“There’s a lot of uncertainty about our future selves,” says Adam Alter, professor of marketing at NYU. When we contemplate the days to come, we see someone “far murkier and more abstract than our very real, tangible, concrete present selves.” Our future selves, in other words, are strangers—and it’s much harder to plan for a stranger than to plan for yourself. “Because Americans privilege their wellbeing today over the wellbeing of their future selves,” Alter notes, “they save far too little for retirement. Your future self will be forced to deal with the consequences.” It doesn’t have to be that way.
See what happens when we trick our brains to peer into the future—and get better acquainted with our future selves.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Irritating Confidante
John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.
My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s
Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band
Can it be again?
The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.