Explaining 2018 to H.G. Wells

Time travel is one of my favorite fictitious plot devices. The concept is practically the cheapest way of getting yourself out of a plot jam — “Oh crud, how does the hero get out of this predicament that I’ve written myself into? I’ve got it! He travels back in time and saves himself!” The tawdriness of it aside, I can thank one Mr. Herbert George Wells for introducing the literary device into the public consciousness. H.G. Wells wrote such prototypical novels as “War of the Worlds” and “The Time Machine.”

I’ve dabbled in writing time traveling stories, finding myself ever apprehensive because of the inherent danger of becoming cliche. As I was mulling over the concept, and how I’d differentiate my works from the likes of Wells, I had to consider my jump off point. My moment-prime (the time in which a protagonist exists before traversing time becomes an option) would be right now, 2018. That gave me an incredible thought: imagine going back in time and having to explain your technology to someone publishing “the Time Machine” in 1895.

In 1895, when “the Time Machine” had been published, the first Professional American Football game was being played in Latrobe, Pennsylvania — the first World War hadn’t broken out yet, the first auto race was being held in Italy. The world wasn’t in the stone age, but it hadn’t even begun to discover innovation on the scale we have it now. There are many things that we have in our possession that would make us appear alien to someone like Mr. Wells. For this week’s blog, I thought it would be fun to try and explain how we’re living in 2018.

  1. Humankind has been to the surface of the moon — we’re actually bored with it and haven’t done so in quite a few decades.

  2. Newspapers are functionally obsolete — we now collect news from around the world instantly through a network of computers called the Internet. Some would have you believe that printing news made history in moments on paper would be ecologically irresponsible.

  3. I have, in my pocket, a device that will allow me to contact anyone in the world at any moment. This device can collect news, financial data, tell me what the weather is like outside, what the weather will be like tomorrow (with fairly high accuracy), and humankind uses this technology to crush candy, take pictures of their food, and listen to music.

  4. Speaking of music, just about any song that has ever been performed can be produced by this device in an instant.

  5. Movies can be watched, at home, without having to own any physical media that the movies are stored on.

  6. Books can be instantly read through small hand-held devices without having to go to a store or library to get them. This same concept applies to buying clothing, groceries, even motor vehicles.

  7. Seeing someone’s face who is a great distance away from you is now readily available to just about anyone.

  8. Every day, more and more cars are running on electricity.

  9. Simple mathematics, like addition and subtraction, are a lot more difficult now. The educators have called it “common core” math and I’m not entirely certain they are still using that anymore.

  10. People have pretended to do yard work for leisure — they called it “Farmville.”

  11. Much like your story, “War of the Worlds,” caused hysteria when Orson Welles broadcast it as a radio play and people thought it was a news broadcast, people believe that facts to be gospel as long as it was seen on a social denominator known as “Facebook.”

  12. Most people’s wages are paid without seeing any actual currency — an employer will send wages to the employee’s bank through technology similar to the telephone or telegraph.

  13. Some people would actually rather die than go to the hospital out of fear of the medical bills that can befall someone without health insurance.

  14. People have actually taken a stance against drinking straws, as they create a residual pollution that is getting out of hand — most of these people embattled against drinking straws are the same people that would rather die than go into medical debt.

  15. On all sides of this absurdity is logic. We are no longer oppressed by the voice of mass media, but every voice has a chance to be heard. We are slowly realizing that we no longer have to be controlled by the few, but that the needs of the many will be heard in riotous thunder. Slowly, but surely, both sides of the arguments will see that the other side wants what they want: to be secure, to have the means to prosper, and to not be dictated to.

We’re not a perfect culture, not by any stretch or measure. We are evolving and that’s important. This blog was meant to satirize how silly we all are, but that satirization too evolved into something serious — let’s all take a moment and not be too serious, to have a laugh at the people we are. Being able to satirize ourselves is how we keep balance and perspective.

I believe in you. I believe in us. I believe in humanity.

Stop. Stop hating people. Stop being so vile and venomous towards your fellow man. Stop being ready to employ the nuclear option at minor indiscretions.

The Universe is listening.

One thought on “Explaining 2018 to H.G. Wells

  1. I like to imagine time travel to break the news to Orwell that yes, 1984 will be heard loud and clear, taught in English classes across the nation, but in the end we will still willingly give our personal details, and even DNA to databases, to corporations in control of our media for access to entertainment.

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