There's nothing wrong with longevity, if I have any left, but here in Japan I've had a glimpse of the future and I'm not all that sure I want to be there when it arrives.
It's looking way too virtual for an insistently palpable individual like myself. I've always liked face-to-face, hand-to-hand, cheek-to-cheek, even cheek-to-jowl, if that's all there is. What they're planning for us elders, elderlings, and those who will follow is cold, metallic, and wireless, with all the emotional warmth of a silicon chip.
They're already well along in developing robot caregivers (might as well use a bespoke forklift), but you really get the sense that the old ways are fading, the old meanings falling silent, and the old values losing their luster, when you read a newspaper article like the one I found at The Daily Yomiuri.
Not that I am ever going to be conned into such a situation, mind you (no way; I'll circumnavigate the earth in a canoe first), but the fact of the steady distancing between the generations and what that portends, the growing desensitization regarding the issue of ignoring your elders to as impersonal a level as possible, already has me polishing my paddles.
The market researchers are so sure of the social outcome that government and corporations are already turning elder-isolation into a marketing ploy! (Remember, Japan is the developed world's coalmine canary):
The Tokyo metropolitan government's Waterworks Bureau is to offer a new service enabling families who live apart from their elderly parents to check on them, by sending relatives daily e-mails with details of the volume of water their parents have used. Such a security service has already been introduced for gas consumption and some models of electric kettles…
In other words, the water company et al. will belatedly update you on the survival status of your forebears.
Like I said, if a public utility is ever my go-between, I'm outta here. When it reaches that point I'll open the taps, turn on the gas, plug in my electric kettle, and launch my canoe. Anyone else who's interested, let's meet on some pre-arranged tropical islands and start our own government: World Elder Restoration Of Classy Karma.