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Futures of ageing

Self-sufficiency in floating cities

By 28. March 2022No Comments

“My dog is the seventh cloned version of the dog I had in my mid 20s. I also live with an AI that I talk to on and off during the day, she has a difficult character.”


We asked, you answered.

How would you describe yourself?

34 years, white, non-binary, read as female, working class child, academic, work as a writer as well as in product design, friend and partner in crime

Imagine you are 72, 80 or even 99 years old: How and with whom do you live together?

It’s 2070, I live in a permanently flooded city, a metropolis, with canals where there used to be roads, I can hardly remember how it was before. Many plants grow in this city, not blindly cured nature but useful plants, every household has a kayak, utensils like nets and harpoons to go fishing, at the same time it is a highly technologised metropolis, where everything is part of a cycle, we do not live next to nature but with it, imitate it and orient ourselves to its paradigms. I never had children, in 2022 as a freelance writer and designer the idea of having a child on my own was not ideal and financially more difficult to realise than today, people all lived together in houses and cities, but hardly anyone knew or supported each other, we were strangers among strangers.

Who are the most important people in your life and how do you spend time with them?

A friend I met in my 30s, other friends too, we share our daily lives, live in the same neighborhood, get involved politically and locally, I don’t think that will ever stop, at least I hope not. My dog is the seventh cloned version of the dog I had in my mid 20s. I also live with an AI that I talk to on and off during the day, she is a difficult character.

What is your sex and love life like in the future?

I have different partners, the model of heteronormative romance but also families dissipated around 2030, instead we started to form gangs and communities based on our needs instead of societal expectations. I have partners with whom I only sleep and those with whom I live together, besides that I sometimes retreat into virtual worlds in the evening and walk through my specially created favourite scenarios and experiences that I have never encountered in the analog world.

How do you manage to stay mentally and physically fit?

Due to the effects of climate change and the related scarcity of resources, I go fishing every day in the city, the streets are no longer visible since the great flood, the first floors were removed in favour of drainage in all buildings, only the columns remained and there I fish every day and go swimming, this keeps me physically fit. For my mental health I meet regularly with my friends, we walk across the piers somewhere and talk about our work, about us, about others, about the weather.

How do you afford everyday life in the future?

Due to the economic crash, the division between the social classes was so considerable that people began to organise themselves differently. They formed gangs, in the neighborhood where I live everyone takes care of the plants and harvest of our vertical city gardens collectively. The sharp boundaries between academics, workers etc. no longer exist, each of us acquires several disciplines and jobs during their life. I still do journalistic and literary writing, I often fix the things that break in my neighbourhood, and then there are the mandatory shifts as a gardener. If it were 2022 I would probably be a writing artisan or an artisanal writer. I don’t have much money, but unlike the capitalist society from which it emerged, the amount of money is no longer significant either. Instead, other measures such as trustworthiness became established (a measure that has been used by the Navy Seals since 1980; in their search for the best people, they test candidates for performance and trust, and contrary to what is assumed, they give priority to those who are low performers but very trustworthy).

In the future, what do you get up for in the morning?

I check the plant watering systems and teach others, I listen around the neighbourhood, I write and I teach others. This answer is difficult for me.

If you had to tell a young friend about all the things you’ve done right while ageing and would thus recommend to them… What would they be?

Hard to answer until I am old myself. When I was in my early 20’s I went to a symposium where I met one of my design professors, he was in his mid 50’s at the time, at some point he suggested that our age difference seems much bigger to us students than it does to him, he said that he felt he was still going through the world with the same young head, the same attitude that he had in his mid 20’s, even though some details may have changed, he had since become wiser in some aspects and more impatient in others. I didn’t really understand it then but now, at just 34, I grasp what he meant. I think the question is not so much what one has done right in growing older, because that is strongly oriented to one’s own motives. For example, if I’m into money, I’ll never be happy if I don’t earn much when I get older. Perhaps the question is therefore rather what one has done right in becoming a human being, how one became a human being who values others, how I learned to listen, when I noticed which life I would like to lead and which aspects are indispensable for it, how my ideals developed and which ones I discarded again or was never able to realise at all? But back to the question. Since I grew up alone and never had any support, I can well imagine that the community in which I live has a very big part in who I am and otherwise I will probably still be a very quiet and discreet dreamer.

– Original version: German –

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