What Are We Doing

In 2006 when I first moved to Las Vegas as a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force, I didn’t realize how simple my life was. I went to work during the day, exercised, and did creative writing on most evenings, and weekends I’d hang out with the crew of people I met. That cycle repeated until I left in 2009 and I always reflect fondly on those days. I had a side job at the gas station down the street from my apartment as well. I will admit, that was not all that fun, but I gained a greater appreciation for what folks have to do to survive in the country. This is also why I try to be polite to all the people I meet. The things my co-workers at that gas station had to deal with in their personal lives were crazy, the last thing they needed was an asshole customer (they still got asshole customers). 

close up of a sentence on a letter board
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

In these simpler times, I spoke with my family on the phone regularly. Saturdays and Sundays before hangout hours, I was usually on the phone with someone thanks to free nights and weekends packages by cell phone carriers. I don’t even think unlimited talk was a thing yet…but my money wasn’t long enough to know for certain. We had social media, kind of. MySpace was big, but clunky enough that people still sought physical connection. The ability to give constant updates was limited if you actually had a life because smart phones didn’t exist either. Facebook was around, but primarily for college students, which I was not. Once the shift occurred, more people began posting their updates on Facebook, the iPhone was widely available constantly telling us “There’s an app for that” and all the things we wanted immediate access to.

Gratification no longer delayed; people began doing a little bit of everything on smart phones. The music industry began the shift towards streaming, specialized social media began popping up everywhere. Billions of dumb ass comments from millions of dumb ass people mixed in with the handful of worthwhile information on Twitter. News outlets, known for journalism devolved into reporting on Tweets, even highlighting Tweets in the ticker running across the screen. Real life was still going on across the globe, but it felt less and less like reality. This hyper tech-focused reality that was clearly taking over seemed to take the human connection out of our lives in the same way a magician takes your watch off and places it somewhere without you knowing. Except this magic trick doesn’t end well.

Back in late July of 2023, a company contacted me wanting to team on a contract opportunity. They are focused in the tech sector, whereas my company is primarily staff augmentation, which was the focus of this opportunity. I agreed because of my relationship with the person, I never heard of the company before her call. We began the process of putting together the proposal, several weekend meetings and long hours invested. When it was time to merge our work, I realized they were promoting AI in their portion of the proposal, so naturally I said, “this doesn’t make sense”. They insisted on leaving it in there, but I tossed it out. On the final revision, it made it back in without me noticing. Luckily, there was an issue with the Government’s acquisition process, so they requested we revise some things, and I caught it. If it weren’t for the signed teaming agreement with this firm, we’d cut ties altogether.

I’ve spent the better part of my 42 years on this planet around people with varying income levels. Some folks are thriving with several million next to their net worth, there are others that couldn’t rub two nickels together if they found one nickel on the street. I foresee this issue getting worse as society continues to lose its capacity to see people as people. Instead, people are viewed as stats, commodities, expendable things in the name of greater profit. This bothers me, but what bothers me the most is how it’s happening right in front of our eyes. We are seeing low paying jobs automated which not only takes jobs from the unskilled workforce, but also our seniors looking to stay active in their older years. In addition to this decrease in workers, there is an increase on the price of everything, meaning those barely getting by before are no longer getting by. Not surprising, homelessness is also up since 2020, and it’s safe to assume that trend will continue in the coming years.

My brother is a tech nerd and is aware of many of the new trends in tech before most of us normal people. He was telling me how great AI was and how people would be able to use it to do so many mundane things, freeing people to do more important stuff. Which is likely the dumbest damn thing I’ve heard him say, probably ever. 

Yeah, what this thing said!

At no point in our nation’s history has it ever truly cared for the less fortunate. From the beginning you had to have something to even vote. We live in a republic where we elect clowns to make decisions for us, and they make decisions based on loyalty to their political gang affiliation and personal quests for power…not what’s best for their constituents. This is evident in the growing distrust among Americans for their elected officials. Completely understandable with clowns like Trump and Biden considered the “best” we can do. If they’re the best we’re screwed…and yes, I voted for Biden, but I would have rather seen Pete Buttigieg or Liz Warren in the President and Vice positions respectively.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, I think more people are starting to wake up to this new state of affairs. On average there are roughly 3.7M new videos uploaded to YouTube, 34M new posts on TikTok, 95M new posts on Instagram, and 500M new tweets every day. We are being inundated with content, but as folks have to make harder decisions, there’s less time for that BS. Now a days, questions like “should I make this omelet or buy 3 gallons of gas for my car” are starting to weigh heavy on people. Workers in California are pushing for a $20 per hour minimum wage, which means Mickey D’s and Wendy’s will soon be passing that on to you. Get ready for that $18 Happy Meal. Oh, and since people can’t afford much, there will be stealing, robbing and crimes against people and personal property at a higher clip than what we’re seeing now. It’s like we are awarding the rich for being rich and telling the poor people to figure it out. Wait, that’s still doomy and gloomy…

I was going to go into the environment right here, but we already know how wonderfully that’s going. The silver lining is that it isn’t too late to get our shit together as a nation. This morning I was watching Barack Obama talking about something on YouTube and thought “man I remember when the nation was hopeful”. The national mood was much better under Barack despite Fox searching for dirt on him. Things seemed a bit more civil and less silly for sure. The messaging has changed and much like the way animals can read their humans, I’m reading these politicians. Barack was “Yes we can”, Donald was “I can do what I want” and Joe Biden is “I just hope I can make it” …the last two being joy killers obviously. I think the country is ready for another sensible head of state to settle our collective nerves, hopefully not another septuagenarian or octogenarian. 

Despite the mood of this post, I’m optimistic that something will work out. What exactly is anyone’s guess, but I believe we’ll start to see and do better. Every now and then you have to ask, “what are we doing” and it’s almost exclusively asked when stuff ain’t right. When the two leading candidates for the Presidency in 2023 got their driver’s licenses before Black people were granted civil rights, we have to ask, “what are we doing”. Something is clearly not right with the country if we are looking that far in the past for future leadership. We can do better, hopefully we get the chance to do better. 

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