Study Guide

The Future of Us

The Future of Us Introduction

Imagine a world where you aren't able to document your day-to-day life for everyone else to see, where you couldn't look up a stranger on Facebook and know everything about them, where your entire friend group couldn't find out what you're doing with a simple click of a mouse.

Hard to imagine? Well, it's actually not make-believe. It's the 1990s.

In The Future of Us, Emma and Josh are pretty much exactly like, well, us, except instead of being teens now, they're teens in 1996. Our hero and heroine find Facebook in some weird time warp CD-ROM that isn't ever totally explained, but instead of checking out what their friends are doing in 1996, they see their future selves—complete with spouses, kids, and highlighted hair. 

Just imagine how their worlds are rocked.

Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler teamed up to bring us The Future of Us in 2011, a futuristic-ish story of time travel, high school drama, friendship, and blossoming romance. Entertainment Weekly called the book a cross between Back to the Future and The Social Network, and we think they're onto something with that description. It's an interesting combination, right? No matter when you were born.

What is The Future of Us About and Why Should I Care?

In this day and age, social media rules. Whether we're instagramming our meals or vining our puppies falling asleep, there's very little we do and don’t share. And this is where The Future of Us comes in: It takes something we're very used to (specifically, Facebook) and puts it into a setting where it's basically the stuff of science fiction. Social media wasn't even invented in the 1990s, and although pretty much everything else about life was the same, the Internet was basically brand new.

And you know what? These teenagers in the 90s think it's really creepy that their future selves post information about bad hair days on the Internet—so much so, in fact, that Emma exclaims, "I'm going to be mentally ill in fifteen years" (5.31) upon seeing her first status update. Before the Internet was accessible, who would have thought that it was okay to word-vomit every little thing we do for the whole world to see? But this is kind of the point: The Future of Us makes us think about social media.

We'll leave you to decide whether life was better before or after we all got online. No matter what conclusions you come to, though, we're willing to bet that you pause before posting your next status update. After reading this book, it's pretty much impossible to stay on autopilot with social media. That is, until the next time you eat a meal… or stub your toe… or do your hair…

The Future of Us Resources

Websites

Meet an Author
Check out the website of one of our authors, Carolyn Mackler. Here you'll find information on some of her other work as well!

Meet Another Author
Check out Jay Asher's blog. He posts pretty often, so there's lots to dig into here.

The Facebook Page
Sure, lots of books have Facebook pages—but it's extra appropriate that The Future of Us does, don't you think?

Movie or TV Productions

Star Treatment
Teenage neighbors destined to be together, social media-based problems, and oodles of 90s references? Of course there's a movie about this book.

Articles and Interviews

It's Only Fitting
Mackler and Asher wrote The Future of Us together, so it's only right that they'd be interviewed about the book together, too. And guess what? Doing so was pretty much a dream come true for both of them.

"Caught in the Web"
Want to know what the New York Times thinks about The Future of Us? Look no further.

Who Cares What Adults Think?
This book is YA lit, and here's what one teen thinks of it.

Video

Asher and Mackler in Action
Get the authors' thoughts on their joint project, straight from their mouths to your ears.

Short Scene
Check out this little video featuring a scene from The Future of Us. It's done by a young filmmaker, and features a lot of plaid. Like, a lot.

Images

Cover Treatment Number One
So much code we can hardly see the kids.

Cover Treatment Number Two
Oh so very 90s…

Cover Treatment Number Three
Aw… we see a little electricity coming out of that heart.