Years before I became a parent, I wondered to myself how the next generations would view my cohort of Gens X & Y. I think about the stuff that SO outraged my now-deceased paternal grandmother (body piercings! touring with Phish! “Colored people”!) and am baffled at about how old fashioned she seemed. She was a southern belle who moved to small-town Alaska in the mid-’50s with her second husband and posed for pictures with her shotgun, and I’m sure she thought she was quite progressive, moving to the Alaskan frontier with her family and all. If tongue piercing freaked her out, I have to wonder what will make me freak out in, say, fifty years.
“Fuck off, Gran,” Tavi’s daughter will tease me (because fuck then will be like darn is now). “Why are you always staring at my head?”
And I’ll be all, “Because Eros.Ion Bio(Hypercore), you have a plexiglass skull implant that means I can see your brain pulsing, and it’s freaking me out!”
Eros will roll her bionically corrected eyes (the Lasik surgery I had performed five years ago would have blown my grandmother’s mind) and reply, “Gran, you act like you’ve never seen a plexisKull. It’s no big deal.” Where will body modification and vanity go? My grandmother didn’t live to see my insane rainbow plastic extension dreadlocks, but if she had, I imagine the Southern Belle, mumbling into her sweet tea, “You’ve got a plastic wig sections tied to your head so you can have hair like the Black Ladies have? But rainbow colored? I just don’t understand…”
Anyway, evolutions in body modification and vanity is just one the easy and entertaining possibility to consider. I also try to imagine the relationship modalities that will blow my mind. Gay marriage to my grandmother? Bless her soul, but for her generation, homosexuality was a mental illness. Why would you make special marriages for those poor sick people? Listening to Robyn’s “Fembot” (“Once you go tech/you ain’t never goin’ back”) I had an overthinkingit.com moment of asking myself what I would do if Tavi came home from college engaged to his an android girlfriend. IT COULD HAPPEN, PEOPLE.
“God mom,” he’d huff at me over an awkward Thanksgiving meal. “Why can’t you just accept our love?”
I’ll be all, “Son, you fell in love with a glorified Hitachi back massager! You can’t GET MARRIED to your vibrator!”
No, wait. I swear I won’t ever say that to him. I’ll be completely accepting of his relationships, regardless of whatever seemingly bizarre kink or biomatter they may involve. Robots! Aliens! Dinosaurs cloned from generipped DNA! Anime Pillowcases! Stuffed animals! I imagine wearing my PFlag shirt and marching in the FURRY RIGHTS PARADE 2045: WE ARE NOT ANIMALS.
What about my opinions about personal privacy? Will they seem positive quaint to my son and his children? Think of presidents and drug use. Clinton hedged by saying, “I didn’t inhale.” Obama was like, “I inhaled. That was the point.” By the time our kids’ peers are national politicians, they’ll could dodge privacy concerns with a shrug.
“Of course you have crappy 2D pictures of my ass that I posted on facebook in high school. It’s pixelated and was the wilds of youth, and really: who DOESN’T have their imagery in the Library of Congress Digital Archives?”
The privacy issues that I clucked at young family on Facebook (“Dude, don’t talk about taking your stuff over the border. I don’t care, but dude: that’s a quick way to get in trouble with the people who do!”) may become irrelevant when our grandchildren can say, “Yeah, I was talking about taking what’s now the equivalent of a case of beer across a now non-existant national border in Empire Of Commerce.”
Who knows! I’m already feeling the ways in which my language is being left behind. As y’all know, language on the Empire isn’t always as politically correct as some might like — sometimes I’m the bumbling Gen Y dinosaur making accidental slurs against any number of minority groups. Language shifts fast, and it takes significant effort to keep up.
Then I consider what would happen if cultural mores shifted in ways I don’t even like to fathom. What if actions most of us can agree are morally wrong (obvious things: bestiality! child abuse! pick your most obvious horror!) became acceptable? What if society shifts in ways that make my skin crawl?
“GOD, Gran,” my half-android college-aged grandson might dismiss, with a wave of his geared hand. “What’s the big deal about about my 12-year-old boyfriend? Your old fashioned perspectives about statutory rape are so quaint!”
Even from my relatively progressive, live-and-let-live perspective there would definitely be issues that would make me go rant on the porch on the 125th floor of the Home For Aging Hippies Convalescent Center/Dispensary. I’d wave my air-cane at and shout, “No, seriously, you guys: college boys dating 12-year-olds is fucked up. Some shit went REALLY pear-shaped back in the inverted-renaissance ’30s.”
But the plexisKulls? The android fiance? The dreadlocks made out of writhing clone fingers, writhing like a Medusa, digitally grafted onto my grandkid’s scalps? The language that makes my current level of cursing seem quaint?
“Honey, I love you.” I’ll say. “If it makes you happy and involved informed consent without causing harm to others — I love you, even when I don’t understand you.”
Clearly, mulling over this situation makes my brain go sci-fi and a little dystopian. (Likely a reflection of reading too much fantasy/sci-fi young adult fiction.) Where does it take you? Where do you think YOUR kids will laugh (or sigh) over your old fashioned was? Where do you hope they’ll look back and laugh (“I can’t believe you guys were still quibbling over gay marriage, when we have interspecies relationships with the aliens now!”)? Where do you think we’ll get left behind? What will make you the old cranky grandmother?