1. IMPOSSIBLE WORLD
Remember when veggie burgers made a nonconformist imprint on vegetarian culture in the 80’s? Me either. But what I do remember is when I first heard about “meatless meat” options claiming to taste like real beef. With the help of advanced food tech and a little all-American ingenuity, brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are disrupting the meat alternative vertical. Within only a couple years, they’ve showed up on fast food and high-end menus alike, riled-up ranchers to lobby for the exclusive use of the word “meat”, and most importantly, inspired consumers to make more sustainable and conscious food choices. These meat alternatives have become more than just a vegetarian go-to, they’ve ignited a food zeitgeist, leading us fast and furiously into the new frontier of food.
2. A WORLD OF ENDLESS VARIETY
Scrolling endlessly through Netflix to find the right background noise or searching tirelessly for the perfect kitchen spatula on Amazon–we’ve all felt the pressures of overchoice. The more options we have, the less confident we are about our selections as choice anxiety has been repeatedly proven through research. With more of us swimming through an infinite sea of options online, what are the psychological impacts on us over time and how can brands strive to provide some relief? While some algorithms, influencers, and startups are aiming to help us make simpler decisions, it seems it’s only a matter of time before they, too, fall victim to choice overload.
3. ALTERNATIVE REALITIES
When George Orwell published his grim outlook of an authoritarian world with 1984, he couldn’t have imagined capabilities like “deep fake” that use AI to alter videos “whose artificiality can only be identified by expert analysis” or that a social platform that the masses willfully subscribe to could so readily have the power to become the “ministry of truth.” Just days after the term “alternative facts” hit the airwaves, sales of 1984 skyrocketed by 10,000%, signaling that the Orwellian nightmare seems to be unfolding right before our eyes. 70 years after its publication, Orwell’s prophetic, cautionary tale of how reality can be hijacked is probably more relevant than ever.
4. ESPORTS BUBBLE UNIVERSE
According to the numbers, the rise of esports has been meteoric: hundreds of millions of dollars pouring in from investors and sponsors, prize pools ballooning beyond belief ($25.5 million for the winners of Dota 2’s biggest tournament), event attendance exploding, and viewership surpassing that of major sporting events (“League of Legends World Championship drew in more viewers than the Super Bowl”). But what if the numbers that are celebrating and driving the growth of esports have been less than accurate? Or worse, what if they have been intentionally misleading? This author explores the stark truth behind the esports phenomenon and how what’s on paper doesn’t seem to match reality.
5. ADOLESCENCE INTELLIGENCE
Teenage years are weird, angsty, rebellious, and awkward–it’s also the period in life when our brain is in its most crucial phase of development, one that ultimately defines who we become. Since the frontal cortex is the last part of the brain to develop, it’s the region of the brain most influenced by environment and experience. And as it turns out, this evolutionary process of delayed development gives the teenage brain unique superpowers like enhanced creativity, empathy, and optimism. Perhaps it’s this fluidity that makes Gen Z poised to best understand such complicated times.
6. MONOGLOT WORLD
As English becomes a prerequisite in most parts of our hyper-globalized world, non-native speakers now drastically outnumber native speakers. Meanwhile, other languages are becoming extinct at alarming rates, erasing unique dialects that allow for specific expressions of the human experience. Faced with rampant monolingualism, this author dissects how these linguistic shifts are impacting society and everything that might be lost in translation.
7. THE WORLD ON THE STREETS
In most American cities, where there is a concentration of wealth, one can find a correspondingly dismal level of poverty. In particular, homelessness seems to be an insurmountable challenge that most of the developed world can’t seem to keep up with, despite various programs and initiatives in place. This author breaks down how shortsightedness ultimately makes the issue of homelessness nearly impossible to address.
8. A WHOLE NEW WORLD OF CULTURAL COMPLEXITIES
The story of Aladdin is replete with sociocultural baggage that the makers of the new live action film could only wish upon a lamp to resolve. Critics and political organizations around the world were ready to denounce the movie before its production even began. This article explores Aladdin’s controversial past and how, despite their best efforts to deliver a more diplomatic version of the story, the new film’s creators “can’t fully overcome the tale’s complicated history.”
The older we get, the more unrecognizable this world becomes. Whether it’s our shifts towards imposter diets, our changing perception of the truth, our dependence on universal language, or our heightened cultural sensitivities, the world is changing, with or without our input, so we might as well learn how to live with it. Or better yet, we should probably wish to change it for the better.