Most of these are pretty dark. Sorry.
1.) More tablets!
The iPad was the first, but there will be more. Low hanging fruit, I know, but I thought I’d warm up with an easy one.
2.) The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will peacefully fall under the wise stewardship of Kim Jong-un, who will bring about another one hundred years of peace and plentitude.
Hahahah, just kidding! As Kim Jong-il’s health deteriorates, rival factions among the military and his own family will compete for his throne, leading the state into increasingly erratic behavior. On the plus side, this might put some distance between them and China. On the downside, South Korea might soon get the whole peninsula to itself, whether it wants it or not.
3.) From its start, the Republican presidential primary will make Jersey Shore look like the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
I suspect Palin will run, if only because there’s no other way to sustain her cultural relevance past the breathtaking season finale of Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Haley Barbour’s cachet within the party has decreased by any significant degree, so he might still run as well. Mitt Romney’s been running for the 2012 nomination since somewhere near the end of the 2008 primary battle. As if the lineup weren’t already insane enough, Fox News is going to do as much as it can to heighten the crazy even further. A tight race between increasingly bellicose caricatures (many of whom are Fox News contributors or regulars) is guaranteed ratings Viagra, especially when a lot of these candidates will be reluctant to even speak to other news outlets.
4.) Things are going to get worse for American civil liberties.
Guantanamo’s going to be open for a loooooooong time, and we now have formalized indefinite detention. Plus, I’m fairly convinced that, instead of letting Julian Assange face those Swedish rape charges, the Justice Department is going to have him extradited and dust off the ol’ Espionage Act. But even if they decide to let Assange face justice in Western Europe instead of “justice” over here, thereby maintaining the First Amendment status quo, things will certainly not get better. See here for a further exploration of why.
5.) Your various public and private personas will continue to melt together in increasingly uncontrollable and disconcerting ways.
Online behemoths like Google and Facebook aren’t just becoming even more ubiquitous when it comes to how you interact with people: they’re also finding more points of contact between one another. For a while now, we haven’t so much been managing our public projections of ourselves as we’ve been negotiating with them. That trend is going to continue, and get weirder yet.
6.) Not only that, but forces like Gawker and Anonymous are going to exacerbate the problem.
Whether they have a political agenda, a personal axe to grind, or just want page views, Nick Denton, his faceless hacker enemies, and the lesser imitators of each will continue to publicly humiliate random people. On the plus side, those random people might find themselves elevated to celebrity status, at which point they can choose between a reality show, a political candidacy, or both.
7.) Online espionage and cyber warfare will become a more frequently used tool of states.
The fun part is going to start when this trend clashes with Anonymous’ growing prominence as a political actor.
8.) The economy will continue to suck.
9.) House committee hearings are going to be fucking nuts.
Various Republican committee chairs are going to start holding hearings on the most insane topics imaginable, partially because of wide-eyed conspiracy theorists like Michelle Bachmann and partially because of a cynical desire to drown the Obama administration in Whitewater-esque faux-scandals in advance of the 2012 election. Even John Boehner will start to get uncomfortable with all of this.
10.) The national security apparatus is going to find some new secret wars to wage.
After Pakistan and Yemen, who knows what’s next? My money’s on Somalia or Tajikistan.
11.) South Sudan will vote to secede, and violence will ensue.
As if the people of Sudan didn’t already have enough problems, Khartoum won’t let a secession occur quietly and peacefully. If they don’t reject the referendum results entirely, then they’ll pick a fight over where the border with their new neighbor gets drawn.
12.) Putin will clearly signal his intention to become President of Russia again.
Medvedev’s term as understudy-in-chief runs out in May 2012. In the meantime, Putin will make no secret of his intention to retake the crown, thereby cementing Medvedev’s irrelevance in the eyes of the world and turning Russian democracy into an even bigger joke.
13.) On the plus side, TV will still be good.
The new seasons of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Community, and others will be predictably awesome. The Walking Dead might finally find its legs. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are going to mine a lot of gold out of C-SPAN.
14.) But mostly things will stay the same.
For the vast majority of the world’s population, life will go on more or less as it always has. At least until global climate change causes droughts in some places, floods in others, and generally exacerbates resource scarcity. But I’ll save that for my “Predictions for 2020.”
Happy New Year! And remember: Even if I end up being mostly right (which I sincerely hope is not the case), you and most of the people you care about will probably still be doing pretty well. As for the other stuff, well, there’s always room for improvement.