In many parts of the world the social norms that have neatly defined our identities for centuries are dissolving and diversifying and this is affecting every aspect of our lives. New transport technologies are making it easier for people to travel across countries and continents. The Hyperloop, for instance, promises to revolutionise transport and journey times. Geographical boundaries and the dynamics between locations are likely to change as previously difficult journeys become possible. Autonomous vehicles will allow people to work, rest or play while on the move. They will make travelling more of a passive experience bringing unparalleled levels of convenience and transforming the way we use our leisure time. Urban flying taxis are yet another form of transport innovation. Pioneering transportation companies such as Uber Air Sky Ports are promising to introduce a new form of air travel. This mode of transport could open up how we move around our cities, but it is potentially disruptive and could completely negate our centuries-old infrastructures that have defined how we move around our urban environments.
Climate change is fast becoming a ‘push factor’ impacting where populations can live. According to one study, the rise in sea level alone could displace over 13 million people by the end of this century. New Zealand is even considering creating a new visa for people fleeing environmental disasters caused by climate change. If implemented, this new visa category could admit up to 100 people a year into New Zealand. This can be seen as an early attempt to address migration that will soon happen on a much larger scale.
Even the way people define themselves by gender, race, relationships, work status and class are becoming more fluid. Finding common ground seems to be more important to us than stereotyping, which is becoming increasingly meaningless. With the rise of digital voice assistants through popular products such as Siri, Alexa and Google assistant, it was inevitable that it would not be long before we had the first genderless digital voice catering to individuals who do not identify as either male or female. Numerous brands, including H&M, COS and Agender have launched gender-neutral collections.
The voices of young people in terms of their ideas and perspectives on the world are being heard more than ever before. Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations Climate Summit on 23rd September 2019 is symptomatic of this new-found power. Even ten years ago, it would have been unimaginable for a 16-year-old to be holding the world’s leaders and politicians to account for their lack of action in the face of ecological disaster. This newly acquired respect for young people can only act as a catalyst for new ideas and challenges to the status quo.