I was perusing FACEBOOK, looking for story ideas, checkout what folks are talking about (right now, there’s a lot about the election of the new Pope) when I came across the posting of a rather odd video, circa early 1930s, predicting the ladies’ “fashions of the Year 2000!” (And you can check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9eAiy0IGBI).
Well, as you can imagine, some of it was pretty ridiculous…like the woman’s headpiece that features an oversized flashlight stuck to it, or the dress with removable parts that can make it adaptable to day, afternoon or evening wear (sounds like a good idea, but I don’t think too many women would appreciate a dress that’s reminiscent of Mrs. Potato Head).
Still, there were some interesting ideas raised here, albeit with laughable execution. Case in point, the brief mention of men’s wear. Though the model looked like he was an extra from Ed Woods’ “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” the idea that he would have a personal phone he could carry with him was pretty forward thinking.
Then there was the designer who dared say that women “might not wear skirts at all.” A woman wearing some form of PANTS? Has the world gone MAD???
My point is, chuckles aide, sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step away from the “putting-out-fires” mentality to take a moment to consider what lies ahead. We in PR are quite adept at that as we are, as my Dad always advised me, “anticipating problems.” What can go wrong down the road? What is a coming trend that may impact my client directly or my client’s industry as a whole?
What about PR in general? What does the future hold? We already can see the impact social media and the internet is having—a crisis can spiral out of control, go viral, go national and international in just moments thanks to YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK and the like.
Movies like “Minority Report” offer insights into new ways to market, with shops that can read your image and retinal scan, access information about you and next thing you’ve got a talking digital video talking to you, Mr. Dan Collins, about a product or service (http://www.inquisitr.com/79910/those-minority-report-style-billboards-th...). And according to articles like this one from Inquisitr.com, such technology is getting closer all the time.
I for one think that the days of receiving information that involve going into a room and staring at a box or screen, even one that’s handheld, may eventually draw to a close. The technology already exists where you can wear a pair of glasses that can send images as via a miniature web camera back to someone else who can then communicate with you…like the man at the grocery store, peering at a pile of melons…the image of the melon is transmitted back to his wife at home who tells him, no, not that one, the one next to it. This already exists.
So would it be that much more of a reach to have a pair of glasses, some kind of vision wear, that would send you images of breaking news, alerts from your favorite merchants about sales or products you’ve been wanting to buy, allow you to play games (just not the addictive type; by way of example, check out this Star Trek: The Next Generation clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is12anYx2Qs).
Of course, as technology continues to accelerate to warp speeds, it appears that this “futuristic concept” has already arrived…note this item, courtesy of Wikipedia, about the coming-to-a-mall-near-you “Google Glasses”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Glass
But of course, the future is more than just technology and fashions. It’s also about culture and social interaction. How will we reach people raised to be emotionally distant and detached, heads forever turned down to look at a laptop screen or an Iphone display. Modern public relations pioneer Ed Bernays revealed the power that emotional appeals can have in carrying a message to an audience…but with people so “connected,” so well-informed, will such appeals still work? Is there really such a thing as a “mass audience,” the “general public” anymore? Or is the future increasingly about tailor INDIVIDUAL-SPECIFIC messages?
Ultimately, no matter where we all end up in the future—living on Mars with “Google Brain Implants” one day—some things about humanity will, hopefully, always remain the same. We are social animals, and we need human interaction, and not just the interaction afforded on Skype via a plasma screen. Trust and understanding are always best formed, and last longest, when they are based on one-on-one, and face-to-face dialogue. That’s something I hope will be around for millennia to come.