So what is a futurist? Author Jane McGonigal found her way to futurism by way of video game design and now envisions what the future—minimum of 10 years from now—could look like for society. “A lot of what I ask people to think about, it objectively can create anxiety or stress,” McGonigal told newsletter editor Matt Haber and Alta Live. “But if we start by looking backward and acknowledging the change we’ve lived through…we can realize that things can change, but we can be adaptive and resilient and help others.” Her book Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything—Even Things That Seem Impossible Today urges readers to imagine the unimaginable and envision the forces that will dictate the next decade, even if those forces are climate change, radicalization, and post-pandemic trauma.
“There was a fire lit in my pants in early 2020 when I started tracking the use of the words ‘unimaginable’ and ‘unthinkable,’” McGonigal said. She found that during the past two years of the pandemic, the word “unimaginable” appeared in 2.5 million English-language news stories and “unthinkable” appeared in 3 million. “When a crisis hits, if we haven’t prepared our imagination for it, we feel shock, we freeze, we deny,” she said. “Most people spent a good part of 2020 either denying or freezing.” Contemplating the future and taking small actions can alleviate our anxiety. “It’s not what will happen; it’s what do we want to happen? And we look for these opportunities to make the future.”
Check out these links to some of the topics McGonigal and Haber brought up this week.
- Read Imaginable: How to See the Future Coming and Feel Ready for Anything—Even Things That Seem Impossible Today, by McGonigal.
- Read McGonigal’s other books, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and Superbetter: The Power of Living Gamefully.
- Visit McGonigal’s website.
- Subscribe to the Institute for the Future’s newsletters.
- Learn more about the Institute for the Future’s programming.
- Think ahead with a mesh-networking app.
- Learn about how forking works in blockchain technology.
- Read Haber’s work in Alta.•