What would you be doing?
One thing I always enjoy having marathon, late-night conversations with my close friends about is what we think we might be doing had the internet not come along. Spy? Writer? Scientist? Doctor? Blacksmith?
I don’t think I’ve ever come up with a good answer. I really have no idea what I’d spend my time doing. It seems to me that life was quite a bit simpler pre-internet and pre-industrial revolution. Yes, gathering food, killing prey, escaping from predators, staying warm, etc., wasn’t easy, but it was routine. And routine almost always means boring depending on the task and your intelligence.
To have to devote so much time and energy just to subsist sounds absolutely awful to me. I quite literally do as little as possible when it comes to domestic bullshit, and luckily for me, we’re entering the golden age of the on-demand economy and soon enough the only things I’m going to have to do myself are shower and put on deodorant.
It’s hard to think about, right? I started writing HTML (lol) at 12 (in 1992) and was coding even before then. What if I was a farmer’s kid at 12 — would I have been as taken with a high-yield method of growing corn? A new tilling machine? I highly doubt it. I think it’s more likely that I’d be bored as shit.
But, maybe that’s just my millennial experience talking. Maybe, like most things, it’s all relative. The argument of course is that I wouldn’t know what I was missing, and so maybe I would be as obsessive and neurotic about farming equipment as I am with computers. I doubt it, but maybe.
I think that even apart from the notification-happy, Pavlovian society we’ve been inculcating ourselves with for the past 15 years, humans have changed, and in a profound way. We have zero-friction access to infinite information. We have 1000 different things we can choose to do with our lives. The options really are limitless, and it’s all because of computers and the internet. Distance is no longer a factor for a huge swath of jobs. You can learn about anything you want, and essentially for free.
I think it’s incumbent upon us — humans in this day and age — to create and solve as much as we can…before the robots take over. They’ll respect us a little more…I think.