Community & Current Events

Social trends to expect in 2016

By: Jill Buchner

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Community & Current Events

Social trends to expect in 2016

By: Jill Buchner
The world changes from one year to the next in ways that most of us could never predict, but Ford Motor Company tries to stay ahead of the trends by relying on a futurist, Sheryl Connelly, to predict where we'll be and what needs we'll have in the future. We spoke to Connelly about what to expect in 2016. Here are some of the highlights.

1. We'll find good news and heroes to focus on.
As tragedies and distasters like the Syrian refugee crisis play out in the news, people are beginning to find stories of resilience and hope to grasp onto. In 2015, a Global Attitudes Survey found that 58 percent of Canadians were worried about ISIS, 45 percent were kept up at night by climate change and 43 percent fretted about Iran's nuclear program. But a quick check of your Twitter feed in 2016 will show all kinds of good news stories of people accomplishing good deeds. Already we've seen incidents of these feel-good stories spreading cheer. Did you hear about the Toronto couple cancelling their wedding to sponsor Syrian refugees? Or the WestJet Christmas miracles that have been popularized in recent years? "To be a hero in modern time is interesting, because the people we are celebrating are not necessarily people doing death-defying feats or extraordinary acts of courage; they're people in your neighbourhood who are redefining what it means to be a good citizen," says Connelly. In 2016, expect to see more of these uplifting stories that are spread more easily than ever thanks to social media.

2. We're going to focus on doing more with fewer things.
"The last couple of decades have been characterized as the era of excess. Bigger is better, the more the merrier. Everybody was into conspicuous displays of consumption," says Connelly. But since the recession, people have grown more concerned about where they spend their money. In 2016, we're going to see a reaction to the earlier push to have all kinds of tech toys; instead, people will increasingly want to do more with fewer multipurpose gadgets (think, a tablet instead of an e-reader, a computer and a DVD player). At work, this could mean using Slack, where all your tools and communications are in one place rather than having multiple pieces of software. "But you can only do this if you have ingeniously designed goods," she explains.

3. We're going to feel short on time all the time.
Not all trends can be good, and this one might make you feel overwhelmed, but chances are you've already felt some of the pressure of an overflowing schedule in the past few years. You're not imagining it if you feel like you spend too much of your life at the office. As Canadians, we come third from last for paid vacation time when compared with workers in other economically advanced countries. But some of the problem has more to do with technology. As we carry around devices everywhere we go, we're expected to be communicating all the time, whether for work or personal reasons, so that "me time" is never really spent alone. Software like Rescue Time is popping up to help you spend what little time you have more wisely. In cars, time will be treated as precious, allowing you to stay connected to multitask as you commute. Meanwhile, other trends (like mindfulness, listed below) will help you keep your head straight amidst the chaos.

4. Artificial intelligence will seek to make life easier.
Remember when you heard about Amazon delivering packages via drones? Well, the future is here. Technology is trying to take more and more daily tasks off our hands. Siri, the built-in "intelligent assistant" that has been on Apple's smartphones for years, is now on Apple TV, helping you find something to watch when you're looking for a little entertainment without even having to hold a remote. Apps are available on your smartphone to help you remember to do everything from exercise to get your kids immunized. And while Connelly says we might not see autonomous vehicles on the road in 2016, they're definitely on their way, so stay tuned for more intelligence to come.

5. Mindfulness will grow even more popular.
You've certainly heard of mindfulness before, but it's reached the point where it's no longer a fad; it's mainstream, says Connelly. "In recent years, there is an emergent body of research that talks about how mindfulness can actually improve your physical wellbeing, your mental health and your productivity." Some progressive school boards (including the Toronto District School Board) and employers (like Google) have begun introducing mindfulness meditation into schools and workplaces, but expect this to become way more common in 2016. Next year, your boss might suggest taking a few moments of quiet time before a meeting to clear your head and become present for the discussion at hand. And if you haven't seen the latest trend at bookstores, mindful colouring books are making a huge splash right now.

Want to see more of what the future holds? Check out these automated options for smart homes.
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Social trends to expect in 2016

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