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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Trying to Maintain Hope Around Negative People

 

I just don’t talk to anyone much anymore.  But then it seems like people have been avoiding me too lately.  I hope this is just my paranoia creeping in.  But it does seem like almost no one has time or energy to just chat lately.  I fear that I’m becoming this way too.  I try to stay optimistic overall but it is tough.  First, I’m not an optimist by nature as I wasn’t raised to be one.  I was almost never told anything positive about the world or life in general from my elders as a kid.  Made me wonder why anyone had kids if the world was falling apart as much as my parents, teachers, and church elders told me it was.  But that was before I got out on my own and came to the realization that most people are more ruled by short term emotion than by long term logic.  As someone who is part artist and part science enthusiast, I find my emotion and logical sides at conflict quite often.  I have spent the better part of the last five years training up the logical part of my mind.  It isn’t easy and it’s often frustrating.  Bill Gates once stated that people tend to overestimate change in the short term but underestimate it in the long term.  Getting to see what cool stuff happens next is one of the things that keeps me going.  It’s the scientist, the engineer, the doctor, the humanitarian that gives me as much hope as most of my friends get out of their political parties.  I try to explain to my friends that politicians can pass budgets, pass favorable laws, and then get out of the way.  That’s about all they can do.  I have never seen a politician build a power plant or figure out how to grow more crops with fewer chemicals.  Many problems of modern civilization are science and engineering issues, not political or even social ones.

I just as well be speaking ancient Sanskrit to my friends in that they’re not coming around and probably never will.  I would love to live in a world where the scientists and doctors were as well known and respected as pro athletes and big shot Hollywood stars.  But I suppose that’s a pipe dream that won’t come true in my lifetime, if ever.  As it is I am a mentally ill unemployed man trying to make sense of the madness in the people around me.  At this point I’m glad I don’t have a regular job in that it would probably drive me to complete break down.  I’m glad for the safety nets I have.  It saddens and sickens me that there are people who want to remove even these.  We live in a post industrial civilization where we can feed everyone, not some Stone Age Darwinian survival of the fittest setup our ancestors already overcame.  Yet, it seems like some people are bent on bringing back the Stone Age.  I hope it’s just my paranoia creeping in but it does seem like there’s too many people losing hope and giving up right before things get real interesting.  As far as any politicians of any country go, they are merely “momentary masters of a fraction of a dot” to quote Carl Sagan.  We would be wise to regain such perspective in our own lives.

Burned Out on Stupid and Rude People

Haven’t written much because I really haven’t been up to it the last few days.  Between seeing the family, my having major maintenance being done on my apartment, dealing with the hot weather, and now entering my traditionally tough time of year, I haven’t been motivated to do much of anything.  I’m burned out already and summer has barely started.  I’ve been having maintenance come and go out of my apartment for the last few weeks.  And to tell you the truth, it’s thrown a monkey wrench in my routines.  I’ll be so, so glad once everything is taken care of and I don’t have maintenance and management dropping in on my place at a moment’s notice.  I have to be out of my apartment all day Monday.  Still have no idea what I’m doing for the whole day.  I really don’t want to go to my parents’ place.  I don’t want to hang out in the part as it’s supposed to be yet another hot day.  I really don’t have any close friends in my complex that I could just spend the day at.  All my old friends in my hometown have moved out of state a long time ago.  I really have no clue as to what I’m doing all day out of my apartment.

Since I’ve developed a fear of leaving my apartment, this is probably going to be tougher than it would normally be.  I’m burned out.  I’m tired of always having to jump to other’s schedules at a second’s notice.  That’s why I don’t go anywhere for any length of time anymore.  If I do I’ll miss some request from family, friends, management, maintenance, etc and then I’m in trouble with said people.  I’m paranoid enough as is.  I just want to be left alone.

Of course no one wants to hear my problems.  My parents were busy with their grandkids the last entire week.  I had to fake like I was in a good mood for my birthday bash.  My friends won’t return my calls or messages on facebook.  I don’t know what is wrong with everyone all at once.  And I’m tired of trying to figure people out.  After months of dealing with nonsense from pretty much everyone in my life, I’m about to crack.  Too bad I couldn’t just break down and sob to express my real emotions.  I think I’ve cried only twice in the last twenty years.  I didn’t cry at any of the funerals I’ve ever been to.  But, then, it’s not manly to have emotions besides anger and lust.

