Douglas Coupland’s Predictions for the Coming Decade

I read this a couple of months ago, but only now, in these early days of the new decade*, does it feel right to stamp out the ubiquitous optimism with some good doubt.

Douglas Coupland, a Canadian curmudgeon, lists 45 predictions for the coming decade. Here are the ones that strike me as particularly probable:

2) The future isn’t going to feel futuristic

It’s simply going to feel weird and out-of-control-ish, the way it does now, because too many things are changing too quickly. The reason the future feels odd is because of its unpredictability. If the future didn’t feel weirdly unexpected, then something would be wrong.

5) You’ll spend a lot of your time feeling like a dog leashed to a pole outside the grocery store – separation anxiety will become your permanent state

8) Try to live near a subway entrance

In a world of crazy-expensive oil, it’s the only real estate that will hold its value, if not increase.

10) In the same way you can never go backward to a slower computer, you can never go backward to a lessened state of connectedness

24) It is going to become much easier to explain why you are the way you are

Much of what we now consider “personality” will be explained away as structural and chemical functions of the brain.

38) Knowing everything will become dull

It all started out so graciously: At a dinner for six, a question arises about, say, that Japanese movie you saw in 1997 (Tampopo), or whether or not Joey Bishop is still alive (no). And before long, you know the answer to everything.

And here are some that don’t seem likely at all:

7) Retail will start to resemble Mexican drugstores

In Mexico, if one wishes to buy a toothbrush, one goes to a drugstore where one of every item for sale is on display inside a glass display case that circles the store. One selects the toothbrush and one of an obvious surplus of staff runs to the back to fetch the toothbrush. It’s not very efficient, but it does offer otherwise unemployed people something to do during the day.

11) Old people won’t be quite so clueless

No more “the Google,” because they’ll be just that little bit younger.

13) Enjoy lettuce while you still can

And anything else that arrives in your life from a truck, for that matter. For vegetables, get used to whatever it is they served in railway hotels in the 1890s. Jams. Preserves. Pickled everything.

14) Something smarter than us is going to emerge

Thank you, algorithms and cloud computing.

20) North America can easily fragment quickly as did the Eastern Bloc in 1989

Quebec will decide to quietly and quite pleasantly leave Canada. California contemplates splitting into two states, fiscal and non-fiscal. Cuba becomes a Club Med with weapons. The Hate States will form a coalition.

32) Musical appreciation will shed all age barriers

Draw your own conclusions after reading the full list at the Globe and Mail.

[Article via the Browser. Image via Maet32’s photobucket]

* The 21st century began on January 1st, 2001. Therefore, the first decade of the 21st century ended a few days ago. We can argue about this if you want, but that exercise would be wholly redundant.

January 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Reading.


  1. Matt replied:


    I think usually would say that the first decade began on Jan 1st 2000.

    But you are right.

    This is a version of the problem of the year 0. There is no year 0. So the first decade of the current era (the “Common Era”, C.E.) began on Jan. 1 of 1 CE, and the first decade must have ended only after the conclusion of the 10th year of the era, 10 CE.

    And so on, until 1991–2000.

    So, 1/1/11 was the first day of a new decade, and here’s my prediction for the decade: I’ll be 52 when it’s over. I’ll finally get that 300 lb 5 rep back squat. First Democrats and then Republicans screw stuff up pretty badly both here and also in Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, and Pakistan (i.e. more of the same). More and more of us use Solar and grow our own Lettuce and ride bikes, skateboards, and electric vehicles. Everybody will get bored of Facebook. My salary will continue to stagnate, but that won’t matter because I’ll publish an interesting book… or two!

  2. Phil Bost replied:

    My optimistic predictions: Gay marriage will be legal in the US. Congressional redistricting will be either mathematical or done by impartial committee. Massive jobs program for the ~15% of the society that we don’t really need to function (a form of wealth redistribution). Congressional term limits. 400 lb 5 rep back squat ;). I’ll get paid for doing my passion (whatever the hell that is/will be).
    Pessimistic predictions: ^^Those ideas up there?^^ Yeah right.

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