I love me some predictions for the future, especially ones like these predictions about future microbe science. While clearly not yet supported by any hard science, predictions like these seem to be such logical extrapolations of what we know now, that I’ll have a hard time not thinking of these as established facts already.
One quote got me thinking a think that I’ll be sharing with you. The quote is:
“Today, our seniors are overmedicated and isolated – walled off from the larger metacommunity and its potential steady stream of health-giving diversity.”
I predict that we may all one day recognize that separated living is detrimental to human physical, mental and social health. Shared communities with a close continuum of private, semi-private and public spaces mimic our tribal roots and prevent the problems that we have when elderly are sequestered, troubled people are alone and unseen, and so forth.
For example, a building may have a common area, with some basic shops and amenities, spaces that the residents can rent (or just sign up and use) for private parties, to display and sell things they made, and plenty of lounge and social gathering space. These would be directly connected to living spaces – apartments, condos. The building would have a good deal of depth or height – the farther away from the common areas you go, the more private you get.
You could pay more money to have a residence that is very nearly a standalone single-family home – or may be standalone – but that is still intimately connected to the common areas. For less money (and for people who do not want such a private and cut-off space), there’s that continuum of options, from dormitories very near the common spaces that share bathrooms, kitchens etc with each other, to condos that are mostly private but not very large.
They’d be smaller and intentionally designed to encourage their residents to get out of their private zones for everything but their truly private activities. Eat your breakfast in the common area. Take a nap in the public park. When you want to watch some Netflix in your spare time, check the screening rooms in the public space for an opening and just watch it there, and maybe some people will watch with you. Everyone has their own preferences, of course, and some folks are more social and private than others, but I think that the only activities that people relatively universally need privacy for are sex, overnight sleep, personal hygiene, watching young children, and managing their valuables and personal food and belongings. Most of the functions that we tend to do at our desks, in our living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens are perhaps better done in public or semi-public spaces.
There are of course plenty of places like this, especially in less affluent parts of the world, and in a lot of ways densely populated cities naturally create this kind of environment, with bars and cafes and coffee shops serving for the common, communal areas. But I think as time goes on, we’ll design these kinds of spaces more purposefully, and more intentionally arrange ourselves such that it is hard for anyone to be isolated.
For some reason, in the first world, we associate maturity with privacy. As you get older, you’re supposed to move into spaces that are harder and harder for strangers or mere acquaintances to access. We seem to have a social fear of nosy people, of potential thieves and pushers and traveling salesmen, of demon pedophiles who will come and steal our children if we live in a locked-door apartment in a locked-door apartment building mere feet from a totally public and highly trafficked city street – instead of miles away in manicured suburbia.
We feel this need to move far, farther away from the influences of potentially disagreeable society, so we can have near total control of our environments and the interactions our children have. I think this is probably going to be a tendency that we recognize as poisonous in the long run, and suburbia will slowly die off and apartment family living will lose its vague underclass stigma. It will make much more sense to either live in dense cities, or in peaceful rural areas that have that old-timey front-door-always-open gather-at-the-general-store feel – but not in between, in isolating suburbs.
So it is predicted, so it is written. Dun dun dun. Thanks for reading.