Once, more than 20 years ago, there was a coworker who didn’t like me. Someone from HR had to intervene, and she asked the coworker if she could find some things that she did like about me. She thought and thought and finally said, “Not really.” Ouch, that hurt. But then she did add this: “Well, she is good at predicting trends.” Well, that was something!
Since then, I’ve continued to predict trends for myself and express them primarily by saying “I knew that was going to happen!” after the fact. But this time I’m going to commit them to paper. Since it’s my first time, I’m not really making any promises. My methodology includes exposure to multiple sources of information and expertise, observing people in many different places, and most important, a feeling I get in my gut, a kind of craving.
- The return of paper. A friend of mine was telling me that his son loves to get mail. “Real mail,” he said. My response? “Who doesn’t?!” Email is awesome, and tablets and e-readers are great, but there is something sensual, tactile, and visually and emotionally thrilling about getting something that you can save and look back on and touch, share, and even smell. I see it with my own kids, no matter how many devices they have. Trees, after all, are a renewable, organic resource. Paper is due for a comeback.
- The desire to disconnect from devices will increase. I remember when I was a young mom and I would be somewhere and think, “No one knows where I am; how will they find me if my child needs me?” That was scary, and cellphones solved that problem. But now, it’s a bit of a thrill to be where no one can find me. My teenager is a member of the first generation that has never had that feeling (except, perhaps, at summer camp). And it feels like it’s time: People are going to want to reestablish their freedom from devices. To experience the thrill of living in a singular moment.
- Emotional healing takes a place at the table. While for hundreds of years, doctors have scoffed at the role emotions play in health (except when it came to diagnosing “hysteria” in women—which did turn out to have a physical cause: sexual frustration!!!) I am seeing more and more studies that connect illnesses with emotional issues. And while most doctors have been ignoring that side of it, millions of people are solving their own health issues through information from publishers like Hay House. With the rise of what are clearly emotionally conflicted acts of violence in our society, I believe this is an area that will finally get more legitimate study and—hopefully, action.
- More women will ride bikes of all types. Cycling has been primarily the domain of guys…gear-head guys. But that exclusivity is going to fall, just the way male domination has fallen everywhere else. And when it does, the sport will be transformed. There will be more diversity of styles and types of bikes and gear (and outfits!). The sport will get simpler and easier to navigate, and it will be more fun.
- A return to cooking from scratch, especially with kids. This trend, while already started, will be turbo-charged by the upcoming Michael Pollan book called Cooked. I’m only a little ways into it, but I can tell it’s just going to rock everyone’s world about the importance of cooking. And since many grown-ups never learned how, it might be easier just to start with the kids and bring the subject back to schools—like I learned how to make cinnamon rolls in junior high Home Economics class.
- People will begin to recognize the health benefits or detriments of their entertainment choices. The connection with violence on television has been shown over and over again, but for the first time I’ve seen a study confirm what I suspected: that reading can be good for your health. A Michigan State University release (14 Sept. 2012) summarized the finding: “As part of an ongoing study of reading and distraction Michigan State University English professor Natalie Phillips teamed up with brain scientists and ran MRI brain scans of 18 students while they read a classic work by Jane Austen. To the researchers’ surprise, not only did the areas responsible for “executive function” light up to show increased blood flow and activity, many other areas of the subjects’ brains also lit up. Reading, at least reading complex books that contain many levels of meaning, may offer benefits far beyond just pleasurable distraction.” Notice they chose to read Jane Austen, the first official romance writer! More studies to come, I’m sure!
- Exercise will trump food for health and longevity. Again, study after study is showing that when it comes to being healthy and living a long life, regular exercise is much more important than food. And it’s all types of exercise—exercise as play, as transportation, as sport…but not TOO MUCH sport. Overexercising actually can reduce the benefit. Short bursts and intervals are also sometimes shown to be even better than long, continuous exercise. Another new trend in exercise and health is whole-body vibrations. Seriously, I am seeing tons of research showing it really works. That’s a piece of exercise equipment that sounds fun!
- We will begin to redefine the ideal body weight. A recent macro study of all major studies done shows something I’ve seen over and over again but that is highly contradictory to what we tell people in the doctor’s office and in the media: SLIGHTLY overweight people live longer than perfectly thin people. We are not talking about obesity here. We are talking about people with a bit of extra padding, which apparently can come in handy sometimes!
- Baby Boomers will redefine aging. No surprise here. They’ve redefined every other phase of life they’ve traversed through. Expect in the next 10 to 20 years to see a total redefinition of “assisted living” housing. It will be like a boutique hotel, but with better lighting. More like spas.
- The world will continue to warm. Another no-brainer. But with each year that the thermometer goes up, that’s one more year that a) deniers can’t deny as much and b) we either get closer to action or annihilation. I vote for action, of course.
And as for color predictions…I know the people who study these things say emerald green. And I’ve seen other fashion-forward people voting for bright yellow and orange, but my craving is for powder blue. Milky powder blue. The color of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland! The color of my first VW bug. A faded chambray.
Those are my predictions, and I’m sticking to them.
Photo credit: vestman