Week 9 - To Save Humanity And Lead A Happy Life, Do This One Thing.
As we walk around with our heads down, the glow of tiny gadgets crops our noses. Artificial light reflects off our faces. We don’t bother to glance up to see the stunning green flash of the setting sun.
We live in cramped spaces built and lit for machines, not humans. We sit in these rooms typing quickly over keypads. They send a long string of sequenced numbers to rotating satellites containing messages. One is a message that is efficiently forwarded to the inbox of our coworker, the next cubical over, congratulating him on the birth of his baby.
We blast our kids with signals that efforts and talents can only bring success if measured by numerics, ratings, rankings and degrees. All tallied by a computer set in temperature controlled space in an obsure corner of our planet.
What is becoming apparent is that we are slowly becoming androids, if we continue to turn a blind eye to the artist inside of all of us. If we don’t create every day, we will lose the battle of what it means to be human.
I was never good at math. I had a hard time understanding phonetics. Until this day, I still have trouble spelling basic words. (Thank you to IBM for spell check.) In the second grade, I didn’t meet state requirements and was placed into a special education class. Years of failed test taking, left me with a profound sense that I just wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t smart. After massive amounts of determination and hard work, I obtained a successful academic and professional career based firmly in creative work. Today I wonder why we as a society place such emphasis on metrics? Instead of saying “Yes, that is the right answer,” why aren’t we asking “Why is that the right answer?” Why have we placed more emphasis on numbers and technology than process?
When we look at the broad view, technology can distract us from building and living up to our true calling. If we are not careful, it distracts us from being inspired to draw, write, act or create something of value. To maintain a sense of human self, we need to start asking how we can pivot today into a more human tomorrow? What does it look like if we don’t allow technology, metrics, ratings, rankings and fear control us? Will we let the reflected life lead the measured life?
Creating is the catalyst for change. We use technology to dictate our lives. Androids control the temperature in our rooms, drive vehicles, and tell humans how to interact with each other. We label it automation and moving humanity forward. Technology, however, diverts each of us from creating and living up to our true purpose. We binge watch television and scroll mindlessly through social media. We artificially construct connections and value by relying on technology to do it for us. People are drawn to technology because it appears to simplify life and relationships. It takes the fear out of direct interaction or responsibility. However, creating real human interactions is what makes us well, human.
Let’s talk for a moment about creating. Creating is not art. It’s a skill that can be learned and applied to any organization, platform, project, product or cause. It reframes our lives and creates new perspectives however like a muscle, it needs to be exercised.
Let’s also talk about the fact that technology can be a beautiful thing. It saves lives, it simplifies certain aspects of our lives and streamlines processes, case in point spell check.
However, if we don’t balance technology with our creativity, it could destroy what it means to be human. The two should walk and talk hand in hand. It’s apparent from the choices we make that we are letting technology take over rather than letting them play together. We would rather become factories than pieces of art.
How to do we alter future of humanity? We need to take back what it means to be human. We need to create every day. We need to do soul work. Let’s do work that is messy, uncomfortable and wrong. Creating is the basis of being human. We are flawed so let’s embrace it and make stuff that is true to our purpose.
In the end, what matters to humans? Other humans, not technology. I ran into an acquaintance the other day. After a few moments of chit chat, she said she was so glad she never had kids because of overpopulation of the planet. As a mother of two young children, it was interesting to hear her challenge my life choice. I created two living beings from my body who will be the future of humankind. That is profound but what was more profound was having this other person have a completely different point of view than my own. It was a real moment, a real connection that made me think and feel. We need to let our human stories be told and play out the lives we are too fearful to pursue.
What can we do today to start to pivot? Put down the smartphone and see a friend. Create a real connection. Get up from your computer and get outside. Create space in your body and mind. Draw with your kids. Stare at some art. Listen to music. Watch the clouds outside. Write the first sentence of the novel that’s in your head. Snap more photos of the world around you. Jot down the business idea and get the idea in motion. Start the idea that is percolating in the gray matter. Create something today. A better tomorrow is just ahead by being more human today.
Humanity is counting on you and so is your happiness.
Until tomorrow great humans.