agreed to argue the positive side of this one. Is the earth off its axis? Could it be possible that my glass is half full? When Barry lobbed the, “Is 2015 going to be awesome or terrible” question, and then threw in a, “I can argue either side” kicker, I decided that just this once I could let him be the bad guy.

I mean it is easy, as media, to report the bad stuff; a good writer (wink, wink) enlightens you about the good things that are happening. Allow me.

In 2014, I wrote about Army veteran Jake Walsh and the Honor Our Heroes Foundation’s efforts to combat the effects of PTSD and do something to lower the staggering veteran suicide statistics. I tackled the Bluffton Fire Department’s PACE Test, and have never had more appreciation for these heroes who are getting their behinds kicked on a daily basis. I took one for the team and taste-tested my way through Holy Tequila’s menu, I researched the most ridiculous laws, and poured by heart out for my love of dogs.

I have to believe that just from the snapshot above, 2015 has some real promise. What if, in 2015, we saw the data shift? What if the number of veteran suicides dropped instead of rising, again? Today that number stands at 22 per day. What if we work together to try to change that? Isn’t that our duty?

What if, in 2015, I am able to convince the Bluffton Fire Department to let me produce a calendar of their “hottest” looks? (I’m kidding, just making sure you are still reading.) What if, by drawing a little more attention to this noble professional, recruit interest increased? What if some women considered joining the department? Girls, you can be anything you want to be.

I don’t ever want to consider a world without tacos and tequila. What if, in 2015, the tides of the bad economy truly recede and more local businesses find success? I’ll drink to that.

I’m working on a Sunday again, which I now know is against the law. But, what if, in 2015, everyone works on their sense of humor for crying out loud. What if there was more laughter in our lives?

What if, in 2015, everyone fills their pockets with tennis balls and loves a dog. Thousands of dogs in Beaufort County are euthanized each year because they don’t have homes. What if, you adopt one, instead of buying one?

I realize that is a lot of what ifs, and there is only so much I can control, despite my desire for world domination. So, personally, in 2015, I am going to stop beating myself up for messing up. And so should you. The December issue featured a story about the Bluffton Fire Department PACE test that I’ve wanted to write for years. I spent more hours on that story than my other stories combined. It was a true labor of love. And, when the issue hit mailboxes and newsstands, and I was told that I made a mistake, I was devastated. My initial response to the person who told me was similar to Ralphie’s reaction to knocking all of the lug nuts out of the hubcap. And, like Ralphie, I didn’t say, “Fudge.”

Steve ARNOLD, you yelled in my ear for all six minutes and 17 seconds of that PACE test, and I am mortified that I got your last name wrong in the story. I am sorry.

In 2015, I am going to focus on doing only the things that I enjoy. And, so should you. I started running two years ago, because someone put into my head that I could run a half marathon. I hated running, but I did it anyway, to prove that I could; and like Forest Gump, I just didn’t stop. Oddly, after finishing my tenth race of 2014, I saw a picture of myself at the finish line, and I was smiling. Clarity!

In 2015, I am going to put some yoga in my life in an effort to find some balance. And, so should you (find balance that is). In our hyper-techno world, there is truly no other way to escape the ringing-dinging-tweeting devices. You can’t do pigeon with a phone in your pocket. Fact.

2015 will be what we make, it so make it awesome for yourself, and others.

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