January 1, 2024•1,822 words
It's kind of a tradition in the blogger/pundit world to come out at the start of a new year and make a bunch of pompous predictions about what will happen in the upcoming year. I don't know why any of these people bother to do this, because they're always wrong, so the only value these predictions provide is the minor entertainment of being able to dig through their archives and see what they were specifically, embarrassingly wrong about.
Here at Biological Speculation, we believe there is a better way. That is why the B.S. Editorial Staff (myself) have recently returned from a mystic vision quest in which we were granted an exclusive vision of the upcoming year. Though some parts of the vision remain hazy, murky, possibly even drug-induced, we have managed to assemble the details we remember into a 100% guaranteed, fully accurate advance preview of 2024. If, by the end of the year, any of these visions have failed to pass, you are welcome to send a hand-written letter to our editorial offices asking for your money back.
No one will run in the 2024 election
As of the start of 2024, two states have already declared that Donald Trump is ineligible to appear on their presidential ballots, based on legal reasons that no one sincerely cares about. This has kicked off a predictably annoying bout of hand-wringing about whether removing candidates from ballots really serves the mystic ideal of Democracy, which nobody involved can even provide a coherent definition for. The obvious trap here is for people to wonder whether and how this will affect the Orange Man's presidential chances, but my visions have confirmed that that is taking a narrow view of the situation. Here is what will happen in 2024:
Inspired by the precedent set in Colorado and Maine, more states will begin removing candidates from their ballots, for ever more convoluted reasons. Florida will start things off by declaring that candidates without the first name "Ron" and last initial "D" are constitutionally ineligible. California will retaliate by imposing a paperwork requirement that requires the physical filing of forms too numerous to print by chopping down every tree currently on Earth, and then add a last-second environmental amendment that says the forms may not be printed on tree-sourced paper anyway. Idaho will determine that candidates must prove their lawful origin in the United States by producing at least 20 eyewitnesses from the birth. As the technicalities multiply, America will look to the Supreme Court to solve things, but when pressed, the Court will release a decision which states, in full, "we're not getting involved, y'all figure this one out on your own".
By the time the American public finally stumble into the voting booths across the nation, the ballots they receive will be nothing more than blank, unblemished pieces of paper. Dead-eyed officials, when pressed, will recite the official line they were given, which is that the public will be issued pens, forbidden from using the pens to mark the ballots, and then requested to feed the ballots into counting machines and the pens back into little bowls.
This development will be received with great relief by the American people, at first. Media and institutions will brag that the new method of "decision-free voting" has "saved Our Democracy". The weary public, glad to not have to sit through weeks of accusation and counter-accusation about fraud and voter suppression, will agree. But soon a problem will arise; everyone will realize that without anyone sitting in the Oval Office, there is nobody to blame when things go wrong. After much consternation, the government will agree to solve the problem in the most American way possible, by auctioning off the Presidency to the highest bidder. As of the end of 2024, when my visions go blank, bidding is still active, well into the hundreds of billions, between a wide array of competitors including the Harvard University endowment; a corporate conglomeration containing Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Comcast, Ticketmaster, and Chiquita Fruit; a faceless cabal with an AI-generated "spokesperson" calling itself the "Deeper State", and the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. When polled, Americans will agree that things could probably be worse, but they'd rather not speculate exactly how.
New frontiers in metaconsumption
As of the end of 2023, the most popular genre of "online entertainment" is something that could probably be called "watching people consume entertainment". For reasons that will never make sense to anyone born before 1992, today's youth prefer to get even their virtual experiences secondhand. They watch streams in which other people play video games, "reaction videos" in which other people are filmed watching popular viral videos, and endless "content" which involves other people opening, wearing, or using mass-market consumer products.
In 2024, this trend will accelerate. The first big breakthrough viral streamer of 2024 will be a 13-year-old girl who films herself watching other people's video game streams, alone, in a room whose only decor is too many mirrors, reflecting scattered shards of the video back to the audience endlessly. Algorithms, blind idiot gods chasing virality for its own sake, will sense the potential here and exaggerate it beyond any rational limit. By the end of the year, the most popular memes will be distorted pictures of mildly amused faces, with captions like "POV tfw u see the funny gif". Your youtube recommendations will fill up with "viral stars" you've never heard of, who have names like "EccentricAdjustableTunafish", reacting to reactions to their own reaction videos. Someone will make a video in which a newborn baby is ripped from the womb, placed in the center of a room full of computer monitors, and filmed shrieking with incomprehension and terror as each screen plays a different work of metacontent at high volume. This video will become the most viewed viral video of all time, and it will spawn a whole genre of spin-offs and sequels.
