How Forced Self-Isolation Might Change Life and Work

We are going through a major transformation.

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Suddenly, there are all these people on the streets. Some go for a jog, others walk their dogs at 2pm, or drink beer.

What are they doing? They are all sitting at home. They are working from home, and their time is free.

And even though I shouldn’t be surprised by this change — I (almost) always lived this way — watching all those people makes me think what’s happening to the world right now.

What we call «reality» is nothing but what we’re used to.

Nobody worked 9–5, for five days a week and took two days off 300 years ago.

People were craftsmen and artisans, they worked from home and made things.

Their time was free. They didn’t leave their house to go to «work». Instead, people came to them — to buy books, cloth, binoculars, and everything else.

Their house was their home and their shop.

Suddenly, the Industrial Revolution happened.

Then Ford came along some 100 years later. The assembly line appeared. People went off to work at a factory.

The bell would ring at 9 AM, «All take positions!», and then it would ring again at 5 PM, telling the hard working-class men to go home.

The 20th century was about a different type of factory.

Corporations. The world changed then.

Unlike your parents, you’d graduate from a prestigious college and you’d go work at a cubicle. You’d work your way up the capitalistic career ladder, and (hopefully) end up a partner someday (but maybe not).

The 9–5 5/2 regime, however, stayed. People were used to it, it’s convenient, so why not.

We were sold ‘progress’.

Progress is good, they told us. Every year GDP has to go up a certain %, and you should make more money tomorrow than you did yesterday. We were sold success, credit cards, and the American Dream.

Today we are going through another major transformation.

The Internet brought us all these tools which we (unfortunately) think of as more ways to waste time.

But YouTube exists not for you to watch «ice bucket challenge» videos, it exists so that you can create your own show. Broadcast yourself, as they say.

Medium exists not so that you could scroll through 3-min reads sitting on the toilet. It exists so that you could think and say something worth saying.

There are people who’ve realized that these platforms are tools, and made something of themselves. Instead of waiting to be picked, they chose themselves and built their own careers.

Others, however, were too busy filling up their resumes and taking internships.

The system is cracking.

The coronavirus crisis and all other major global problems are slowly pointing us towards a new step in social evolution. We are like scientists in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation — the crisis exists to point us towards (the only) right direction.

All those people left to their own devices, self-isolated and sitting at home will realize, that the world they’ve lived in is fake.

Like Neo in the Matrix, they’ll realize the truth:

  1. That you don’t have to work 9–5 5/2.
  2. You don’t have to climb the career ladder (if you don’t want to, of course), and you don’t have to sign on the dotted line and quietly follow instructions.
  3. That progress is overrated.
  4. You’ll find out, that if you sit at home (e.g., self-isolated) — you (gasp!) don’t need money.

And if you don’t need money, what the hell were you working for in the first success? What’s success? What’s the goal? What’s this all about then?

It’s not your fault.

We were meticulously brainwashed by parents, college counselors and self-help gurus.

I am grateful to have an unorthodox upbringing and a father, who always refused to follow the conventional path. As a result, I became a sort of a maverick — I disobeyed authority from a young age, dropped out of college, and followed my own path. We’ll now see more examples of this.

The world is changing, and it’s your job to find your way in it.

To learn to work from home, as the artisans 300 years ago. To start viewing platforms as tools, not (just) as entertainment.

And to finally, maybe for the first time, stop waiting to be picked.

And choose yourself.

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