My story shall take place on Earth with the human race as the dominant species. I imagine the technological and scientific progress to be 10 to 20 years in the future from now (our current real life state) but basically I want to build a world environment which is pretty much like ours.
However, I am struggling with the question whether or not I should use our real world cities and countries (e.g., US, UK, Russia, China, etc.) and their political situations, historical backgrounds and cultures.
Doing that would require me to stick to real historical facts which i want to avoid. I am aware that i need to develop my own politics, history and culture for the countries but i want to take our world just as an inspiration and create something new from it.
But now I can't think of a good way to convey that "alternative reality of humankind" to the readers without confusing them. For example, I feel like when writing about inventions, that happened in the near past, I shouldn't let these inventions happen in a totally different world with different city and country names.
Very basic example:
Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and was a US citizen. (true or not doesn't matter)
For me, it feels odd if I would say:
Keith Coleman, the inventor of the light bulb, was a citizen of the united nations of Quimbleton (names I just came up with)
In my opinion, this would confuse the reader.
I know that other writers have built these human worlds without referring to our 'real' Earth directly (especially in fantasy, e.g., Tolkien's Lord of the Rings). But I can only think of examples where the 'potential time gap' between our time and the time in the book is very large. For example, Lord of the Rings plays in medieval times.
Another thing is that I cannot limit the geographical area of the story (like Tolkien with Middle earth) because I will definitely address space travel at some point, which requires even more than a planet-sized area.
To bring it to a point, I want the technological progress, the state of science, the environment, and probably the cultural habits to be pretty much like ours nowadays. But I want to use different names for cities, countries, persons, etc., so that there is no real world connection via names.
My question is: What is a good way to convey the following to the reader:
"Yes this is Earth, this is pretty much your time and there are a lot things you already know about. But no, you don't know any of the countries, cities or persons and you know nothing about their politics, history and culture. I will explain this to you part by part."
Edit: I noticed that people are getting me wrong and think that i don't want to do any research on history and cultures in our real world, trying to go for a simple way. It's really just that i don't want to necessarily stick to our real world political systems and historical events. My world building would of course be highly affected by our real world events and systems but i just want the freedom to create something new from it. I am not trying to go the "easy" way.