At this point, it's already tiresome to say that the people of the broader West exist in a spiritually adrift society. The traditional faiths have struggled to adapt to modernity, but nothing has come along to replace them. Faith in Scientific Progress is certainly wearing thin--even the "rationalist techno-optimist" types won't stop yammering about how AI is going to give us a very real, very angry god, any day now. People are turning to a whole spectrum of esoteric spiritual-ish traditions like astrology, paganism, and various secondhand, garbled components of Buddhism. The Pundits are saying the conditions are ripe for a big spiritual re-awakening, but as usual, The Pundits are cowards who lack vision.
The big religious revivals of the coming year will succeed beyond anybody's wildest dreams, but they won't draw adherents to anything predictable like Christianity or Islam or Scientology. Those faiths don't have enough of the quality that today's spiritually adrift huddled masses crave: grotesque, glorified violence.
The big winners of the 2024 Great Awakening will be half-forgotten gods like Huitzilopochtli, Moloch, Kronos, and others whose names have been lost for millennia. One trait will be common to all their cults: insatiable demand for human sacrifice. More respectable converts will petition for legalized ritual slaughter of prisoners and various unbelievers and undesirables, while the less respectable will just set up pyramids, idols, and altars, and get to carving.
The remaining educated materialist atheists will mock these new cultists mercilessly, until a few of them get publicly sacrificed for blasphemy, and then decide that actually separation of church and state means the state can't force its imperialistic dogmas about ritualistic cannibalism onto any historic faith communities. The new ancient cults will then start fighting each other and sacrificing each other's members; by the end of the year it will be unclear who's winning, but a lot of people will have definitely lost.
Taylor Swift crowned Queen of mid-size nation
Readers, I really tried to find out which nation this is. When I came out of my first round of visions, the name seemed so clear to me. But as soon as I went to write it down, it slipped away from my grasp. After fruitless attempts to recall it, I "re-entered" the "vision state" armed with pen and paper with which to record the name as soon as I heard it. When I returned, I had a whole list of names on the paper. But when I looked at them, I realized they were fake, insane country names like "Molgrokia" or "Adjirbazstan" or "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
So we'll call this country "Hypothetica", and all will become clear when these events begin to transpire.
By the middle of winter, Taylor Swift is unsatisfied with her football player boyfriend. She dumps him after he blows a playoff game and sets her sites higher. Soon, pictures emerge of her hanging around the Crown Prince of Hypothetica, who is young, charismatic, fabulously wealthy, and (of course) next in line for the throne. The romance takes off, and within months there's a royal engagement, and a wedding soon after. Swift is entered into the line of succession after a surprisingly small amount of legal maneuvering.
This is when the trouble starts. Within weeks, the Crown Prince and the King are both dead of suspiciously natural causes. Various journalists and officials who attempt to look deeper into the circumstances start dying of suspiciously natural causes as well, and soon nobody bothers to question the official story. Hypothetica is officially renamed to "Hypothetica (Taylor's Version)".
Newly coronated Queen Taylor I announces an unprecedented military buildup. Factories are refitted to produce armaments; schools are refitted to train soldiers. The propaganda ministry is working double and triple shifts churning out patriotic songs, set to trendy folk-pop instrumentals. The foreign legion expands by battalions upon battalions of fanatical Swifties recruited from abroad. Though it's unclear who Queen Taylor I plans to attack by the end of the year, multiple neighboring countries have offered to preemptively surrender with generous terms. They have all been turned down.
The return of disco
Look I know it sounds insane but my visions were very clear about this. Pop songs will embrace disco hooks. Lo-fi disco beats will play in the background of hip coffee shops. A hit streaming TV show will use only classic disco songs as its soundtrack, and every one of them will end up in a bunch of TikToks. "Disco@me" will become one of those youth catchphrases that gets repeated everywhere in any context. Queen Taylor I will take a break from reviewing top-secret invasion plans to record a disco album; it will sell more copies than every other album that year combined.
Readers (all three(?) of you), I leave you with my solemn vow that all that I have written will come to pass in the year 2024. Or, if not, something even dumber and worse will happen.