When we get a computer, software upgrade, or new phone, they arrive loaded with improved features for us to learn, simplified steps to save us time, and many new features we’ve never looked at and are unlikely to spend time looking for, exploring or experimenting with them.
Because we see these as new models of our tools, we want to transition back to our daily routine with minimal inconvenience or disruption as possible so we can resume business as usual.
And, the person taking a class on how to use those new items likely can’t wait for the class to be over so they can get back to work and use the features they already know.
Conversely, the person getting their first computer, the person who never used earlier versions of the software or had that brand of phone, is like the curious kid on the first day of school – eager to learn, anxious to try out their new toy/gadget/toolbox.
This is my take on ‘what happens,’ and yours might be completely different, which is OK; my point is to illustrate that we grasp/tolerate/absorb minor changes in a systemic way that doesn’t open our minds much because we think we know stuff.
We think moving from the old version to the new version is akin to getting into a rental car and driving away without much thought; it’s a car and we know how to drive one. We wouldn’t be so quick, though, to get into a high-priced high-speed sports car, a make and model we don’t know, if we were buying it without reading the manual or watching some online tutorials about that expensive machine, its operation and maintenance, its safety features, and unique things we need to know to drive it …
OK, Mark, what’s your real point here?
We’ve all lived with weather, illnesses, flu season, bull markets, bear markets, late shipments, inflation, deflation and stagflation – we’ve seen parties and leaders rise and fall, governments changing, wars, skirmishes, treaty breaches, and the ravages of crime, disease, dictatorships, and human rights abuses. Most of these problems-du jour appear above the fold for a few days and happen somewhere else.
Along comes a pandemic, and we collapse a decade-worth of change into two years. Technologies and businesses appear and thrive, others fail, fortunes are made, and fortunes unravel overnight. Climate didn’t change at a faster rate, but consciousness did. Issues of race, gender, ageism and fairness didn’t change much, but consciousness and calls for action accelerated. The U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade didn’t happen overnight either; that was a 30-year crusade driven by religious groups who found/learned and succeeded by being Republican and patient. Republicans, profoundly religious or not, capitalized on that movement to remake/re-invent what that term meant, and the shape of that court today will upset apple carts for decades – far more than zealots or Republicans might have ever imagined.
Governments come and go, recessions come and go, weather comes and goes, and fashion trends come and go. Everybody wants the next new thang, and everybody wants to replace the old things.
I like to keep my car on the road, keep my technology gear functioning and avoid hot tips, hot trends, and the hottest new thangs!
Yes, we need progress, and the pandemic and its recovery period have shocked us and caused us to better appreciate the interconnectedness. And with all that, new things, new problems, new solutions.
But what about the old problems, the big problems, the unsolved problems?
Do they go away?
My attention, like most people, is focused day to day on enjoying a lifestyle and enjoying work that makes a living and adds value to the world. But what is changing as a result of those efforts? We donate to charities, volunteer to help causes, and lend a hand to friends in need. All good. Keep doing it, please.
But what about the unsolved problems and puzzles of the world? Should we leave them unsolved, wait for 20-somethings to fix them, wait for A-I to fast-track the math and give us solutions?