Advertisements often pander to our fears and vanities, and offer solutions based on fantasy. Does using red, white, and blue toothpaste take care of patriotic duty? Does reading a romance with a steamy cover make a person a great lover? Sometimes, as though their own emotions weren’t important enough, teenagers practice expressing emotion by copying the behaviors and language of their favorite movie and TV stars. I don’t think copying emotions and attitudes is unique to teenagers. Sometimes it’s hard to cut through all the illusions and make-believe.
Occasionally advertisers come up with a statement that makes a listener think. The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones, I heard recently. That’s for sure. The area where I live could have kept the world in stones for another millennium. Science fiction books and movies sometimes show people living in gangs fighting over the last few drops of oil to keep their vehicles, which look remarkably like cars from the forties and fifties, running. I’m never sure exactly where people are heading in their rusty vehicles—to another oil puddle?
Where I live, many people have taken to growing enough food to last summer and winter. Buying out of season fruit and veggies is no longer popular. If an apple’s shiny, it’s suspect. The smell of apple is what counts. Will people start making their own energy? Wood stoves are increasing in popularity. Will an enterprising inventor come up with a backyard windmill that provides enough electricity for a home? Garden catalogs now advertise more and more containers that will grow fruit and veggies in an apartment or on the roof of an apartment building. Some of these containers use light, water, and nutrients so plants grow when the snow is three feet deep outside. Several of my neighbors own chicken and goats. Perhaps people who live in cities could come together in groups to own land just outside the city for growing and grazing.
Also changing is the world of publishing. An advertisement could say that we don’t use e-readers because we ran out of paper. Libraries have stored human knowledge and the best that human imagination could produce. All that can now be stored in an area one-millionth the size of the original storage space. Kids grow up tuned into whatever is lightweight, digital, and wireless. I’d guess the youngest generation will be more willing to publish independently and not rely on gate-keepers. Do we need to worry about vast quantities of trash being published? (Always supposing you haven’t become immune to the vast quantities of trash on land and sea). What’s popular one year, disappears the next. Sometimes e-published writers receive bad reviews from all who read them.
If everyone except writers stops reading fiction, what will happen? I know several intelligent people, especially boys and men, who don’t read fiction. My sister, an MD, hasn’t read a novel since high school. If the general public stops reading fiction, will writers stop writing fiction? I doubt it.
Who will be the audience for fiction? How will imaginary stories reach us?