Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Future's So Bright...

Last week I got to thinking about how lucky animals (non-humans) are in that they don't keep track of time. I'm sure many observe the changes in seasons, but they don't worry about their age or life expectancy. I think we're cursed in that aspect. It's disheartening to think my cats won't be around as long as us, but they're so blessed in that they don't know that. They live moment to moment without a care or concern about tomorrow; they don't dwell on yesterday.

And then I finished a great book that deals with this point on a much larger scale--Douglas Coupland's "Girlfriend in a Coma." One issue it dwells on is that humans are the only animal that keeps track of history. We're the only ones concerned with the future. But are we meant to do this? The human mind cannot really grasp anything further than 50 years into the future or 100 years into the past. Have you ever wrestled with the concept of when the universe first began, and then what was there before it? Your mind just can't handle it. "Girlfriend in a Coma" put it quite simply: the universe is just the universe. There's no point in measuring how old it is. We weren't meant to keep track of time in such a manner.

But the main question the book asks is this: are we really progressing as humans? The more advanced we become, the more unhappier we are. Technology is advancing at lightning speed: as you try to catch up you only fall further behind. More and more people are feeling lost as a result. I work in technology and it's a never ending learning process. Java was huge--now it's dying. Dot Net is huge now. But by the time I learn that it'll be dying. I'll never be caught up. And that's a microcosm for all society. We're advancing so fast that most people are stressed and unhappy that they're getting left behind. Imagine what life was like 50 years ago. If you wanted a job you could look in the paper, make a phone call and be interviewed right over the phone. You might be hired within minutes. Today you fax a resume to a number (many times the company doesn't even identify themselves) and hope they even receive it. Chances are you may be qualified and not even get a call back. You're just lost in oblivion with hundreds of other resumes. Things were simpler back then, and I have a feeling there were more happy people.

I just feel like I'm not living the life I'm supposed to live. I work in technology but I'm beginning to hate it. At least what it's doing to us. Things appear to be simpler on the surface: on-line banking, e-mail. It's hard to picture life without the Internet. Granted the information you can find there in minutes can be priceless. And being able to communicate with people from around the world for virtually nothing is amazing. But when I compare my life now to that before the Internet, I realize I was much happier then. I got out more. I didn't feel the need to learn HTML, Java, all the dot net languages, Flash, Photoshop. I didn't worry about identity theft, hackers, worms and viruses.

And it's not just the Internet. I have digital cable with over 250 channels and DVR. This package combined with high speed Internet costs $100 a month. I have 2 computers, each with 2 hard drives and dual boot operating systems, linked to a network at home. I feel like I always have to keep up with the Joneses.

I wish I could have a job where I could reach a certain level of expertise and be done with it. That will never happen in technology. And it's not just the technology field. Most jobs today require computer skills--and it's a never ending process. I remember when Wordperfect and Lotus were huge. Now it's MS Office. Many fields are becoming obsolete because of technology. It's forcing more and more people to switch careers at a point in their lives when they should be comfortable. I switched several years ago to technology because it was so lucrative. Now everyone's doing it and it's hard to find anything worthwhile. And everyone spends so much time learning what's new and improved that we have little time for the things that really matter: such as life itself. I don't see an end to this. I have to study all these damn new programs only to find that something new and better will be coming out shortly.

My point is that I don't want to worry about the future. I don't like spending so much time planning for my future that I can't even enjoy the present. Why do I even have to know that I'm getting older? I look at my cats and I envy them so much. For them the sun goes up and then it goes down. They don't know they're getting older. They don't worry about the future and they don't dwell on the past. I really wonder if we're the only species that does this.

We're always in such a hurry. Life is moving so fast that we'll all be in our graves before we know it. I want to slow down so much. But how? It seems you can't function in the first world without technology. You won't be able to communicate with the outside world. You'll get stuck behind with your head under water. I want life to be simple again. And I want to do it my way. Who knows--maybe my book will get published and I can finally live my life the way I want.


Anonymous Charlotte said...

wow, that was really insightful...a very nice entry for me to read first thing in the morning=] haha, i love your blog it always has something good.

7:18 AM  
Blogger exley said...

Well, thank you! That's very kind.

9:48 PM  

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