By Cécile Cremer, trend researcher and co-founder of Wandering the Future, also the newest member of our DST Knowledge Community.
Reading time: 10 minutes
“We still think the future is something that just happens to us, and therefore we are mostly aware of the present. We should lose that attitude of unawareness and start realizing the future is in our hands”
Imagine, it is one of those typical Monday mornings, you haven’t had your coffee yet, you are already running late for your first appointment but before you rush out of the door you really need to go to the bathroom. So you’ll go, you are faster than ever. Not regular fast but world record setting fast peeing fast. You turn your head to the toilet paper, and there it is, the last sheet of toilet paper…
Now lets all be honest, who would just use it and think, “well what the hell after me the flood”. Don’t be ashamed now, I’m pretty sure you are not the only one. I’ve done it before myself, and al thought it isn’t the most polite thing to do, it isn’t a world disaster either.
What is a problem, is that this exact same attitude stands for how we are treating our world nowadays, like the last sheet of toilet paper. We scream we are more aware than ever, but are we really? Whenever we stand for a choice between ourselves and anything else we’ll most likely choose the selfish road, but would we still if we realized what consequences our so called “aware behaviour” would have? Would we still hold up our puppetry or would we be capable of choosing our Future over fugitive convenience? And if not, how can we become capable of making that choice?
I’ll try to give an answer to that, so that if you are done reading you’ll know how to be more Aware, Critical and Capable of influencing your and our Future.
So what about that fake awareness we have? Let us take our whole Quinoa hype to start with. The embodiment of our current health consciousness trend. For those who have never heard of it, it is the mother of all grains, the queen amongst the superfoods and it is the rice of the future. It is also the extinction of South-America as farmers are starving their home villages to produce an overload of underpaid Quinoa to our Western world. We close our eyes for these consequences as they do not affect us directly. We think the only influence on our future is the fact we eat healthier but we do not think about the long term of our behaviour.
Or what about the fake fat façade? I am well aware that it is a tricky subject, as in our society you are not allowed to talk about overweight people if you are skinny yourself. But that is exactly my point, we don’t always want to hear the truth because it means we have to acknowledge our misdoings. Just to be clear I’m talking about overweight by choice, not by medical reason. At the moment we are celebrating the rise of the oversized models and the media is pushing this new “normal”. Every obese person is singing praise about how we finally accepting people the way they are, but what we are doing is stimulating illness. Because After viewing plus-size models in a positive light, women ate more and reported less motivated to pursue a healthier lifestyle. So who are we kidding here, being a plus size model isn’t normal it is officially unhealthy and by stimulating this behaviour we are developing free notes for bad behaviour, refusing to acknowledge the effects of this fake awareness.
And so there are a lot more examples of how we think we are doing a very great and aware job but in fact we are tighting our own perspective to what we want to see. Shops that are closing due to our online behaviour, the sharing economy that has been taken over by listed companies and so we can go on.
A self-styled awareness movement, which we aren’t so succesfull in. I do not even think we are doing it deliberately, but by screaming we are so aware we might be more unaware than ever before. The real problem is the fact that in every single example we do not see a direct threat for our Future as we still believe we have no influence on it, it is something that just happens to us and we’ll deal with it in the future. But there is no such thing as The Future, it isn’t a thing, it is an attitude. We are now waiting for something that doesn’t exist and therefore we aren’t worried about the consequences of our actions. So what if we would put ourselves in front of the future instead of waiting for it to arrive by simply using the WHOP.
It sort of sounds like a dance move, but in fact it is an awareness raising tool to put yourself in front of the future, to visualize the consequences of your choices and behaviour by simply asking yourself four questions.
Whop stands for
Who – who will be effected by your choice
How – how will this choice develop in the long term, so the future
Other – is there any other way to full fill your needs without the negative effects
Personal – make it personal
Let us grab back to the Quinoa example to explain this tool. Envision yourself in a supermarket this time, standing in front of the grain cabinet, now start whopping, with the knowledge you have gained before.
W: South-America, Farmers, Family, environment, economy
H: If they won’t be able to make fair quinoa we won’t have any in the end
O: Choose a fairtrade product, chose another option like rice for example
P: Do you have family, friends over there for example?
Now that you have an idea how, it might be even more important to know why I think you should use this tool as a human, but even more as a trend expert as we have an responsibility to be critical about the Future we tell others that is coming.
I believe we should start WHOP’ing because Every single day is yesterday’s future and every tomorrow is today’s potential. We are all connected in every single action we carry out because our future is not unsure.
The untouched future might be indecisive but we have the power to define it with our actions. We have the power to Whop our actions, to make sure we do the best we can. Because What is sure is that we have some serious reconciling to do.
Let us stop relying on the future, as we have seen there is no such things as The Future.Our actions are the only once that decide how our futures will look like. So be critical about your choices now and be aware of your power to influence our future.
This talk was first presented at TedX StrijpS & Recently presented at Rozenbrood TrendEvent.