A Guide to The Volcanic Age
There is always that strange period at the dawn of a decade. Still, we are stuck in the throes of all that came before, locked in the same rhythms and rhymes without noticing that it can never be the same again. The faces, voices, ideas, and values of the last ten years will be restructured until they are unrecognizable and something else entirely. And in this change, so do we adapt, almost forgetting we were once dedicated followers to fashions now found dated.
But what happens when there’s a delay in that changing of the guard? What happens when global pestilence thwarts the advancement of culture and locks us into a cryogenic pop wasteland? For anyone alive in the last two years, instead of the exposure to fresh air, we have been suffocating on the same oxygen, recounting the same people, places, and things that seem pale and stale after the mindfuck we’ve been through. It is as if the Teens Decade has stubbornly extended, unwilling to relinquish its grip on historical vitality.
Wait, can you feel it? The heat sizzling through the air? The rumbling and bed of embers underneath our feet? It’s time to say goodbye to that faded decade. It’s time to say farewell to the old ways we once knew and cherished. A new era has risen, full of possibilities and liberation. A period much wilder, freer, and more explosive, untamed, and unwritten.
But don’t be afraid or overwhelmed. Without eruptions, there exists no synthesis of change. Grounds must break, winds must shake, and fires must blaze. As we walk together through this brave, passionate world, here is a tool for our survival. Here is a guide to what’s coming, how to prepare, and how to dive in. Here is a guide to how to embrace the evolution to a decade designed to define a century.
Grab my hand, my friends, as we venture through The Volcanic Age.
The Youth Vote
In a country of over 350 million people, half of the population is under the age of 40. Therefore, within the next ten years, Millennials and Gen-Z will take over the voting power in America. With such power comes immense responsibility, but that responsibility can only weigh heavy if we allow it. After witnessing the strangulation of progress held by the archaic souls that populate Washington, we are more than ready to create spaces for those who are more inclined to understand our needs.
Though one may be tempted to become disillusioned in an increasingly uncertain world, now is the time to become even more aware. We must pick our speakers, our leaders, and our rally criers. We must pick them before they pick them for us.
It will not be easy, and there may be a few bumps along the way. After all, we are not a mere mass of similar thoughts and desires. But if we want to see a vast reshaping of our nation, we must harness our worth and implement solutions. Never before in history has there been such a massive group of younger people with so much power at their fingertips. The future is ours, but only if we want it.
Coming out of an era of fast fashion and Gucci x Adidas-like collaborations, it only makes sense for us to retreat into more individualized spheres of expression. More and more, we are searching for our own version of luxury, divorced from the rigors of homogeny and even from the conventional idea of what comfort means.
It is a time of self-cultivation, self-preservation, and self-appreciation when our private perceptions of leisure, opulence, and affluence become more intimate and intricate. Perhaps this is a vintage jewelry box or a pair of old jeans or a tiny bottle of expensive perfume. Envision a sea of stylish wanderers of all walks, creating their own universes and finding sheer happiness, distancing themselves from the mass production of extravagance we have been fed for too long.
Weed is the pulse of the century. While the last 100 years saw drug culture explode and implode with various destructive substances, what remains is a miraculous natural, organic green plant proven to improve one’s health and well-being without any harmful properties. However, as weed becomes more widely accepted, decriminalized, and even legalized, it has also become big business. Enter the weed tycoons—growers, manufacturers, and dispensary owners who are now making major money from the selling of smoke culture.
From specific strains to elaborate bongs to collaborations with celebrities, it has never been more legitimate and lucrative to profit off weed, especially in Michigan where it is the third largest economy. Get ready to witness a revolution of vending machines and shops for edibles. Prepare yourself for festivals devoted to the gods of cannabis. Look out for drive-thrus with weed on the menus. Things can only get higher.
In the Teens Decade, as social media hit a cultural peak, it felt like a marvelous equalizer, democratizing fame and bringing the world together. However, as the creators of these outlets became more fascinated by invading privacy and igniting profits, that veil of harmony was quickly replaced by algorithms that have forced many to revert to the levels of anonymity once felt in a pre-Instagram world. Yet, what is next? What is on the horizon?
With Facebook overrun by parents and extended family while Twitter and the aforementioned IG are losing their luster, what will fill the void? While many have flocked to the more laid-back, less-frills atmospheres of TikTok and Discord, there still feels like something much larger and more concrete is around the corner, a new app that will bring back a networking source for creatives and support the growth of art within this new age.
