Whatever reservations he might have about the way our technologies are colonizing our brains and changing us as humans, Coupland insists that we can’t fight progress, so we might as well learn to live with it. “I’m reflexively suspicious of anyone who freaks out when you start talking about the future,” he says, “because it means they don’t have their shit together. Or they’re in denial or they don’t want progress. They’re like my parents, who say any progress must be bad.”
And those thousands of middle-class workers who will be made redundant by the mass adoption of high-quality 3D printing? “History is this endless chain of people being made irrelevant. And then people find new ways to become relevant.”
That might in fact be Coupland’s great project: discovering new ways for humans to remain relevant. “I’m optimistic,” he says about the way the world is moving. “I think we’ve gained more than we’ve lost. I mean, we’ve lost a few things along the way. We’ve lost the ability to bullshit at dinner parties. You can’t propagate an urban legend anymore, you can’t make up a statistic, because out comes the iPad. But when you say, ‘Let me consult the iPad,’ what you’re really saying is, ‘Let me consult the sum total of human history.’ That’s pretty good.”
“History is this endless chain of people being made irrelevant.
And then people find new ways to become relevant.”
And for Coupland, that positive result is more than enough to offset any unease he might have about the fury of change and its effect on our lives in the present.
“It’s traumatic and weird, but it’s happening and it’s only going to get weirder. I think the moment you withdraw from it, you become an old person. The world’s never been more interesting than it is right now.”