23 predictions for 2023
We can't tell the future, but we can tell some lies and call them "predictions"
During the final yoga class of 2022, our teacher encouraged us to be present in the moment.
“The past already happened,” the yoga teacher said. “Now, it’s that time of year when we look back and reflect on stuff with lists: the ten best movies, ten best tacos, ten best whatever. But you saw the movie, and you ate the taco. They’re in the past. They’re gone.”
That was a bummer. I had seen some good movies and eaten some good tacos in 2022. I knew they were in the rearview mirror, but the yoga teacher’s reminder made me feel empty and maybe a little melancholy. I tried to fill the void with thoughts of future films and future tacos. But once again, the yoga teacher had an answer to quiet my mind.
“The future isn’t even a thing,” she said. “We’re always thinking of the future, but the future doesn’t exist yet, and maybe it never will. The future is nothing.”
Double-bummer. The best tacos and movies were behind me, but there was no guarantee that there would be tacos and movies in the future, either. Actually, if I was picking up what the yoga teacher was putting down, the future might not even happen.
“The present is all we have,” she said. “Let’s live in the present.”
For the next ninety minutes, I put aside culinary and cinematic distractions. I forgot about the past and ignored the future. I lived in the present, or tried to.
When our practice finished, I rolled up my yoga mat. Then I walked around the corner to Cactus Taqueria for some carnitas. I lived in that delicious present for as long as it lasted.
Back at home, Christina and I made plans to go to the movies. Should we see Babylon or Avatar: The Way of Water? One movie was about the past, the other about the future; if we made it a double-feature, that would be six hours of living in the present: three hours in past-present, three hours in future-present.
“I gotta get some work done before we go,” I said.
“What are you working on?”
“Last piece of the year. My predictions for 2023.”
“Nobody can predict the future, Nostradamus.”
Christina was right. Nobody can predict the future. According to the yoga teacher, the future probably isn’t even real. But that seemed like some heavy shit to lay on Christina in the closing days of 2022.
So, I went into my office, shut the door, and fired up my computer. I wrote this list of twenty-three predictions for 2023. I knew my predictions were an an exercise in folly, but in that moment—with the memory of tacos lingering on my lips and the anticipation of a movie on my mind—I lived in the present where I channeled Nostradamus.
Here are my predictions for the coming year.
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Someone will ask if you think the housing market will collapse. Despite zero knowledge in this area, you will answer with confidence.
Stiffness in your back will ruin your day, but you’ll decide to splurge on a massage, and that’ll work wonders on your back, but you’ll fail to heed the massage therapist’s advice about stretching, which means you’ll return for another massage very soon.
A song from your teen years will return to the music charts, thanks to the fickle tastes of today’s youth and a TikTok algorithm that’s purpose-built to squeeze all the money it can out of old intellectual property.
Despite an intense pressure campaign, doxing, and even death threats, the tenth dentist won’t cave and recommend Crest.
Your friends will ask you what shows you’re watching. You’ll tell them the name of the show you’re watching, but they won’t know it. They’ll promise to check it out, but you’ll know that their promise is as hallow as the promise you made to watch the show they’re currently watching.
One evening, you’ll stop to watch the sunset. You’ll snap a picture, and while the picture won’t be as good as the real thing, you’ll share it on social media, and people will think you’re the sort of person who is living right, but then they’ll scroll on to the next thing, and you’ll go another 300-plus days without posting any sunsets at all.
Someone will try to sell you a used NFT.
At brunch, you’ll order the egg-white omelet with kale, tomato, and shallot. You’ll be proud of yourself (and you should be!), but you’ll vow to return to that brunch joint for the Eggs Benedict over Belgian waffles.
A celebrity you loved when you were a kid, but who isn’t that old, will suddenly pass away, which will put “everything” into perspective. But that perspective won’t last long. After you bond with your friends about losing another childhood idol, you will order the Eggs Benedict over Belgian waffles because “life is short” and carbs make everything feel better.
Lists will remain a popular form of internet content.
The founder of a failed Web3 startup will shift to hawking Web4—a technology that is simultaneously centralized and decentralized, and even though that doesn’t make any sense, people will invest because FOMO is a motherfucker.
The Los Angeles City Council will put aside allegations of corruption and racism in order to sell advertising rights to high speed chases.
A new app will promise to kill email, but email won’t die because email can’t be killed by conventional weapons.
Your friend who cut out refined sugar will fall off the wagon and land in a pile of donuts.
A billionaire man-child will piss off nearly everyone by flaunting norms and breaking laws, but there won’t be any consequences, except that their fanboys will love them more, even though that love can never fill the hole in the billionaire’s heart.
Your friend who doesn’t know shit about shit will suddenly claim to be an expert on everything, but if you listen carefully, you’ll realize that everything they think they know can be traced back to a single podcast.
You’ll go to a party where you’ll eat entirely too much cheese, but it’ll be worth it because cheese make you happy and you’re old enough to know that you should take your happiness where you can get it.
Your flight will be delayed due the fact that so many pilots are retiring and U.S. policymakers and business leaders totally failed to plan for that foreseeable labor shortage. Unfortunately, that context won’t be of any comfort as you wait at the gate and contemplate the horrors of eating at Sbarro.
Nostalgia for the 1990s will reach new heights, but each unearthed artifact of ‘90s culture will be met with indifference by Gen-Xers.
After watching another masterful Ethan Hawke performance, you’ll tell your social media followers that he’s a “national treasure,” and everyone will agree with you, but come Oscar time, Ethan Hawke will be snubbed.
A total blowhard will compare apples to oranges, but when you call them out on the flaw in their methodology, they’ll gaslight you, engage in whataboutism by shifting the topic to bananas, and ultimately, resort to ad hominem attacks.
Labor Day will sneak up on you.
I will eat tacos, see movies, and practice yoga. To the extent that any of those activities leads to a story, I will share it on Situation Normal.
#24 Tic Tok will be banned in the U.S. 3 million Tic Tok'ers will migrate south to Mexico or north to Canada. In the vacuum left behind, Youtube Shorts will flop and people will order basic cable in record numbers.
I can relax now. All the important things that are going to happen, with or without me, are on this list and I don't have to think about it anymore. I'll just practice living in the present and let myself be surprised.
So fun to read this, Michael!