In short, I just want to be left alone for a very long time.  I’m tired of dealing with stupid and rude people I can’t please.  I don’t need therapy.  I don’t need company.  I don’t need a medication adjustment.  I just need people to leave me alone if they are going to be stupid and rude.

Paranoia Returning

I haven’t been doing as well the last few days as I have been in previous months.  I’m feeling excessively paranoid and just wanting to be alone all the time anymore.  I don’t even enjoy talking on the phone.  Other than a couple friends and a couple futurist groups, I have given up on socializing on facebook.  Just seems to me that everyone wants to be irritable and riled up all the time anymore.  And it makes me sick.  Makes me wonder why bother being an optimist or trying to stay in a good mood.  Everyone else it seems is in always in a lousy and angry mood, why should I be any different?  I just don’t see any happiness or genuine joy in the world anymore.  I’m just scared all the time anymore.  I’m scared of my neighbors, I’m scared of my landlords, I’m scared of my family, and I’m scared of even friends and acquiantances anymore.  It’s like empathy doesn’t exist anymore.  I just want to stay home and sleep all the time anymore.  And even in my dreams I am tormented.  But at least my dreams aren’t real.  My paranoias might not be reality either, but they just as well be as that is how powerful the human mind is.  I’m just too tired and burned out to stay angry all the time anymore.  That anger has given way to genuine fear and anxiety.  I am tired of being full of fear all the time.  I used to believe the future would be really cool if we could get past our short term issues.  I no longer believe that.  I think the dystopians were right and the future will be worse than even now.  I’ve observed people in my own life since I was a child and rarely do people change for the better over the years.  Most actually get more angry, greedy, irritable, and hateful as they age.  At least, that’s the impression that I have gotten over the years.  I’m tired of always being sad and depressed.  I’m tired of seeing nothing but hate and anger in everyone I meet anymore.  People like that just as well be back in the Stone Age.  And maybe that’s where we are heading.  I hope not.  I guess I’m writing just to get things I’ve kept bottled up for weeks now.  I’m scared if I had the traditional psych breakdown where I vent for a couple hours that I’ll get the cops called on me and I will definately then be evicted.  I’ve always had the fear of being evicted from my apartment too.  Had that for years.  I doubt it would be any better if I owned my own property.  I’m just paranoid to a disabling degree.  But such is the nature of schizophrenia.  And I still have no understanding of people who don’t believe that mental illness exists.  But some people are just ignorant and lack any kind of empathy.  If you have no empathy, than I won’t deal with you.  The world needs empathy, compassion, and a willingness to forgive and let a few things slide more than ever.  And I just don’t see this happening, at least not where I live.

Relapse and Feeling Vulnerable

Been having some truly down days for the last week.  Finally had a breakdown a couple days ago.  I hate those.  Seems to be the only way out of those is to just rant and rave to an empathetic person, namely my parents.  I am thankful I didn’t have said breakdown in public, otherwise I’d be in jail or dead.  It saddens me to read stories like the one about the kid at Georgia Tech getting killed by police while undergoing a breakdown. Now I know most people don’t care about the mentally ill, I get that.  It’s tough to relate to problems you can’t see or imagine.  But it does scare me that this kid could have been me if past situations were a little different.  Now I don’t hate police officers, I have a couple in my extended family.  I know they have a difficult and thankless job.  But I just fear them.  I fear people with power.  I’ve seen people with power abuse it too many times.  Makes me fear that power is supposed to be abused and that normal people respect those that abuse power more than those that don’t abuse their power.

I guess that I am still depressed and fearful.  I know it’s not manly to feel fear and depression.  It’s seems like it’s not manly to feel anything at all.  My breakdown wasn’t helped any that I finally had to deal with internet trolls on my blog’s Facebook page.  I didn’t write back to them, I just blocked them.  Seems to be the only real effective way to deal with fools and bullies online.  Seems to me that Facebook brings out the worst in people.  As much as I love science and tech, I truly fear for our species when mind reading tech is perfected.  I fear this far more than I do AI our automation taking millions of jobs.  Maybe we won’t solve our current problems.  I just fear what the average person is capable of anymore.