Take biology and psychology that developed over many thousands of years in the Stone Age, throw in Bronze Age spirituality and religions, mix in legal, finance, and government institutions developed in the Renaissance, toss in jobs, consumerism, work ethic, and education developed in the Industrial Revolution, add mass media and instant communications of the early 21st century, and possibly add machine automation that will make the work force far smaller and resources far easier to get as icing on the cake. Stand back and watch mayhem and chaos ensue or work toward bringing about the Star Trek future.
I haven’t posted regularly on my facebook or twitter accounts since September. I just got tired of all the fighting and negativity. But the thing that bothers me the most about social media is how much of what I try to communicate gets lost in just text. Most times I don’t wish to come across as snarky or combative, but that’s how so many people interpret what I write. Maybe facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. wouldn’t be so negative if people had to post video and audio rather than just text. Put a voice and face to the comments and let the world know they aren’t talking to a machine or subhuman entity.
I gave up on using social media for anything than shamelessly promoting my blog three months ago when I came to the painful conclusion that most people were never going to share my optimism or joyful outlook. And the weird thing is I am more optimistic than ever even though I almost never convince anyone of reasons to be optimistic. I am definitely not an optimist by nature or upbringing. I almost never heard anything positive about the world or the future from my parents, teachers, bosses, or elders while growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. For quite sometime I was wondering why if most people were so pessimist about the future, then why were they having kids. I could never figure those kinds of contradictions out. I know very few people even in December 2017 who don’t have kids because they are worried about the kind of future these kids would have. Most people that don’t have kids that I know can’t biologically have kids.
Like I said, I am not an optimist by nature. I had to make myself into one. And I did it with little help from mass media, popular culture, or my elders. Most of what I learned about what was going right in modern civilization I had to actively seek out through secondary sources and rigorous research. I learned more science, technology, psychology, history, philosophy, literature, and economics on my own with an internet connection and five years of daily youtube viewing than I ever thought possible after spending eighteen years in traditional education. Then again, it should be noted that is simply impossible for any kind of formal education system to teach everything a person needs to know for living just within the system itself. With life expectancies going into the eighties in some countries (and even the sixties in some of the poorer developing nations), it is simply impossible to be able to say “You know what you need to know for the next fifty to sixty years once you’re turned out into the world at age eighteen.” No, the best thing an education system can do in this day and age of long life span and ever changing tech and social norms is to foster the never stop learning attitudes and mentalities.
In the mid to late 2000s when I was struggling to adapt to my mental illness and working low wage remedial jobs I could have done as a high school dropout, I was quite angry about my time in formal education. For several years I was convinced that doing well in high school and college was wasted effort if all I was going to do with my life was push a mop in a courthouse or sell carpet for a billion dollar company. After a few more years of maturity and seasoning, I found out to my pleasant surprise that my years of working hard in school and loving learning weren’t misspent. The biggest thing my years in formal education did was awaken in me a love for learning and a desire to continue doing so.
Sadly, many people don’t have a love for learning. Tragically most of those people are going to get left behind in the waves of science, technology, geopolitical, and social changes that have only recently begun to gain momentum. The old ideas of graduating high school at age eighteen, getting a union membership, getting a job in a factory, getting married at age twenty two to someone from your hometown or college, etc. aren’t feasible anymore. And sadly, many people can’t or won’t adapt. But we’ve had changes in the past eras. I imagine many people didn’t adapt during the Renaissance or Industrial revolutions and got painfully displaced. Same things are happening now as we move to a more connected, digitalized, fast paced, and informed world. National borders don’t mean as much now as they did even when I was a child back in the 1980s.
Sure it’s a chaotic time for many people, especially for people and institutions that aren’t adapting to the new realities. Politicians in my home nation are talking about building walls to keep out illegal immigrants and refugees and bringing back traditional manufacturing jobs to this country. To which I reply “planes can fly over walls” and “3D printing”. Sadly, many people want to deny such changes are already here and will resist to the point of being left so far behind they’ll never catch up. I see it every day just in my own community and circles of friends and family. I decided that I was going to adapt and welcome the changes regardless of what my friends, family, and neighbors were going to do. Some cool things are happening and I don’t want to get left behind or wallow in fear and anxiety for the rest of my life. I deal with fear and anxiety enough in my own mental illness. I won’t allow external forces to add to these.