They say no one can predict the cultural trends of the future, but that’s nonsense. Anyone with half a brain saw yo-yos and fidget spinners coming from a mile away. (Hint: the next big toy combines slime, spinning action, and EpiPens.) Here are some more predictions you can hang your tiny fedora on.
- The Rules Diet
Most are familiar with the strict guidelines of the Paleolithic and Whole30 diets, but did you know dieting is going to get so much worse? Ever-changing — and seemingly arbitrary — rules will be the defining characteristic of the Rules Diet. Get used to no-salt Sundays and an entire week of barley cakes. Plus, extremely exotic recipes like the Laotian grilled bat will soon be making their way into your meal planning.
Prepare to Jackson Pollock your living room with junk and kitsch! It was fun to pretend we all liked the off-white walls and succulent décor of minimalism, but the maximalism to come will bring into vogue what everyone craves: lots of stuff. Remember Hummels, foil wallpaper, and towering stacks of old newspapers around the home? It’s all coming back, baby! And then some.
Cryptocurrency is so 2017, but never fear, affluent elites: Lithgowcurrency is the next big thing. This will be a virtual currency that exists only in the mind of acclaimed actor John Lithgow. The value of each LithCoin will be as stable as the enduring popularity of the 1987 hit comedy Harry and the Hendersons, and LithCoins will soon be as universal as Lithgow’s English accent is convincing.
- Poison Ivy Wrestling
Kids these days will do anything for YouTube views, and the next trendy stunt will be grappling in toxic flora for 15 minutes of fame and 9 days of skin rash. Sure, it’s unpleasant, but a lack of foresight is the defining feature of YouTube “vloggers,” and the winner can opt out of the next online challenge: quiet pursuit of a noble goal.
- Filtered, Treated Water
Raw water had its day, but the new fad will be avoiding giardiasis and other parasitic complications that come along with drinking “natural spring water.” It’s a simple process, and we’ve been doing it for decades: filtration and fluoride treatment. The best part? It’s much cheaper than 60 dollars per jug and probably isn’t carrying E. coli or Hepatitis A.
Future fashion trends are nearly impossible to predict, but bustles are definitely coming back in a big way. This time for men. Soon enough, you won’t be able to find a romper or a tracksuit without this Victorian-era frame on the derrière. The hottest stars will be flaunting bustles with their most dramatic pageboy haircuts.
- Communal Tax Filing
Sharing space for life and work is a special feature of Millennial culture. That’s why young people will be lining up for a hip hangout to itemize their deductions and calculate alternative minimums. Of course, there will be gewürztraminer flowing — it will be the new rosé.
- 2D-printed Memos
Once you ride in your self-driving car to your wooden skyscraper office during your “tech hiatus,” internal communication will be transformed. Just imagine receiving the information you need on a paper-thin, organic screen delivered straight to your squatting desk. I’ve seen the future, and it’s faintly familiar.
- Thoughtful Satire
Of all the future trends, no one saw this coming: internet satire devoid of needless snark. The next crop of humorists will be charitable and discerning in their amusing observations. Cynics beware! Irony may be dead, but benevolence is going to have a major moment. A brief, beautiful moment.
Read “Can Anyone Really Predict Pop Culture Hits?” by Cable Neuhaus for more on trendspotters.
“Your Weekly Checkup” is our online column by Dr. Douglas Zipes, an internationally acclaimed cardiologist, professor, author, inventor, and authority on pacing and electrophysiology. Dr. Zipes is also a contributor to The Saturday Evening Post print magazine. Subscribe to receive thoughtful articles, new fiction, health and wellness advice, and gems from our archive.
While we rafted down the Snake River in the U.S. Rocky Mountains on a family vacation many years ago, our guide encouraged us to taste the sparkling clear mountain stream water. We did, and it was wonderful—until we got home. That’s when my wife, three children, and I began to experience abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The diagnosis, later confirmed by the hospital lab, was obvious: giardiasis, an intestinal infection caused by giardia, a protozoan parasite found in food or water contaminated by feces from infected animals. Treatment with an antibiotic cured us, but not before we had each lost five to ten pounds.
Drinking unfiltered, untreated “raw water” has become the rage in many places, particularly on the west coast. Proponents claim unprocessed water has healthy and natural minerals normally removed from treated or filtered water, and eliminates contamination from chemicals found in tap water, such as fluoride or lead leached from old pipes. They ignore the fact that raw water can still contain pesticides and a plethora of bacteria—giardia being just one—from animal excreta. That hasn’t stopped companies from bottling and selling 2.5 gallon bottles of “natural spring water” for thirty-five dollars and more.
Drinking “natural” water is risky. Millions of people living in developing countries would love to have our access to water treated to remove bacteria, parasites, pesticides, and other contaminants, instead of being exposed to water-borne diseases such as cholera, which is still a global threat.
It’s important to stress that everything “natural” is not necessarily good for you: poison ivy is natural; a bee sting is natural; and so is a snake bite. And everything “processed” is not necessarily bad. Fluoride in the drinking water is considered one of the top ten health achievements of the past century because of its ability to prevent tooth decay. I wish it had been in my drinking water when I was growing up; I could have avoided the five or six cavity fillings at each dental visit!
Why people shun advances known to improve health, under the mistaken belief that “the old ways were best,” is one of life’s mysteries. This brings to mind the anti-vaccination movement I touched on in a past article on the shingles vaccine. While many alternative approaches to health care can be beneficial and complementary to “usual” medicine, one must be wary of bogus claims and an attitude of “don’t confuse me with facts.”
It is true that we suffer from an aging and crumbling infrastructure, and that many locations still use lead pipes, tragically exemplified in Flint, Michigan. However, the challenge is to fix the system, not to add more risk by drinking unprocessed water. My advice: Don’t do it.