Worries About My Friends and Our Near Term Future

I worry sometimes.  Namely I worry about my friends and people younger than I am in general.  I worry about most of my friends struggling in life.  Most of my friends are buried in debts, mostly student loans, that they will be lucky if they ever pay off.  And most of my friends weren’t that dumb with their money or life decisions.  Most of my friends went to college because 1) we were told that was a path to a decent career and 2) we looked around and saw that there were no jobs that paid decently requiring only a high school degree.  Long gone are the days when someone could get a job as a factory hand or farm worker in their early twenties and hold onto that job for over forty years and retire with a paid off home, pension, and health insurance.

I’m seeing my friends struggle in their day to day lives.  Most are working a full time job and a part time job or a side gig.  Almost none of them own houses.  The only one of my close friends who owns a house is a high school teacher in a small town.  And he didn’t buy his house until he was in his late 30s.  They don’t own houses simply because they can’t afford a house and student debts.  I also have friends who have had medical emergencies.  One friend had to file for bankruptcy for medical bills.  One friend is fighting cancer, divorced, lost her children, and is still on the waiting list for disability.  Another friend of mine got a master’s degree only to find the best job she could get in a mid sized city doesn’t pay even 40 grand a year.  Her husband also works a low paying job and moonlights as an Uber driver.  He too has lots of student debt.

Now I know some unsympathetic people will be thinking, “well, that’s what they get for not majoring in STEM or going to the military.”  Well, one of my brother’s best friends pulled straight 4.0 all the way through high school and college and still got rejected for a state medical school at least three times before he was accepted.  As far as I know, he now has a decent career working in a medical lab.  Another of my brother’s friends didn’t finish medical school and residencies until he was in his thirties because of finances and run around from the schools.  Now he works as an emergency search and rescue doctor.  One of my cousins went to trade school for two years to become an electrician.  He worked for a couple railroads, got married, has four kids, and owns a small acreage in rural Nebraska.  But, he is now essentially self employed due to the inconsistent nature of railroad employment and his wife has had medical problems to where I think she had to give up her job as a nurse’s aide.  Another cousin works in web development.  Even though he has had to work for several different firms and sometimes take free lance work, he is doing alright because he has skills that are in demand.  At least for the time being.

Can we really expect most people to become doctors, nurses, webpage designers, computer coders, engineers, tradesmen, etc?  Yet that is all I hear out of “experts” and “business leaders.”  While I think it admirable that people like Mike Rowe want to encourage more people to consider the trades like plumbing, electrician, welding, carpentry, etc, I fear that too much emphasis on the trades will eventually lead the same problem that people who majored in business, law, humanities, liberal arts, etc. are facing now.  Twenty years ago, we were told to go to college and get a degree.  Many of us did only to find that every kid in the developed world was given that advice.  Now the degree doesn’t go nearly as far as it did even forty years ago, primarily because of so many people having degrees.  Then the kids were told “get a masters” or “do unpaid internships”.  Many did only to find that they had six figures in student loans to qualify for jobs that will never pay enough to pay off the loans, let alone pay off a house or even start a family in some cases.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if young people or my friends are angry about this setup.  Because while some jobs have been outsourced to cheaper places, many more were taken over by automation.  I have a friend who works in a call center for a bank.  I fear it’s only a matter of time before his job gets automated.  And, of course, no one in power cares about the twenty and thirty somethings struggling.  They didn’t even care about the  forty something auto or steel workers who lost their jobs to machines and outsourcing.

And it’s no longer just the US or Europe that is outsourcing and automating jobs.  Even China is automating and outsourcing.  Just a few weeks ago I bought some shirts online that were made in a small African country I had to look up on a map.  The US and Europe are just further along in this transition to a highly automated economy.

And of course, the US doesn’t have very good social safety nets or any empathy for those who lost their jobs or are struggling to make ends meet.  My elders like to brag about how well America is doing, how well we take care of our own, and how we are a great Christian nation.  If we cared about our own, than we wouldn’t be having an opioid crisis, mass shootings every day, increasing rates of mental illness, increased suicide rates (especially among middle aged men), and protests in every major city on a daily basis.  For our boasting about being such a Christian nation, we certainly don’t care about those who are misfortunate and had a rough go. Such hypocrisy.

