A Fearless Forecast for 2022

It looks like 2022 will be a long year. So rather than making you wait the entire 12 months, we’ll tell you what’s going to happen now — in our Fearless Forecast for 2022. To learn how smart we were one year ago in predicting 2021, click here.

  1. The public will see through Meta. Facebook hasn’t been on Santa’s “nice” list of late. In 2017, Facebook was the second most trusted social media platform behind LinkedIn. The same list in 2020 placed Facebook ninth, below every other platform examined. Enter Meta. Mark Zuckerberg believes he can steer his empire back into our good graces simply by giving it a new name. But people are smart enough to see that it’s the same pig, even behind the lipstick. In fact, the blatant cynicism behind this empty marketing ploy could lead the public to trust Facebook even less.
  2. 2022 will be the year of the labor union. In 2021, workers across the country found they had far more say over their futures than their employers did. With more job openings than people available to fill them, those who felt underpaid, overworked or disrespected went on to greener pastures — or they organized. Nurses in Massachusetts imposed the longest nurses strike in state history. There were so many walkouts across the country this fall that observers coined the term “Striketober.” Meanwhile, the first U.S. Starbucks store unionized while the nearly union-free tech sector saw workers organize at Alphabet and Medium, with others now on the cusp. Gallup says Americans’ approval of unions is the highest it’s been since 1965, at 68%. We predict that workers’ new sense of power, plus more media attention to organizing efforts, will lead to a dramatic increase in unionization votes next year.
  3. The number of nonprofit news organizations will increase by 25%. Local newspapers are dying out in droves, creating “news deserts” across the country. To counter this, some smart people have been creating nonprofit news organizations to ensure people like you and us know the most important things going on in their communities. The Institute for Nonprofit News reports that membership rose by more than 25% in 2020. We think this is a trend that will continue in 2022.
  4. Scientists will prove the viability of nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission explodes bombs. Nuclear fusion creates clean energy and could be the answer to all our power needs. Until now, it has taken more energy to create a fusion reaction than the energy it produces. But after nearly 60 years of work, scientists in 2021 got way closer to making efficient fusion energy a reality, and investors are pouring money into the research. We predict that in 2022 physicists will for the first time find a way to get more energy out of fusion than they put in.
  5. Your Pumpkin Spice Latte will have a price in cryptocurrency. For many of us, our knowledge of cryptocurrencies began with the Bitcoin boom in late 2017 as many millennials and Gen Zers began “investing” with seemingly guaranteed returns that funded big screen TVs and other luxury items. The rest of us thought of cryptocurrencies as nebulous and risky. But now, cryptocurrencies are being used to buy everything from multimillion-dollar works of digital art to a penthouse condo in Miami. The next step is acceptance for everyday purchases at retailers such as Starbucks, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond. In 2022, we’ll see crypto prices show up at our favorite retailers, meaning many of us will finally add that digital wallet to our phones.
  6. Movie theaters will close, even as the pandemic recedes. One of the casualties of COVID-19 will be the in-person movie experience. After almost two years of watching movies — including brand-new movies — from our couches, it’s going to be hard to get us back into the theater, even when we don’t have health concerns. Hollywood has itself to blame for making many of its premier pictures immediately available through streaming services. To wit: Jane Campion will probably win an Oscar for The Power of the Dog — and you never had a chance to see it in the theater. It went straight to Netflix.
  7. Fans will be the losers of the MLB labor dispute. The Major League Baseball lockout will not delay Opening Day, but it will result in a labor agreement that will make the game a little less fun for those of us who enjoy watching it. For example, a universal DH rule will rob us of the pleasure of watching pitchers bat in National League parks. And, allowing players to reach free agency earlier will break up young teams sooner than before. Most importantly, the competitive balance that was achieved under previous labor agreements will be undermined, making it more difficult for midmarket teams like the Reds and Indians to make the playoffs while the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox can punch their tickets to October every April.