One-of-a-Kind Experience with FutureMe

3 05 2011

For those of us about to graduate college, things have changed in an innumerable amount of ways.

It is incredible how moments of “I’m how old?” are already creeping in. You’re still someone’s child, but you’re no longer a kid. You have seen several presidents, nations and gas prices rise or falter.

Do you remember when your curfew was the street lights coming on? When a ‘chaser’ was the last kid to join the herd following the ice cream truck down the block? When you actually memorized your friend’s phone numbers? When homework was a worksheet of multiplication facts and maybe some spelling words?

Long past are the days of rushing home to sign on to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), updating your LiveJournal and checking friend requests on Myspace.

Now, you can do this anywhere, from your iPhone or smartphones ¾ just the brand of the moment having changed to Blackberry messenger (BBM), Tumblr and Facebook.  With all the advancements made in our short lives, have you ever wondered about sending yourself a message? Yourself weeks, months or even years from now, that is?
Well one such service exists, so you better think long and hard about what you want to remind your future self to remember.

The website, FutureMe, has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2003. Programmer friends Matt Sly, 33, and Jay Patrikios, 35, devised the website so that users could send advice, encouragement or just silly questions to their future selves via email.

There is a structure in place, however, because the FutureMe team didn’t want to become some sort of personal scheduler or novelty. “We didn’t want to become a reminder service,” Sly told the LA Times in 2007. “‘Dear Future Me: Pick up your laundry.’”
There is a minimum hold time of one month for all letters, the maximum delivery date being 50 years from when it is written.

Sly, a graduate of Yale’s School of Management, is responsible for the software used by FutureMe that allows for a timed delay in delivering the emails.

Patrikios, who received a BFA from the Pratt Institute, picked the website’s name and designed the user interface.

The duo have received attention for FutureMe from NPR, Oprah and The Today Show.  Their website has hosted nearly 1.5 million emails since it was launched almost a decade ago.

[ [ LISTEN TO NPR WEEKEND EDITION SATURDAY INTERVIEW WITH MATT AND JAY ] ]

FutureMe, which costs nothing to join or use, is really more of a hobby for Patrikios and Sly. They have day jobs on opposite coasts; Patrikios lives in Seattle, WA and works for Amazon, while Sly is based in the Boston area where he works for Microsoft.

Frank Ahrens, a technology commentator for the Washington Post, said in 2006 that “The early advocates of the Web predicted it would create a global community. They said it would cause an unslakable thirst for knowledge about others.” But, as it turns out, “it’s just about me, me, me.”

His article about FutureMe, published as part of the “Web Watch” series, equates the concept to that of a digital time capsule, but takes aim at Sly and Patrikios for enabling the narcissism and gossip fishing that goes on in today’s social networking.

“We like the part where people make their letters public. It’s no longer sufficient, apparently, to have an inner dialogue,” Ahrens says. “The messages come in a number of languages, and range from genuine witticisms to treacly self-affirmations to heartbreaking confessions. My favorites contemplate the space-time continuum.”

Not everyone must feel the way Ahrens does, as the FutureMe team was honored with the opportunity to turn the more poignant and curious public postings into a book. In 2007 F&W Media released Dear Future Me: Hopes, Fears, Secrets, Resolutions. Later, the publication received an average of 4 stars from Amazon users who purchased the 256 page text.

The FutureMe website is simple to use and simple to read. Links around the page are clearly marked and the letters viewable to the public are organized into seven categories.

The entries range from hilarious to heartbreaking, encouraging to commemorative.

One letter that stands out on the “Our Favorites” section reads; Dear FutureYou, It’s John. Hi… You’re gay, at least you are now. Have you changed? I hope you have. (Written April 20, 2006 – delivered April 20, 2007.)

A striking note that was “Recently Delivered” says “Stop what you’re doing! Are you proud of yourself? If not, why are you doing it?”

A message that is particularly pertinent to the students mentioned at the beginning of this article, was written in 2005 and delivered in 2008. The author, who is not named, is checking in with himself after having completed his doctoral degree which appears to have been “a (quarter million dollar and 14+ year) waste of time.” This person begs of himself, “All in all, I would rather have been enjoying my life instead of living in dread and insecurity all those years. I am writing this to you, future me, so that you can review the situation. The simple things are what bring me the most enjoyment. Look around. What surrounds you now? What have you chosen?”

_____________________________________________________

A think-tank of pending UAlbany grads came together via Facebook forum to discuss their past dreams, current goals and future aspirations.

1. What was your major? Is the career you’re working toward similar or different from what you wanted to “be” when we were kids?

2. Are you going to grad school or do you have a job lined up? Or are you totally winging it?!

3. Five years ago, we were 16 or 17. Five years from now, we’ll be 36 or 27. What advice would you give your past ad/or future self?

4. Is there anything on your ‘bucket list’ that you want to do before you’re 30?

5. What are a few things you absolutely want to accomplish in life?

Auckland-to-Albany transplant Suzy Clephane, 22, recalls a desire to own a pet shop when she was a child. She will graduate next weekend with a liberal arts degree ¾ her focus in journalism and communications. Clephane, a talented athlete, says she wants to play [field] hockey until she is 50 and eventually hike the Abel Tasman ¾ a 225km national reserve on the coast of New Zealand’s South Island. She intends to pursue a graduate degree in the next year, as well as sky dive and write a book eventually. Clephane notes that she would remind herself, in any age or state, to “just go with the flow!”

Melvin Philip, 21, grew up in Yonkers and intended to go into computer engineering. Now, he is fully devoted to evolutionary psychology studies and has a summer-long assistantship at the Wagner Lab. Philip hopes to attend SUNY New Paltz for grad school, have a PhD by the time he is 30 and nationally publish a study sometime in his career. Philip says he would remind his past and future selves to “keep improving myself” and “stay passionate.”

Amy June Skeldon, 22, has known her whole life that medicine was her calling. Shifting gears after her junior year, Skeldon changed her career trajectory from trauma surgeon to physician’s assistant ¾ and will be taking a year off to complete C.N.A. certification before applying to a P.A. program.

She wants to travel to the United Kingdom and maintain a youthful sense of adventure by going white water rafting sometime soon. Looking back, Skeldon wants to keep hold of a few things; “Do what you want to do,” “Never let a man or anyone control or consume your life,” and “Be wary of who you get close to and become friends with, there will be many people who come and go through your life.”

Francesca Aliberti, 21, also from Yokners, entered SUNY Albany four years ago hoping to complete her degree in human biology and become an orthopedist ¾ specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis. Changing tracks slightly, Aliberti will attend the New York Chiropractic School in Seneca Falls next fall.

In addition to traveling (Europe, South America, India and Oceania are just a few of her ideal destinations), Aliberti wants to “have a successful career, build a beautiful family and give back as much as I can to people.” She wants to congratulate her former self, “’cuz [sic] everything is working out,” and tell her future self “not to worry” too much.

Meaghan Lamica, 21, will be returning to her small hometown upstate after next weekend’s commencement ceremony. “I’m totally winging it!” she says. “I would like to take grad classes eventually, but not right away.”

Lamica wants to be married by the time she is 30, and frequently reminds herself that “You can never get this time back so it is important to enjoy every moment.”

_____________________________________________________

Related sites:
FutureMe
PostSecret
Found Magazine
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One response

28 11 2014
generateur fut 15

I was recommended this website by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this post is written by him
as no one else know such detailed about my difficulty. You are amazing!

Thanks!

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