I have no idea how many times I was told “get a job you bum”, “man up”, or “McDonalds and Wal Mart are hiring”.  I, and millions of people in my age bracket and lower did everything we were told.  We still struggle.  And we don’t have any empathy from anyone, not our rulers, not our businesses, not our parents, not our schools, not our churches, and not even from each other.

Unionizing is not an option like it was a hundred years ago because most jobs can or will be outsourced or taken over by machines.  Sure we are on the road to an automated economy where most of the grunt work is done by machines and computers.  But, what is the point if 1) we don’t ditch this idea that everyone has to be defined by what they do for money, 2) most people can’t afford anything beyond the basics because most jobs are done by machines, 3) we have few social safety nets to make up for the fact that most people aren’t able to work in fields that can’t be easily automated.

We may need some things like universal health care, universal basic income, free continuing education, complete overhauls of tax systems, and a general overall shift in public attitudes towards work and compassion for others.  But I don’t see this happening anytime soon, at least not in the US.  I don’t think it will happen in the US in my lifetime simply because most of my countrymen don’t have empathy. Our leaders certainly don’t.

I do believe if our species can survive this transition, which is probably the greatest transition since people settled down and started farming instead of hunting, fishing, and gathering thousands of years ago, our descendants can have a really cool future where creativity and science can bloom.  But, I fear the transition will be a lot tougher than it has to be simply because of many people’s attitudes towards work and their fellow man.  I fear we will lose a few generations and much of their gifts in this transition.  But I guess we as a species lost short term to ultimately be better off when the Industrial Revolution began back in the late 1700s.  I do have great hope for the long term outlook for civilization and our species, but I fear it will be brutal getting there.  And the fact that I won’t live long enough to see the fruits of the seeds being planted today fills me with great sadness.

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Fear of People and Socializing

Staying home for the most part these days.  I have developed a phobia of people and being out in public.  A few weeks ago I was going to run some errands in my car.  Unfortunately I had a panic attack in my car before I left the parking lot of my apartment.  I haven’t driven since.  I go out to run my car once a week but I am too scared to drive anymore.  I am also scared of people in general too.

I think this phobia developed over the last several months because almost everyone I was dealing with was in irritable and foul moods all the time.  And any time I tried to tell some good news or try to cheer anyone up, I am usually met with silence.  Even my friends are almost always in foul moods anymore.  I try to cheer them up, but it doesn’t work.  About the only person I talk to anymore who isn’t always depressed or angry is my mother.

I don’t associate with my neighbors anymore.  They are always angry, irritable, and petty. My landlord wants to get some activities going to get people more involved and perhaps alleviate some of the anger and boredom.  Good luck.  I won’t be participating.  I am burned out on people.

Trying to talk to friends doesn’t help.  They too are always angry and depressed.  Recently the most optimistic friend I had has turned into a bitter man.  He always complains about how stupid his students are and how things were so much better in the past.  And it irritates me.  I guess I’m still hurt and angry by how much my elders griped and moaned about my classmates and myself when we were kids back in the 1980s and 1990s.  And it angers and saddens me to see how much people in my age bracket are turning on their own kids.  We were those “damn kids” back in the 1990s and we hated being painted with a broad brush and stereotypes back then. Yet here you are, now that you have kids of your own, a few gray hairs, debts up to your eyeballs, jobs you hate, etc. and you have the gall to pull the same b.s. on the younger generations that was pulled on us?  Hypocrites!  Why do people even have kids if all they are going to do is rip on them and hate them?

It because of people always wanting to gripe and fight that I have dropped out of society. I rarely talk to even my tech enthusiast groups.  They have gotten to fighting among themselves too.  I swear we have, at least my age bracket, forgotten the basic rules of civil behavior that should have become automatic in kindergarten.  And the elders I deal with are often worse.  I hate what has happen to people.  I hope they grow out of it.

I guess it’s a good thing I had to learn how to be on my own even as a child.  I learned even before I got out of grade school that no one was going to care about my problems or me for that matter.  No one shed any tears when I got bullied at school.  No one cared I was regarded as an underachiever because I never got straight A’s in school.  It doesn’t matter that no employer or even college asked to see my high school grades.   And no one cared when I lost any shot at a career, marriage, or normal life because of schizophrenia.

