I don’t know about this Interweb thing…
Like many people, I’ve been slowly rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ever since it popped up on Netflix. And one thing becomes clear: in many ways, 2012 has already overtaken DS9 as The Future goes — barring, of course, space travel and replicators. Culturally, at least, we’ve zoomed right past Star Trek’s version of the 24th century, by the second decade of the 21st.
I’ve been struck particularly by two things missing from the DS9 universe — one that was unpredictable in the 1993-99 span of the series, and one that was predictable but unattractive from the creators’ standpoint. Nobody uses social media, and nobody wastes time. Spoilers ahead…
As I watch everyone interact on the station, the lack of social media sticks out hugely to me simply because it is how so many of us interact with each other now—and especially over long distances. There is no hashtag for DS9 workers to tweet LOLSisko macros or talk to families back home. Everyone uses voice/video communication rather than text despite the security issues this obviously poses (and of course a social network of any kind poses security problems in and of itself, but provides rich narrative opportunities in that arena which I’ve yet to see explored much) and the fact that we are seeing even now many people shy away even from the telephone when given an alternative. We have the videophones of science fiction past—and no one much cares. We use it sometimes, but it’s far more of a pain to make yourself presentable onscreen, get the kids and dogs to leave you alone for long enough to Skype, and carry on an etiquette minefield of a conversation when a quick text or email will do for most business.
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