The stories people save to Pocket reveal something unique—not only about what’s occupying our collective attention, but also about what we aspire to be. This year, our data showed a few key themes, as well as some hints at what stories might continue to hold our attention in the years ahead. To further explore and estimate which topics will remain top of mind, we asked Elamin Abdelmahmoud, the culture writer behind the prescient March 2022 feature What You’re Feeling Isn’t A Vibe Shift. It’s Permanent Change, to peek into his crystal ball and see which stories will remain on our minds. Here, Abdelmahmoud—also a podcast host and the author of Son of Elsewhere, one of The New York Times’ Notable Books of 2022—takes us through his predictions, from what’s next for COVID, climate change, and… Wife Guys. —Pocket team
The biggest shock of 2022 was how much happened this year—it’s easy to forget all of it. Way back in February, a study came out saying that the megadrought in America’s southwest was so severe it was the worst drought in 12 centuries—that’s back to the year 800. I read that and then completely moved on. Like, ok, that sounds fine, that seems like a regular problem, let’s move on. Do you remember that we are still existing in the same year Boris Johnson resigned and then a different Prime Minister took office and resigned? That was this year. I had to be reminded that the Queen died in 2022: that’s how much this year has drowned us in information and things to process.
A lot of these stories lived rent free in our heads this year—that’s a useful frame for making sense of the world now and looking at what will be foundational in what happens next. For this collection, I looked for clarifying stories, the ones that serve almost as a key code for understanding 2022 and therefore understanding what might come in 2023. Some of these are hyper local but easily universalizable—for instance, the heatwave-charged inequality in Toronto this year will sadly, surely repeat across the world. Meanwhile, some of the stories are fun, which I didn’t anticipate! I’m eager to see how the Wife Guy trope continues to rattle around. And then there’s the story about ambition by Amil Niazi. So many people changed their approach to accomplishment this year: will people have the same relationship with work in 2023? What will that look like?
It was fun curating this list for Pocket—an app I have used and loved for years—and I look forward to returning at the end of 2023 to see how right I was about these predictions. Then again, who knows what my relationship to work will be by then? —Elamin Abdelmahmoud