Visions of 2051

Mixing Romance and Wearables

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright April 2016


Preliminary Thoughts

First, keep in mind that romance and marriage are going to be changed dramatically from what they are in the 2010's by the Tattoos and T-Shirts issues. Their roles in society are already changing and will continue to change. Lets look at each individually.


Historically, the commodity use for marriage was two-fold: 1) to produce children who would get support as they grew into adults, 2) to establish kinship linkages between extended families so they would trust each other more and could cooperate with each other more. By the 2010's the second use had become irrelevant because cooperation is being handled in so many ways outside of marriage connections. This is why arranged marriage is anachronistic in the US. And even marriage arranged by the couples themselves is losing some relevance in regards to child raising. Thanks to increasingly widespread prosperity and government supported social support networks the child raising use is also not as compelling as it used to be, either -- we now have lots of single mom's.

This evolution into anachronism is going to continue. By the 2050's both of these activities are going to be handled by other groups and organizations. This means that what is left for marriage is going to be manifestations of personal expression. It will be sustained by the same style of thinking which today sustains horse riding, oil painting and violin playing.

This means:

o It is going to be done more perfectly by the participants. People are not going to be in a marriage to satisfy the wishes of other people. And because divorce is easy they will also not be in one if they think they have made a mistake. They will be doing it right in their own eyes, and doing it right, right now.

o There is going to be more ritual and less practical. Personal expression supports a lot of ritual. Being married is going to be a lot more elaborate than just being together.

o Participating is going to be a lot more expensive, so fewer people will be engaging in it. Weddings and marriages are both going to get more elaborate and more expensive because of the desire to support personal expression.

An interesting related phenomenon is that in the 2010's some women are going through marriage rituals without getting married to anyone. (mostly in Japan and Korea at this point) These women just really want to experience the ritual.

In sum, the reasons for engaging in marriage are going to change dramatically. Marriages will be based a lot more on personal expression and a lot less on supporting child raising or uniting families.


Romance is going to change as well. The commodity use for romance was spending time with someone to see if you wanted to spend even more time with them, with having sex or becoming married being a large part of the time together theme.

As marriage has changed its role, and as birth control technologies have improved, romance has changed it role as well. First, lets look at romance's purpose, which is to answer a couple big questions:

o What is a person going to be looking for in a partner?

o What will they do with the partner?

The commodity change that has happened over the last fifty years is that romance is a lot less risky to engage in. As marriage's role has changed and become more "perfect" and more about personal expression, romance's role is changing as well.

Here is how the shift towards personal expression is changing romance:

o In some social situations the routine is simplifying. The "hook-up"/"Netflix and chill" culture is an example of this happening.

o The ritual that hasn't gone away is the social shaming when marriage and romance with someone outside the marriage are mixed. In high profile cases, such as moralizing politicians and religious leaders, it has gotten even stronger.

o What has gotten more expensive and more elaborate about romance? The more romance becomes about personal expression -- the trend that is also affecting marriage -- the more elaborate and expensive it is getting. And the more ritual gets involved.

As romance becomes more about personal expression and becomes more ritualized, being "just friends" is going to take over activities that are considered romantic in the 2010's. In the 2050's being just friends is going to include a lot of intimacy. There will be a difference between being "friends" and "just friends" and there will be some language changes to help define the differences.

Here are some places where being friends is going to take some more word defining:

o How many friends will a person have? For instance, just one partner? Or will many partners become commonplace and more acceptable?

o Related: how are all the "stepping out" forms going to be viewed? What forms will infidelity take? The forms should be quite different. And the opinions of those around and watching will be quite different.

o What will be the root satisfaction, the form of personal expression that is giving deep satisfaction? To help answer this, think of what satisfaction people in the 2010's are getting from tattoos?

These are some of the basic romance issues. Now... let's mix in technology. Let's mix in... wearables!

Mixing in wearables

Wearables are going to make romance quite different in the 2050's.


In the 2050's we will have both emotion-controlling wearables and cyber muse companions who make lifestyle suggestions to their owners.

The emotion-controlling wearables mean that there is no uncertainty about "Will I like this person?" now or in the future. If you want to, yes, you will. The wearables will see to that. Conversely, if you don't want to fall for someone, the wearables can help you "forget him" quickly and decisively.

The cyber muses are interested in getting people into a parental state of mind -- any child that is not conceived by and raised by humans in some style of family structure (including baby clubs) will have to be created as a Necessity Child (in a vat somewhere) and raised by cyber nursemaids. There will be plenty of these being created in the 2050's, but the less needed the better.

But the muses are usually subtle about this become-a-parent suggesting -- people don't keep cyber muses around to convince them to become parents. They are there because "Behind every great person there's a good cyber muse." People want to be inspired, not nagged.

The big change between the 2010's and the 2050's is that deciding who to fall in love with is not a question of emotional feeling -- because of wearables that attraction will predictably follow after the choice is made, and the emotion will be deep and lasting, and guaranteed as long as the person uses wearables.

The "engagement ring" of this era is programming liking a person into your wearables -- or giving your object of affection a new wearable that will handle the task of making them like you. And, as mentioned above, not falling for someone is equally easy to arrange.

Given this environment... what will be the hard choices in "getting committed"? What will people think hard about? What will they look for, long and hard, in potential partners? What kinds of socializing will they do to size up potential partners? This new style of socializing will be what people think long and hard about.

It will be quite different.

Practicing romance with wearables

Using wearables for romance is something teenagers will practice with, just like they practice with alcohol, drugs, music, sports and driving. They can practice controlling emotions and other mind altering with wearables.

How to practice with them will be a hot, opinionated topic of the day. It will be much like how to practice with drinking and dating is in the 2010's.

Part of what makes it so white hot is how fast the emotion controlling capabilities of wearables will change as the technology advances -- parents' wearables are not going to operate the same as their kids' wearables do.


Marriage is going to continue its evolution away from being a social institution for child raising and unifying families. It is going to become more and more an institution that allows personal expression. People are going to get married so they can have a perfect marriage with a partner who also wants a perfect marriage. This perfection won't require children or be about creating the right in-laws, but it is likely to be about engaging in expensive rituals that both partners enjoy.

Likewise, romance is going to change as well. Because of wearables it will no longer be about answering the question, "Can I fall in love with this person?" -- wearables can decisively answer that question simply by dialing in the answer the person wants to have. Romance is going to be about answering the question, "Do I want to fall in love with this person? I know I can if I decide I want to." It is going to hark back to arranged marriage thinking, but with the person asking the question being the one doing the arranging.



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