The nation was still basking in the afterglow of the 1950s cultural and economic boom. Camelot in all its glamour was in full swing. The battle lines between communism and the West were clear and unambiguous. The nation was heading into space. Vietnam and Woodstock were unfathomable.
The future was bright and on ABC back in 1962 the future was brought to television in the form of a groundbreaking new cartoon sitcom called “The Jetsons.”
According to Hanna-Barbera fandom, the patriarch of the high-flying family of the future, George Jetson, was born on this week in 2022, some 40 years before the time of the series.
There are lessons we can learn from George’s world and for our own. Sure, flying cars may not be practical, but what else?
The Jetsons’ home had a robot named Rosie and every labor-saving device imaginable. The automation of the future meant people did little for themselves, including brush their teeth and get dressed. Rosie even had a boyfriend.
We’re arguably getting close to this level of technology now, but managing and regulating artificial intelligence or androids is a significant challenge we have yet to confront.
We are slowly learning a sedentary lifestyle, where even the most basic activities are handled by some modern technology or convenience can be taken to an extreme that is at once unhealthy and dangerous. Studies show overreliance on smartphones has diminished many people’s ability to remember a series of numbers.
In George’s world, the work week was two hours. We’re still trying to figure out work-life balance in an age of interconnectivity. In 2022, we’re also still learning that work gives people a sense of purpose and is essential to healthy, independent living. Perhaps George’s light schedule isn’t such a good thing after all.
The Jetsons should remind us that technology can be a trap. Misused, it can create a lazy, entitled society that shuns hard work. That can lead to government dependency and control.
To audiences in 1962, George’s 110-year-old grandfather must have seemed like a superhuman. Today, with medical science and healthcare advances, it’s not uncommon to meet active people in their 90s, and the number of centenarians continues to rise. Perhaps by 2060, living to 110 will be more common.
In one episode, Jane has to persuade George to let her get a drivers’ license. We’ve made extraordinary progress on the role of women in society as equals (excluding Democrats’ current fascination with diminishing or eliminating gender, of course). The advancement of the concept of men and women as true, equal partners is critical to overall societal progress. Here, we’re ahead of the game.
In the Jetsons’ world of 2060, humanity had decimated the environment so much, people were forced to live high above the smog in cities built on adjustable stilts. The juxtaposition of that 1962 vision, demonstrates another bright spot, at least for America. Contrary to the radical left’s eco-cultists, we’re being far better stewards of the planet than many ever expected.
Harmful emissions are down in the U.S. while efficiency, reuse and conservation are up. Air and water quality have improved dramatically. There are more trees in this country today than when Teddy Roosevelt was president, and we continue to preserve land.
When George would yell, “Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!” it was part of the slapstick humor of the series. We fantasized what it would be like to have computers and machines run our lives.
We know now that technology creates responsibilities that if not taken seriously can have consequences that are devastating. Digital escapism is replacing passion for hobbies, professions, sports, religion and even relationships. It’s leading to an explosion of manipulated information and censorship.
Just ask the parent of a kid who can’t concentrate in school due to too much screen time, or the spouse of a porn addict, or the perpetually tense, paranoid and dour news junky, or the depressed isolated Zoomer who can’t establish a personal relationship due to technology’s interference. In this regard, we have a long way to go.
So, no flying cars or school field trips to asteroids, but on basis, we’ve taken a number of right paths.
American optimism, however elusive it may seem today, demands we continue to strive to be better. Better than we are today and better than the world envisioned for George Jetson.
Happy Birthday George. Hopefully, with faith, science, common sense and freedom, we’ll continue to learn from your future to help craft our own.
• Tom Basile is the host of “America Right Now” on Newsmax Television, an author and a former Bush administration official.