The Pyramids of Giza, the ruins of Machu Picchu, the lost city of Troy and the ancient Mesopotamian structures that dot the Middle East are all massive archaeological finds and undertakings. These seemingly otherworldly realms remind us of what we used to be and symbolize the forward progress of humanity spanning over millennia.
Imagine three thousand years from now, someone burlier than Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones is digging through the rubble over what used to be Miami. What would he find? There would obviously be ancient structures, strange skeletons of organisms past and words from some dead language scattering the buildings and streets.
These things are not all the archaeologist would discover. He would come across a myriad objects made of the same odd material: plastic. Amongst the rubble rest water bottles (BPA free of course), empty Target bags and more trinkets than one could ever imagine. Is this the most idolatrous society to have ever lived or is this strange material simply the vessel that brought on its downfall? The sad answer is that it is neither. Instead of discovering beautiful pottery or magnificent tapestries depicting daily life, all the archaeologist will hear is: “Docta Jones, Docta Jones! What is Furbee?”
I am no environmentalist, nor am I one to forgo a good plastic spoon instead of doing the dishes, but I do think we humans need to plan for the long haul when it comes to our advertising and design. If some poor soul were to unearth Chicago 2,000 years from now, he would think, based on our billboards of course, that we were the most alcoholic, law-suit filing, pretentious group of people to have ever lived. I don’t mean to say that we aren’t all of those things, but let’s at least attempt to make people in the future believe otherwise.
Simply put, while we currently search for ancient water gathering tools on parched river beds, people millennia from now will be finding jellyfish without legs that say WalMart, and strange rubber disposables that resemble snake skins, which come in all sizes, textures and colors.
I propose that we begin planning for the long haul. We must make ourselves look good for generations and centuries to come. There are certain things that should remain, as they perpetuate a positive image. The American Girl Store, Major League Baseball and Gatorade are all products and organizations that contribute to the greater, more attractive good. On the other hand, places like PINK must go.
All in all, people of this day and age have done an immense amount. Our productivity, technology and global nature greatly overshadow many of the developments made in the past. Although we have contributed magnificently to the track record of the human race, all will be for naught if we fail to eliminate or modify the objects we leave behind. Nobody will remember how the iPad made it easier for radiologists to show and share x-rays if all that can be found in the rubble of Boston, Mass. is a plastic pair of white sunglasses and a half-empty tube of puffy paint.