What Ray Bradbury Got Wrong

August 31, 2021

What Ray Bradbury Got Wrong

It is amazing how many details Ray Bradbury imagined correctly in his short story “There will Come Soft Rains.”  Especially considering he published the story in 1950.  I was not born then but not too long afterwards.  Computerization and Technology really did not take hold of our everyday lives until the 1980s and 1990’s.  But even that far back Bradbury imagined Siri and Smart homes.   He described IPhone alarms and reminders, Large LED TVs, garage door openers and automated sprinklers.  With all the technological change he also told us what was on everybody’s mind in 1950, thermonuclear annihilation. What was amazing about the story where the things he imagined wrong.

Ray Bradbury thought of technological changes but he did not imagine that the way we lived and what would interest us would change too.  He believed we would all still be eating a large 1050’s style breakfast, every item unchanged.  He imagined that the children would be playing catch with a rubber ball and watching TV shows about animals in Africa.  Bradbury thought the adults would be playing bridge on a folding table on the patio while eating egg salad sandwiches and drinking martinis.  I can not imagine a more 1950’s scene than that.  Even the art did not change in his mind.  The “modern” art of the 1950’s would still be hung in the hallway.  And the man would smoke cigars and the woman would like poetry.  I wonder what he would think about the fantasy football and video games of today.  And that the children would be trying to become viral on TikTok.  The funniest part that he imagined wrong was the computer itself.  He described film spools and wires and circuits.  As if the computers themselves wouldn’t need to change to do all the wonderful tasks. 

I suppose this takes us to the realization that the way we live and what we are interested in is because of the influence of technology.  Children are not interested in African animals because all they need to know is at their fingertips.   Adults’ interests have changed too.  Pastimes that did not exist in the 1950’s fill our lives.  I don’t know anyone that even knows how to play bridge anymore.  Martinis are retro and egg salad sandwiches are nowhere to be seen.  Our world has gotten much smaller and our palates more international.  We also seemed to take the thermonuclear annihilation seriously.  I am hoping the changes we have made there will continue to hold fast.  I think Ray Bradbury did not count on the resilience of the human spirit to change as their world changed.  We still have hope for a good future. 

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