Making predictions is always difficult and risky; after all, unexpected technological advances can alter our world and we, interactive creatures that we are, will adapt to it. However, I feel like most of the advances that affected our quality of life already happened in the past 25 years. Of course, there have been improvements in technology; we can now easily access the Internet from our cell phones, for instance and we might yet see other developments; but the main changes have already happened.
Cell phones and the Internet brought the great tech revolution; the great human revolution came with a pill that put birth control in women’s hands, and with their ascension in the workforce
What were the immediate consequences of these advances? Single people’s lives vastly improved, as they can now easily find entertainment and they have access to modern home appliances that are very helpful to those who live alone. So individualism – a desire to live according to one’s values, without compromise – could only grow. We shouldn’t think negatively of these develpments; they are a step forward that allows people to perceive themselves as independent adults.
The growth of individualism and the end of social bias against the lifestyle of the single or divorced has increased the number of people who prefer to live this way. These days, the homes that are most frequently built and sell the most in larges cities such as São Paulo, in Brazil, are meant for single people. Home entertainment and virtual communication have grown easier and more frequent, and that includes the search for erotic or romantic relationships. Those who don’t enjoy hanging out at bars, don’t drink and are not night owls prefer searching for friends and love on the Internet. It’s absolutely a sensible path, in which one gets to know someone else “inside” first, unlike what happens in the real world.
In this new world, I believe we’ll see virtual and real experiences as equal; large cities, as they become more crowded, are increasingly harder to navigate, so virtual relationships will become more common.
Are we moving toward a solitary lifestyle? I don’t believe so, except as a phase in people’s lives. However, as the quality of life for single people improves, bad marriages will tend to disappear. The “cut-off grade” will be the standard of living of single people. In other words, good romantic relationships, in which individuality is respected, and are based on compatibility of character, interests, tastes and life projects will be the ones that offer a better life than the one led by single people. Only this kind of relationship will survive. They are the new kind of romantic connection of the 21st century, one quite similar to friendship in several aspects, that I call +love.
Also, people will have more free time; there will be less work to divide between all, so working hours will be reduced and people will retire later, as the average life expectancy has only been growing. Couples also have more free time now, as they have fewer children (an average of 1.8 per woman in Brazil and 1.3 in Germany). All this extra time can be a gift to those who know how to enjoy it, whether doing sports, cultural activities, hanging out with friends or practicing a variety of hobbies. There is a danger, of course, of increased legal or illegal drug use to lessen the boredom of the idle, but in general, more free time is a good thing.
An issue that has escaped the attention of many, but I believe is extremely important, is that eroticism and sex are losing importance. From what I’ve seen, young people are increasingly uninterested in the matter – they don’t speak much about sex at all. It seems sex was relevant to previous generations because it was taboo, and suffered all kinds of restrictions and limits. When there is abundance, however, interest immediately decreases! If, in fact, sex becomes less important, people will likely buy fewer clothes and accessories that connected, directly or not, with erotic appeal. If that happens, social life will begin a new phase.
Tradução: Amanda Morris