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Scott Baio and me

It’s the fall of 1984. I’m thirteen years old. It’s a Wednesday night, and I’m watching “Charles in Charge,” a sitcom starring Scott Baio –  the actor I’d previously seen on “Happy Days.”

It’s okay. Not great, but not bad, either.

Then boom! A flash of light! A roar of sound. A time traveler from the future – 2024, to be exact – appears in my living room.

After exchanging pleasantries, he says:

“Someday in the not too distant future – four decades from now – everyone will own a computer, and they will all be connected to something called the internet. The World Wide Web. You’ll actually own six or seven computers.”

“Really?” I ask. “Will I be rich?”

“No. It’s actually not too weird to own more than one computer in 2024. Seven is a lot, but I’m counting all of your devices, and your business requires them. Anyway… all human knowledge will be available at all times on these computers – some that fit in your pockets and have no buttons. This means that everyone on the planet will essentially be connected at all times, which means you will be connected to Scott Baio.”

“The guy on the TV?” I ask.

“Yes,” the time traveler says. “So you’ll be able to send him messages via a program called Twitter, though it will later be renamed X because the smart, strange, possibly evil man who bought Twitter loves the letter X so much that he attaches it to everything he owns, including one of his kids.

Except you won’t be able to send messages to Scott Baio via Twitter because Donald Trump was the President of the United States for four years.”

“Wait, what?” I ask.

“Yes, that Donald Trump,” the time traveler says. “And he was a monstrous idiot as President. Also as a human being.

But Scott Baio—that actor on your television—loves Donald Trump, so when you sent messages to Trump criticizing his policies, Scott Baio got mad and blocked you. He stopped you from being connected to him.”

“The guy on the TV – Charles in Charge – is going to block me?” I ask.

“Yes. Oh, Donald Trump will block you, too. He’s a fragile little snowflake of a man, so he will block you for criticizing him, but then you sue him, and the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court, where you win, so Donald Trump will be forced to unblock you.”

“I do all that?” I ask, suddenly impressed by my future self.

“Not on your own,” the time traveler says, “You join some other people in the lawsuit, so it’s not Matthew Dicks vs. Trump, but yes. You do that. Your life will always be a little nuts.”

“In a good way?” I ask.

“Only sometimes,” the time traveler says. “Sometimes it’s horrendous. But I digress. After Donald Trump blocks you, the US Capitol will be attacked by his followers after he loses the election, and he uses Twitter and other Twitter-like programs to incite the riot, so Twitter will ban Donald Trump.”

“And Donald Trump will go to jail?” I ask.

“No,” the time traveler says. “He might become President again.”


“Damn, good question. Anyway, I thought you should know that in about 40 years, you and that guy you’re watching on TV will have beef via a means of communication you can’t begin to imagine yet, and it will result in him blocking you from messaging him. Weird. Huh?”

Yes,” I say. “2024 sounds crazy!”

“Nah. 2020 and 2021… those were the crazy years.”