Love, Love, may you be filled with Love

I’m not going to try and define love in this post.  That is a fool’s errand.  It’s all I can do to keep myself from cramming it full of more song title references than is reasonable.  But love is definitely on the minds of our players in Face the Future.

There is the perennial teen concern: unrequited love.  What happens when you love someone and they’re uninterested?  Could the feeling of your love ever change their mind?

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Of course, there was also some concern over the privacy and rights of expressing oneself to a crush, that prompted some really interesting discussion of permissions for sending and receiving feels.

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Could the feeling of love make you brave and ready to love again after a long time of hurting? Sock Monkey muses that this could indeed happen over FeelThat.

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There is also a Buddhist theme of love and compassion running through a number of cards (See #compassion).  Loving kindness as a practice that in the future could be more than just contemplative. You could overwrite your emotions towards difficult people with love.

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 7.39.38 PMOn the other hand this robust cluster from Player Catherine Miranda Zue started a fascinating discussion of moderating really intense emotions so they could be “safe” for others.  A few people mentioned love in passing in this cluster, but it got me thinking. If iconic teen lovers Romeo and Juliet could have taken it down a notch, might it have saved their lives?

Early on in the game there was some concern that some emotions on the FeelThat network could be too explicit. They might compromise the “innocence” of young users.  My IFTF colleague Lyn Jeffery did a nice roundup of these concerns.

But these cards also reminded me of a vlog from John Green, Fault in Our Stars author who has faced censorship from school districts over that book and his debut novel, Looking for Alaska.

“I Am Not a Pornographer” is a beautiful and entertaining rant, but the takeaway is that love and intimacy and sex are all very different things.  Especially when we’re young and exploring our sexuality, comfort with boundaries, and emotional compatibility, love/intimacy/sex are not only different and often excruciatingly awkward.  Emotional intimacy is the least awkward (specifically in Looking for Alaska), because it is the most elastic towhat the people involved are actually comfortable with.  While we as a society may rightly judge some too young for sex, who are we to interfere with “pure” emotional intimacy among the teenagers of 2026?

If you were in love and had the FeelThat network, what would you want to share with your beloved?

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Art, Museums, and Sharing Feelings in Public

Much of our conversation about the FeelThat network has focused on private experiences: sitting around feeling this and that with your friends, being alone but connected to another, or private moments shared with students/soldiers/refugees on the other side of the world.

But how FeelThat figures into public experiences is a whole other question.  Player Olivia Martin tapped into this possibility and set off a flurry of builds:

Bubble graph representing conversation sparked by player Olivia Martin's positive imagination card "Art is certainly an emotional experience. What if at art museums you could tap in to how others felt while viewing the exhibits? #hiesglobal"

How true! Art is an emotional experience, and museums are a place to have these emotional experiences is a public (but safe) place.  Have you ever cried in a museum? I know I have.  And not just at the Holocaust Museum, either.  I went to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam a few years back. Even though Wheatfield with Crows (1890) was never my favorite painting visually, standing before it I felt the pain he was in those last few months before he committed suicide.  It was stunning! A small group of us stood before it and wept.

Wheatfield with Crows at Van Gogh Museum

How much more profound would it have been, not just for that painting but for all of his others, to feel echoes of others’ reactions while viewing Vincent’s art?

TonyG and Mr Mike Johnson leapt to the same conclusion, and took it a step further.Two "predict" cards. First card by player Tony G: "A whole new kind of art - seeing something and then feeling what others have felt seeing it before. #3107empathy" Second card by player Mr. Mike Johnson "Or even know what the artist what feeling while creating it!"

In an even more modern vein, I’ve long struggled to experience and then explain why Modern Art buffs love Rothko and Pollack. While their styles could not possibly be more different, they are often hung facing each other.  Curators have explained to me why: they both capture emotional states.  That’s the heart of Abstract Expressionism: capturing a feeling with pure technique.  Rothko does it with color.  Pollack with motion.

Player Kelly V. took this to a beautifully futuristic extreme: what if the artists of 2026 were sculptors in pure emotion, and how that intersected with visual focus and even movement!

Positive imagination card by player Kelly V.: "Artists would "paint" and "sculpt" with emotion, changing how you feel as you look at diff parts of an image or move through space."

What an absolutely beautiful card.  Well played!  Face the Future community: where else do you think feeling in public together could help us shape the future? What dangers might it present?

Explore Your Emotional Vocabulary: A message from the Poet Laureate of 2026

For centuries our best minds have wondered: how many emotions are there?

Charles Darwin wrote a whole book on it. In English alone, there are over four thousand words to describe feelings. Yet psychologist Paul Eckman in the 1990s boiled it down to six emotions. Scientists analyzing facial muscles say there are only four emotions. Technologists in 2016 using “sentiment analysis” (reading moods from primitive text and image social media) tracked only two: positive and negative.

But each of us is different, and each emotion we feel happens at a unique moment in our lives. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera noted back in 2015 that “love is a complete evolution. It changes, it changes and it changes.”

The FeelThat network added a new layer to my poetry. Expressing perfectly a moment of feeling is what poets do best, and FeelThat just adds to that perfection by sharing not just one moment but many. As Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan sang, “the times, they are a-changing.”

So youth of 2026: share with me your specific hopes and anxieties, about all of your feelings. Let’s go beyond happiness and sadness, to the feelings that are yours alone. I’m tuned in.

Players! Heed the poet Laureate of 2026. How do you think we might speak differently about emotions, well beyond the “basics,” with the FeelThat network in play?

As of this moment, there are 126 cards in play with the word “happy.” There are only 12 with the word “comforted,” and 0 with the worlds “bemused” “alarmed” or “exhilarated.” We can do better! Use your whole emotional vocabulary to imagine 2026.

Player WaydeG got me thinking about this with the profound card:

Positive imagination card: Our capacity to feel could enhance our vocabulary, making us search for better, more profound words to express our connections. #vocabulary

Meanwhile Player PickledCucumber mused on Jane McGonigal’s card positing FeelThat replacing facial expressions.

Investigate card in response to "This is a weird idea: Would we stop expressing ourselves through facial expressions as much since we can rely on tech to share our feeling?". The card reads "Since facial expressions are our current "universal language", would FeelThat become our new language?"

But what if FeelThat tracks were more like adding music to words? What if you could add feelings ON TOP of music, words, and visuals? This is the future of literature. Go make it!