Progress is fueled by the dreams of the young, especially dreams that did not come true. Children born into loveless riches will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to find the love they crave. Children born into poverty will often accomplish impossible tasks in order to have the security or possessions they desperately want. (Me . . . I only wanted to be left alone so I could read. Not exactly a great motivator to become hugely successful.)
I am connected to thousands of people all over the internet who had unfulfilled youthful dreams of being published writers. The sheer mass of people past their first youth (and second and third) who are now pursuing that dream could be the juggernaut that crashed through the boundaries established by the corporate publishers, bypassed the gatekeepers (agents), and helped create a whole new industry to service self-publishers. (If there is a need, there will always be someone out there willing to make a buck fulfilling that need.)
The present generations growing up won’t have those unfulfilled dreams of being published authors because they can sit down right now, write what they want, and publish it. They don’t have to strive for the dream of publishing — they can get it immediately. So how is that going to affect the future of publishing? It’s possible that the human need for storytelling will continue to fuel the book industry. It’s possible the unfulfilled dreams of the young will center more on making a fortune from writing, and so in later years, they will go chasing after corporate publishers. (Despite the myth of being able to make a fortune self-publishing, only a very small percentage of writers ever achieve that goal, and often the fortune comes when the self-publishers end up signing a contract with the corporate publishers.) It’s also possible the world will be completely different when the present generation of nineteen year olds reaches that age when their children are grown and they can indulge their dreams.
I don’t have a clue what this generation is like. Well — I have a smattering of a clue. In a recent article, You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’?, Paul Eisentein mentions that nearly a third of American 19-year-olds haven’t bothered to get their driver’s licenses yet. Some have no interest in cars, some can’t afford the payments, some have desire to deal with the outside world since they can find all the companionship they want via their various electronic appendages such as cellphones and Ipads. Whatever the reason for abandoning this automotive rite of passage, there is a huge difference between this generation and previous ones. They are just starting their journey, and the world will change to meet their needs. With as rapidly as things change, the gadgets that will run our lives twenty years from now have not yet even been imagined.
If you’re expecting me to provide a response to question in the title, “How Will the Unfulfilled Dreams of Today’s Youth Create the World of Tomorrow?” you’re out of luck. I don’t have an answer. I was hoping you did.