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Your first reaction to the title might be – this guy’s got his numbers wrong; or it’s a typo. Surely he means 2022? No, we’re taking a peep 100 years ahead, and back a couple of centuries to 1922 and 1822 and reflect on whether global society - for this purpose the developed world – has improved; and how do you measure that?

The advances between 1822 and 1922 were phenomenal. Electricity, telephone, refrigeration and motor transport, were the new luxuries of 1922. In 1822 life was isolated with only the wealthy ever moving out of the community; a normal working life was, for most, one of manual labour in subsistence farming. Life expectancy was very low. On the other hand, in 1922 the TV, computer, cellphone, outer space travel and penicillin were not yet even on the drawing board. There will continue to be scientific and technological innovation into the future, though not necessarily pro-rata with the volume of research applied. But I’m willing to bet you (E10 on certainties) that by 2122 we will all be driving electric vehicles in corridors above cities, to rendezvous points with a downward shuttle to dry land; no traffic jams. Sorry I won’t be around to pay up if I’m wrong.

The word ‘cash’, for instance, will, by 2122, be unfamiliar to all except the centenarians that haven’t yet lost their memory. Debit and credit cards will only be found three metres down in dumpsites. In 2122 there probably won’t even be mobile phones. At least people will then look ahead when they’re walking down the road. Technological innovation has sadly been as destructive as constructive. It produced weapons of mass destruction (not always in the place expected – sorry Mr Blair), especially since 1922 with the machine gun, and the nuclear arsenals that could destroy half the world; for 2122 disarmament is an impossible dream. In the meantime, let’s hope Mr Putin does not become as crazy as his behaviour suggests. And will the USA manage to keep guns away from the unbalanced malcontents?


The personal conviviality of the earlier centuries is likely to continue fading within the physical detachment encouraged by the social media and entertainment from mobile devices. Imagine by comparison the domestic life of 1822, with family evenings spent reading stories aloud by candlelight; talking, singing and playing music together. The gap between rich and poor shows no sign of reducing except in the few social-welfare committed countries of the world. The wealthy will acquire a longer lease on the agility and material beauty of youth, by acquiring new limbs and enhanced appearance respectively, in line with medical advancement. Superficiality and vanity will remain dominant features of mankind. Personal identity will continue to redraw the boundaries.

Homosexuality was widely practised across the world in earlier centuries while largely illegal. Today the word is ‘gay’ and if you didn’t know what ‘non-binary gender’ means (avoiding being male or female), you do now. By 2122 you could be male Monday to Wednesday and female the rest of the week; or neither for the whole week. And, in 2122, many more people will be paying for the ‘deep freeze’ after death, hoping for resurrection when the respective terminal malady is curable. Virtual activity gained popularity and respectability during COVID-19 but the technology carries moral and other risks. The gathering of individual personal preference data will threaten personal privacy.


‘Tuesday-Nxumalo’ rightly noted last week the neo-colonisation underway by China. Let’s not forget Russia. Both countries have programmes more modern and subtle than British, French, Spanish and Portuguese colonial behaviour, but the same nationalistic greed and lust for more global control will continue to grow. But I would argue that there is a higher proportion of decent people in the world today. A significant contributor to the aberrations of yesteryear, such as slavery, was because people, especially those of influence, weren’t generally very nice in those days. Or tolerant; in the England of 1822 you would be executed for stealing a sheep. No option of a fine!

Beneficial catalysts – there’s got to be far more than we know happening in the airwaves above us – will emerge and make us wonder how we missed them. And far more attention will be given to pandemic prevention. Will the world be a better and happier place in 2122? Not directly measurable other than perhaps GDP per capita, combined with rate of violent deaths and degree of global warming? The first is a measure of poverty alleviation, the second is of peace in the world and the third, combined with the second, is whether we’ll have a world at all.
I’m told I won’t be around in 100 years’ time and I have no definitive evidence of whether that’s a good or bad thing. But what I envy those in 2122 for is video film of life two centuries back to 1922. You needn’t be a dedicated historian to find such an experience truly fascinating.

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