I have a large appetite. Recently I was laid up with Strep Throat - a horrible tonsil infection that made it difficult to swallow. Aside from the pain, I was alarmed to discover that I'd lost my appetite; a very rare occurrence. Usually when I'm ill, I comfort myself with the prospect of a buttery crumpet or warming bowl of soup, the very idea of a yummy morsel is enough to keep me going. But when my taste buds went on strike, life suddenly seemed a lot less delicious.
Call me greedy but I like to engage my senses and sample lots of different tastes and smells; I wouldn't want to miss out on the next best flavour combination. And so, I was delighted to read futurist, James Wallman, compare our future to an 8-course tasting menu. In a new report released this week, he reflects on the implications that our longer lives will have on society: namely that they will create new life stages. Rather than the usual '3-course set menu' that is the 'education-work-retirement' sequence, the next generation will be living 7 or 8 stages - who wouldn't be interested in a more varied menu of lifestyle options?
Cultural norms are shifting and, in this new era of longevity, people are breaking the traditional moulds that have previously defined status. Cultural commentator and co-founder of the Women's Equality Party, Catherine Mayer, says life-extension and life-enhancing technologies like the ability to freeze eggs are leading to an age of 'amortality', when people live agelessly and "rarely ask themselves if their behaviour is age appropriate because that concept has little meaning for them". Suddenly questions like 'when shall I have kids?' and 'when should I settle down?' aren't so urgent. Now that's refreshing.
What's more, Wallman suggests that our identities will become far more fluid; as well as opting for portfolio careers and pick 'n' mix religion, our gender will become more of a personal choice. A growing number of non-binary personalities like Caitlyn Jenner and RuPaul are already leading the way in highlighting the gender spectrum, which certainly has more than fifty shades of grey. Come on Tinder, keep up.
As more people experiment, Wallman suggests that the equality agenda will shift beyond gender, he says: "Intersectionality has become a key word in the feminist movement: it describes how all forms of oppression - like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism - are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another."
Can you imagine the freedom that would come with living in a bias-free world that recognises these nuances? The struggle for power between women and men would become irrelevant. And, while we're on that, Wallman envisages a new movement of 'Masculism' emerging, in which men, with women's support, will have the opportunity to re-define what being a man means. Men will be welcomed as nurturers and caregivers.
Well, this all sounds highly palatable to me, Wallman is the MasterChef of the future and I will be sitting at his table. If all this seems a bit overwhelming and you feel like you've already got enough on your plate, I have a tried and tested piece of advice - suck it and see.
Read Wallman's full report here.
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