Queering of Pop
We are in the midst of a fascinating sexual revolution. With musicians like Harry Styles and Kid Cudi embracing more androgynous and outright queer imagery within their oeuvres, one can only imagine how normalized these expressions will be in the next five years or ten years. Kids and teenagers will grow up with slews of queer artists as their idols, not simply of the Lil Nas X variety that have dominated, but also those with more nuance, clarity, and complexity.
There will be no forsaking pronouns, experiences, nor traumas. There will be no relinquishing truths and realities in favor of false cheer. The queering of pop, which arguably began in the 1970s and was revised at the end of the last decade, will be filled with smart, deviant, chart-topping, radio-friendly artists beloved not by subcultures and marginalized groups, but by a willing and accepting mainstream.
Books You Can See
This may be the most pictorial-oriented period since Ancient Egypt. With our obsessions with visuals, photography, and video, the eye has never had more of a feast for its functions. And as video has come to dominate music and art, within this new age, it will also come to dominate the world of literature. In the same way the music video challenged the way we experienced sound, the explosion of digital spaces will challenge the way we experience words.
As audiobooks become the norm in literary consumption, it will be of no surprise when the idea of watching a book becomes a norm of its own. Prepare yourself for a barrage of literary films with an accompanied new breed of celebrity: smart, savvy superstar writers, whose images and style will matter as much as their words and storytelling.
With the world burning both figuratively and literally, that ageless science fiction fantasy of colonizing space has never been more sought after. And in a world where billionaires like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos had the helm of intergalactic frivolity and exploration, this fantasy may be coming truer and sooner than we think.
Imagine weeks-long cruises to the moon aboard luxury space liners, where gourmet astronaut food is served amidst zero gravity. Imagine gazing outside of an observation deck at clusters of stars. And, once arriving on the moon, imagine taking tours in bubbled buggies, dodging craters, and taking selfies with a blueish marble known as Earth in the background. The deeper we dive into this nouveau space race, the greater the possibilities.
The Color Black
Originally the standard of mourners, the color black once stood for somber and depressing moods. However, after a century of little dresses, radical Panthers, and disaffected goths, black has become a symbol of absolute cool.
In the volcanic age, this simple hue represents the ambiguity of sexuality, class, race, and religion that is breaking down barriers. Whereas our initial post-pandemic energy centered on fanciful, decorative fashions, that coolness of black will define a time of ease, introspection, and sophistication, where we move from worrying where we’re going to knowing exactly such.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the last decade was its reckoning of gender and sexual politics that had long since hindered the success, support, and psyche of women. In this age, one foresees something quite similar happening with men and their inner demons.
While men have had the advantage of upward mobility for centuries, what has been missing is examining the damage caused by gender roles and expectations at the expense of emotional expression. We hear it within the manosphere circuit. We see it through rap murders. We read about it inside government offices. With a more inclusive future in our grasp, men will be forced to acknowledge the quiet pain that has been passed off as normalcy, not only as a way to relieve themselves but also to relieve those whom they transfer their anger towards.
Celebrity culture is fascinatingly gruesome these days. A sea of banal, repetitive faces running in circles, incapable of offering sincere sparkle. What began as a desire for relatability and familiarity has now morphed into a cycle of desperation and boredom.
Helmed by reality giants like the Kardashian clan, the 24-hour celebrity accessibility that dominated the last era now feels dated and uninspiring. Knowing too much about these figures, their familiarity becomes not unlike that of a friend or a neighbor—you can see them whenever, wherever, and however without any sense of surprise.
It is why ultra-private beings like Beyoncé still capture the public’s desire: there is a brilliant distance that allows us to view her not as “one of us” but like celebrities had been looked at for ages—as a mythical, otherworldly person who simply happens to be living on the same planet. In this new age, celebrity will move slowly but surely away from its aura of authenticity and back into an orbit of exclusivity.
Hip Hop Evolution
It is hard to imagine a time when hip-hop didn’t dominate. What was once seen as a colossal, amusing, disposable fad has in the last four decades become the most popular genre of music across the globe. It is spoken in every language, translated into the most accessible pop songs, and analyzed by leaders of academia. Yet, for all of its growth and transformation, what will be its legacy within this decade?
While it morphed into a more unhinged and drugged-out milieu with the explosion of trap and mumble in the Teens Decade, one must consider where things are moving as we drift into a more sobering, expressive period. The greatest argument may be that male rappers will no longer remain the most prominent.
With the superstardom of Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Cardi B, and countless other open-minded comrades, there is an immense shift in female power, forcing many to recognize the vast skills and artistry that greatly outweigh their male counterparts. As this volcanic age surges, we will witness a powerful future in which women are the main chroniclers, allowing hip-hop to address issues, concerns, and emotions it has been desperately ignoring for far too long.