Douglas Coupland’s 2010 Predictions

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Douglas Coupland wrote a book I really liked. Ten years ago he wrote a pessimist’s guide for the next 10 years.

Several of the things he says echo my own beliefs, and I repeat them here for your reflection. (2020 update: The ones I’ve highlighted here seem less important now, so I added some other highlights at the bottom.)

#8 Try to live near a subway entrance.

In a world of crazy-expensive oil, it’s the only real estate that will hold its value, if not increase.

#9 The suburbs are doomed, especially those E.T. California-style suburbs .

This is a no-brainer, but the former homes will make amazing hangouts for gangs, weirdoes and people performing illegal activities. The pretend gates at the entranceways to gated communities will become real, and the charred stubs of previous white-collar homes will serve only to make the still-standing structures creepier and more exotic.

#13 Enjoy lettuce while you still can.

And anything else that arrives in your life from a truck, for that matter. For vegetables, get used to whatever it is they served in railway hotels in the 1890s. Jams. Preserves. Pickled everything.

That’s pretty much how I think it’s going to happen. I’ve been saying for a couple of years that anyone who is still planning, allowing, building or buying a house in the suburbs is an idiot. In the world of fuel shortages, the distance your house is from will define your wealth: the farther you have to drive, the poorer you’re gonna be. We need urban densification and we need a workable plan to keep it from making us all insane. People are fucking idiots, being forced to live closer to them will make me crazy.

#20 North America can easily fragment quickly as did the Eastern Bloc in 1989.

Quebec will decide to quietly and quite pleasantly leave Canada. California contemplates splitting into two states, fiscal and non-fiscal. Cuba becomes a Club Med with weapons. The Hate States will form a coalition.

When Canada held a Referendum in 1995 to decide if we wanted Quebec to stay close or fuck off, a lot of people were shocked. I was too, for about two seconds, at which point I realized that this world of stable, mostly uncontested borders is recent, and weird.

Things change. Things are gonna keep changing, and they’re gonna change quickly.

There are a few other gems in the article, I recommend you read it.

2020 Update

So, yeah, in the last decade different things have apparently become more important to me. If I may quote again from M. Coupland’s article:

#22 Your sense of time will continue to shred. Years will feel like hours

#24It is going to become much easier to explain why you are the way you are

Much of what we now consider “personality” will be explained away as structural and chemical functions of the brain.

#35 Stupid people will be in charge, only to be replaced by ever-stupider people. You will live in a world without kings, only princes in whom our faith is shattered.

A pessimists guide indeed. But he was close to the mark for a lot of these.

[ May 30 2020 ]



May 30 2020

I take it this Coupland person is relatively young? Quebec holds a referendum to secede about once a decade. Although the first actual vote came in 1980, they have been advocating for it all through the 20th century. Nobody is actually shocked when the idea is voted upon. The long-term view is that Quebec has no interest in seceding, but is happy to threaten it in order to win concessions from the Canadian federal government. This allows it to prolong certain aspects of special treatment, such as laws requiring bilingual packaging.

On this matter in particular I view Quebec like I view Scotland. Its residents might dream of sovereignty and independence, but the reality is that economic matters will win out over ethnic pride every time.

Back to the main subject, I don’t know if a fragmented North America is something to worry about. Just twenty years ago, speculative historians were worried about a *unified* North America, whereby NAFTA would give the US a flimsy justification to annex Canada and Mexico. As with the other extreme situation, that’s unrealistic and alarmist.


    May 30 2020

    Yeah, I mostly brought it up ’cause a large part of my current audience is Australian, and probably didn’t know about it. Thanks for filling in more gaps. =)

    There’s often talk of all kinds of splintering in North America. British Columbia and Alberta, or BC and a handful of western American states, etc.

    I like the article’s phrase “Hate States”. You must live in one of them, going by the things I read on your blog.


      May 30 2020

      On the subject of a splintering North America, I find the speculation alarmist and narrowly focused. Not twenty years ago, analysts had the exact opposite fear. Those who dreaded a new world order were afraid that the NAFTA trade treaty would give the United States a flimsy excuse to annex Canada and Mexico, and so the fear was over North American consolidation instead. As always, the truth is somewhere closer to pragmatism (or at worst, the path of least resistance.)

      Florida doesn’t have as many hate groups as you might think, but the city I live in does have a large chapter of the NAAWP. They’re a group that believe affirmative action and political correctness rob white people of opportunity and financial security. If you argue that most of the CEOs and police in town happen to be white, then their counter-argument is to provide an exceedingly narrow definition of what ‘white’ is. As would be expected, the rest of the world is happy to leave them behind.

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