Jack Uldrich
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The Future is Only Skin-Deep

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This past weekend my daughter (age 10) went with her mother to visit the Titantic Exhibit at the Science Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota. When she returned she noted that they had “white powder” on the ship. She explained that the “rich people” used it to mask their skin because they viewed being tan as the “mark” of a common laborer. Today, “rich” people (as well as others) go to great lengths to tan their skin and, in many quarters, being tan is perceived as a mark of affluence.

It is just another reminder that the future is incredibly hard to predict because it is not simply technology which changes (e.g. tanning booths, tanning creams, etc) it is also society’s social and cultural mores.


For example, look at this picture of the future from the 1950’s. The artist depicts women as wearing dresses and performing household chores. My point is that he completely missed the “cultural revolution” and the idea that many women would be working.

If you want to study the future I suggest you reflect long and hard on how different advances might yield unexpected changes in people’s behaviors.


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