Not even the doctor who diagnosed me told me how bad this could be.  When I was first diagnosed at age twenty I wasn’t even told it was a disability.  I spent six years banging my head against the wall fighting through school and numerous failed jobs before admitting defeat.  And even then it took two years to qualify for disability.  As many cuts to the system and roadblocks as there are anymore, I don’t think I could qualify now in 2019.  I lost a significant amount of social security money because, had I applied before my 22nd birthday, I could have been counted under my parents’ earnings and not my own.  And my dad was a dentist and my mom was a nurse, so I would have been making much more than I am now.  In this case, it didn’t pay to try to do the moral and honorable thing.  I should have quit college and applied for disability as soon as I was diagnosed.  It would have saved me years of heartache and struggle.  If it weren’t for the friends I made in college, it would have been a waste (at least in my case).  But since I didn’t have many friends growing up in the village that I did, maybe college kept me from becoming a complete misanthrope.

It hurts seeing so many people angry and irritable and depressed all the time.  It has taken a toll on both my mental and physical health.  I don’t want to leave my apartment anymore, not even for doctors’ appointments.  My psych doctor knows about my problems but doesn’t want to do teleconferences for my appointments.  I just don’t feel safe out of my apartment anymore.  Anytime anyone comes to me to talk about anything it’s just to complain, with the exception of delivery guys and my cleaning lady.  Kind of sad that the only enriching and encouraging conversation I get anymore is from people that I pay to do something for me.  Maybe I should PayPal all my friends money once a week to make them be optimistic and encouraging.  Because of people always being so irritable and negative, I skipped my class reunion and family reunion.  I am just too burned out to deal with anyone’s problems but my own.  I am burned out.  I no longer want to deal with negativity.  My own problems are bad enough.  And I will continue to be a hermit until I get some positive vibes off my family and friends again.  Until then, I’m dropping out of society.

Rant on “Quit Whining and Man Up” and observations about socializing

Been kind of depressed and irritable for the last several days.  Haven’t been sleeping well either.  About the only thing going really well for me is my renewed diet.  I am eating less than I normally do and getting more activity.  I get my activity in the afternoons even though I’m in the habit of sleeping until noon again.

I also no longer want to socialize.  And this time I don’t feel guilty for it.  I am tired of people who are in foul and angry moods trying to drag me down into their own mindlessness and petty vendettas.  Unfortunately, anymore, if it weren’t for negativity and fighting, there would be few conversations and certainly no social media.  I hate how I just can’t have a civilized conversation with even people I partly agree with anymore.  And good luck trying to talk to anyone who doesn’t view the world the same way you do.  I’m beginning to think that many people have mental health problems just because of the way we treat each other and the stress of modern living.  Granted, a person doesn’t have to be chronic like those of us on disability to have problems.  I have had a mental illness for almost twenty years now.  And only recently are people starting to talk about the effects of stress, anxiety, and chronic mental illnesses.  For the first several years of my diagnosis I didn’t talk about my mental health to anybody.  And I think I lost several good friendships because my friends didn’t understand that my depression and anger were nothing personal, they were manifestations of the sickness.

For the first several years of my illness I just didn’t talk about it, not even to friends or employers.  Back in those days mental illness was shrouded in more mystery and ridicule than even now.  I have no idea how many times I was told to ‘suck it up’ or ‘man up’ in those early years.  ‘Man up’. Now there is a stupid phrase I can’t figure out.  What does it even mean?  Is there really only one type of manliness?  And why is it the only type of virtues in a man we appreciate are those that involve the John Wayne frontier mentality that violence is the only way to solve all problems?  I think this is stupid, very stupid.  A mentality like that will make our species extinct.  And quite honestly, I enjoy living too much to sit idle while this type of barbarian behavior is honored and encouraged.  I would rather not go back to the Stone Age.  I hated all the ‘Mad Max’ movies and I definately don’t want to experience them in real life.

Another thing, we don’t females to ‘woman up’ and we don’t tell senior citizens to ‘young down’ nor do we tell terminally ill people to ‘hurry up and die.’  It’s little things that normal people just take for granted that I don’t understand and that I often see the dumbness and hypocracy in.  But most people seem pretty cool with dumb things and hypocracy anyway, at least when it comes from sources they like.  Unfortunately I never understood this line of thinking.  It’s probably why I have problems socializing with the public at large.  And of course having a chronic mental illness that people are still ignorant about doesn’t help either.

In closing, as a thought experiment, I was wondering what would happen if someone (or a group of individuals) just went about their daily lives being as rude and condescending to physical people as we are to people in our online interactions.  I would love to see some psychiatrist conduct this experiment.  I think the results would be either very interesting or very disturbing.