What This Insane Year Is Trying To Teach Us

Long-term planning is a luxury we, as a species, no longer possess.

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England has just announced a second lockdown for a month. Again. This ruined a bunch of my plans. Again.

Only this time, it got me thinking.

It’s impossible to make any long-term plans anymore.

Yes, the COVID outbreak will (hopefully) pass soon — humans are smart; they will come up with a vaccine or something else to fight this beast — but for some reason, it feels as if this tendency to rely on short-term planning will prevail.

Don’t get me wrong — this year was the worst. And it’s not my job here to add more panic. But the truth is, it’s not about the coronavirus. It’s about the general tendency about which the authors of Years and Years drama series were terrifyingly right.

We’re moving towards a breaking point, a crisis of humanity, when many different problems collide into one big shitstorm.

In Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, such crises were usually productive — they pointed the human race towards the right course of action, giving them no choice except one. Humanity, in Asimov’s universe, progressed in milestones — from one crisis to the next crisis.

Call me neurotic, but it seems as if we’re approaching one.

As our world becomes ever more complex, we will see emergencies like forest fires, global pandemics, floods, extinctions of animal species, and economic collapses become more frequent.

Combine social problems (BLM, Donald Trump) with approaching environmental challenges, global virus outbreaks, fake news, and social media addiction — and you get a scary picture of where the future is headed.

Honestly, I think our generation is fucked. No wonder Elon Musk is so adamant about leaving for Mars.

Trust me: I feel weird thinking about it and writing this. As the product of my generation, I was brought up by Moore’s Law.

“Today is amazing. The future will be even more amazing. Just wait and see,” they told us.

And, for some reason, we believed this. I believed it. For the past 22 years, I sincerely thought that our society's only natural direction from social, technological, and financial standpoints is — up.

We thought that “Singularity is near.” That it’s only a matter of time before we all upload ourselves in iCloud and enjoy transcendence.

But 2017 taught me a valuable lesson. When the world is crazily obsessed over something to the point that it changes reality's laws, it’s probably horseshit.

Such was the case with Bitcoin — everybody and their grandma bought some in 2017. I was 19 at the time, and I remember reading smart, successful people say things like, “The old (fiat) money is dead! That’s it! The revolution is here! Hooray, let’s all drink champagne with hookers in expensive Airbnbs and celebrate!”

Three years later, still trying to pay off their debts incurred by buying into the modern version of the “tulip mania,” these prophets of a “brave new world” aren’t as excited.

My point here is not to make you feel bad. I want to open your eyes to the brutal truth: things aren’t what they are.

You won’t upload yourself in a Dropbox. Bitcoin will not become the currency of the future, probably. And while it may seem that the future holds nothing but pink unicorns and a Skittles rainbow — that’s not the truth either.

The truth is that nobody knows what the fuck is happening or where the world is going. And the more complex our world becomes, the less we will understand it.

But we do know one thing. Things are becoming worse. The world is becoming less stable. The scriptwriters and directors of Years and Years showed it perfectly — however, perhaps, too much in the negative light. We can only hope that Isaac Asimov was right, and the upcoming crisis will show humanity a path forward.

The question is, what are we supposed to do as individuals?

In times like these, we need to learn a lesson that this year (2020) teaches us.

2020 is a strict teacher — almost a bully — but it teaches us to do two things:

  1. adjust;
  2. learn to value the right things.

Adjust

By “adjust,” I mean, we must let go of making big plans for the future.

It’s as if 2020 is screaming, “Dude! Slow down! STOP! Now is the time to go all-in on that hobby. Now is the time to quit that soul-sucking day job you hate. Live in the moment! Don’t plan too much!”

Back when the world was simpler (about 80–100 years ago), it used to be easy to make long-term plans for your career, education, even easy things — like travel.

We need to let go of all of that and realize that this world is different.

I had many plans for this year — as I assume did many of you too — none of them came true.

Long-term planning is a luxury we, as a species, no longer possess.

Value the right things

Finally, by valuing the “right things” I mean, we should learn to cherish what’s real and true and beautiful.

There are not many things that fit this somewhat vague criterion.

Some of the ones I have in my head are:

  1. Honest art.
  2. High-quality knowledge.
  3. True feelings.
  4. Love to your family, friends, and significant others.
  5. Good, high-quality food.

In a complex world full of misinformation, noisy marketing, ads, ill intentions, and instant gratification — we must remember what’s real and true (and beautiful) — which is another way of saying “meaningful things” — and surround ourselves more with them.

Otherwise, we risk going insane.

Humans get used to almost anything. I was really stressed out this spring when my family couldn’t join me for my London birthday. Now, as I am writing this, sitting in a Moscow cafe, stuck for another month or so in a city of my youth, I exhale.

This is how the world is going to be now.

Meanwhile, life goes on.

We owe ourselves to notice and enjoy at least some part of it.

Written by

Making sense of the world and teaching others. | Subscribe here: https://www.faldin.blog | Reach out: faldin.sergey@gmail.com

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