It’s a scenario that has been played out in numerous science fiction novels, TV series and movies – the man from the past who arrives in a future world where technology has moved on so far that it is terrifyingly incomprehensible to him. This time, however, it’s a true story.
Randall Lee Church had been in prison for 28 years since 1983. Warned by fellow inmates that the world he would be emerging into was one that was very different to the world he left behind, he initially didn’t believe them, thinking they were just jealous of his impending release. Upon his release, however, he soon discovered just how right they were – and how ill-prepared he was for the world that awaited him. “I didn’t know how to use computers or cell phones or the internet,” Church told the Houston Chronicle. “It was so overwhelming. I was constantly embarrassed by simple things I didn’t know.”
“Prices were higher and scanned with bar codes,” the Chronicle notes. “Video games were more realistic. People were always on their cell phones. Cars had childproof locks.”
In the end, Church, who had been sent to prison when he was just 18 years old, decided that this world of the future that the great majority of us now take for granted was just too much for him to handle, and proceeded to deliberately burn down an abandoned house so that he could be sent back to the comforting home of his jail cell.