When Marty McFly traveled through time to Oct. 21, 2015 he came to a world vastly different than the one he left behind. “Back to Future Part II” made many other outlandish predictions, with the creation of out-of-this-world technology and jaw-dropping events heavily weaved throughout the eccentric plot. While the film was humorous, the society it predicted was not.
“Back to the Future Part II” was released in 1989 and the U.S., like much of the world, was changing. The Cold War was drawing to a close, George H.W. Bush had just become president, the AIDS epidemic was in full swing and the Berlin Wall was demolished fewer than two weeks before the release of the film.
For the majority of the world, newspapers were the main source of information. Without the Internet, which was not used by 50 percent of Americans until 2001, a person’s view of the world was largely the result of the information portrayed in the local papers. Due to this, the average American’s world view was much smaller and more locally than globally focused.
When filmmakers cast their eyes to the future, they transferred this local viewpoint with them. McFly had married his high school sweetheart and never left his hometown — not unlike a large majority of his peers. While the technology was highly advanced, the setting remained the same.
The portrayal of the children, however, conveys a different truth. McFly’s children, Marty Jr. and Marlene, are submersed in the new technology. Binge watching shows on multichannel televisions, spending hours playing video games and FaceTiming with friends was the predicted norm, one that entirely came true.
McFly’s children are our parent’s theoretical representation of our generation. They envisioned us as completely immersed in technology and detached from society — a prediction that isn’t entirely inaccurate.
Yes, millennials are obsessed with information. We use a variety of social media to stay as informed as possible. If something happens in Indonesia, we are notified within moments, thanks to the Internet. Our view, unlike our parents, has always been more global than local.
Most millennials knew in high school that they would be leaving to receive higher education and did not put much weight into the relationships they formed in their developmental years. When thinking towards the future, our focus is on our careers and making a positive impact in the world. While family is still important, it isn’t the driving force behind our decisions.
The average American is waiting longer to get married and many are choosing to postpone or completely forgo having children. We value our careers and recognize the world is no longer an ideal place to raise a child. While some may call us insensitive, we simply see it as practical.
In fact this mindset may be why we are so focused on bettering the world in its entirety. Take this presidential election: students are asking candidates about their plans for global warming and resolving the many crises worldwide instead of focusing on mundane American policies that, at the end of the day, don’t matter.
If McFly took a leap to 2040, what would he see? Hopefully, he would witness his children successfully managing their careers, with the general population working and connecting with international partners. Advanced technology will only enhance the ease with which those connections can be made.
No one can confidently guess what the future may hold. “Back to the Future” inaccurately assumed that we would be zipping around on hoverboards and rehydrating pizzas. The determination held by our generation, however, will hopefully bring about the change necessary to create a better tomorrow.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.