A century ago, The New York Herald newspaper commissioned popular English novelist W. L. George to write a full-page article about what he thought the world would look like in 100 years. George’s predictions for the future were published in the newspaper’s May 7, 1922 edition. And some of his prophecies were startlingly accurate.
Flying The Friendly Skies
George suspected that in 2022, commercial flying would be “entirely commonplace.” He predicted the passenger steamer would survive on the coasts. But, it will have “disappeared on the main routes, and been replaced by flying convoys.” Which he believed would “cover the distance between London and New York in about 12 hours.”
The author suggested that people in the year 2022 would “probably never see a wire outlined against the sky.” He said it was “practically certain that wireless telegraphy and wireless telephones will have crushed the cable system long before the century is done.”
While Hollywood was still in the era of black-and-white silent films, George predicted that movies would be “more attractive” in 2022.
“The figures on the screen will not only move, but they will have their natural colors and speak with ordinary voices,” George wrote.
Preserved By Tradition
George thought that many of the buildings that were standing in 1922 would be preserved 100 years in the future. He said it was conceivable that the Capitol in Washington D.C., many of the universities, and a number of churches would still be standing. And, he believed they would be “almost unaltered” and “preserved by tradition.”
The author believed it was “practically certain” that by 2022 all women will have “discarded the idea that they are primarily ‘makers of men.'” He also predicted a large number of women in Congress, on the judicial bench, in civil service posts, and in the President’s cabinet.
“Most fit women will then be following an individual career. All positions will be open to them and a great many women will have risen high,” George wrote. “But it is unlikely that women will have achieved equality with men.”
What Happens In Vegas…
George declared that marriage would still exist in 2022 because mankind has a “taste for the institution.” However, he believed divorce would “probably be as easy everywhere as it is in Nevada.”
W.L. George Didn’t Get Everything Right
George was surprisingly on point with many of his predictions. But, he was far from perfect. He thought that by 2022, children would likely be “taken over by the state. Not only schooled but fed and clad, and at the end of its training placed in a post suitable to its abilities.” Yikes!
He was also way off with his population estimation, guessing the United States would have about 240 million citizens. He only missed by about 100 million. He also guessed that the “idea of North and South, East and West will have almost disappeared.”
George missed the mark when he speculated that the workday would be cut down to seven hours at most. He made this prediction because he believed Americans in 2022 would be “less enterprising and much more pleasure-loving.”
Finally, the British author was a bit too optimistic about censorship and didn’t see cancel culture coming. He was sure that by 2022 the “battle” would be over, and everyone would be free to say and think what they wanted without consequence.
“In 2022, American literature will be a literature of culture. The battle will be over and the muzzle off. There will be no more things one can’t say, and things one can’t think,” George wrote. “No doubt there will be in 2022 people who think as they would have thought in 1922, or even a little earlier, but a great liberalism of mind will prevail.”
Maybe we’ll get there by 2122.