For most people reading this, the last three years were difficult. We’ve had dramatic changes in world leadership, many people have lost their jobs (including both my wife and me), and technology seems to dominate our social lives. Long gone are the days when our PCs/laptops were the places to connect online. We’re on our phones 24/7. We’re extremely divided politically. We’ve gained more access to knowledge but become dumber every single day. Less people are going outside. And as much as it doesn’t bother me, it bothers others that kids get too much screen time at an early age.
You’re probably reading this wondering either where we lost our way or if there is hope. Will the 20s be any different? I’m not going to lie. I have absolutely no idea.
At the beginning of 2010, I had a complete vision of what my life was going to look like. I would finish college and take my dad’s place doing IT for the Manitoba government once he retired in 2014. Part way through 2011, I discovered how toxic fundamentalist Christianity was when a friend I had for years started to call me demon possessed when I couldn’t get over the breakup of a past relationship. This girl I broke up with and this same friend also had some very damaging beliefs about how men and women are supposed to be matched in the church and who should marry who. A pastor from my wife’s church had to walk me through the spiritual abuse. The fallout from these lies still gives my wife and I problems in our marriage today. I graduated college as a web developer, got stuck in a data entry position where all I did was process orders and consult when it came to customer chat services. I was let go from that job for political reasons (stupid politics), and tried to start an app flipping business to support my wife. My biggest client screwed me over and I had to shut things down in 2017 after spending most of the money earned on assets that never lasted. I have failed multiple times to try and restart a business. I tried working a regular job and injured my back in 2018 as a result. Through this difficult time, my wife and I bought a house and found ourselves having to sell it because of both my injury and how stressed she was in her own administrative position. We both could not function. So now, here we are. We’re both writers trying to sell our books and begin adventures as either social media marketers or artists trying to do what we love.
Don’t get me wrong. There were some good times in this decade. I got to visit the Caribbean and the Philippines for the first time as well as finally fall in love, perform both solo and acapella music in a band, and actually meet other people who were like me (geeks and nerds in other words).
Here’s what I do know. Between the errors of capitalism, commercialism, economics, and the fact that governments either do nothing or bicker amongst themselves, we have no idea how long this world and the progression that conservatives are claiming is happening will last. We’re living in a time where nobody is going to accept life as mundane as it is. We hate our jobs. Mental health is becoming a crisis. The wellness industry is starting to actually hit mainstream waves. The human potential movement is going through some form of revival because people are looking for hope. Teenagers can’t seem to find jobs. Online outrage and vicitmhood chic is the new sexy. A good portion of the first world wants Mr. Trump out of office.
I unfortunately hate politics but we need to talk about this. It doesn’t matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum. We need to change the way we think and the way we live. I don’t have all the answers but I do have a few suggestions as to a few things we can try to be better people and get along in this world. I’m not saying these are things we must do, but I strongly suggest giving them a try as I plan to do starting next year as much as I can.
Mind your business when reading stuff online.
Note that I’m going to be discussing online forums such as YouTube Reddit and Facebook comment threads. Being enraged seems to give a dopamine high but it’s only temporary. Being offended doesn’t change the world unless it’s something you’re intimately involved with or have influence over. If what’s offensive is something that we can’t correct with comments or physically getting involved, I highly suggest scrolling past and moving forward to a thread with more healthy debate.
I’ve broken this rule several times, but I’ve come to a point where I needed to let things go and pick my battles. If I do have to say something, I try to understand the entire context of where another person is coming from and empathize with their situation (unless they’re being a total douchenut). I’ve come to a place where I have to read back what I say before hitting “reply” or “post.” Even if I do mean well, I find myself in hot water because online commentary doesn’t always communicate things like sarcasm or if I’m making a joke or not.
I get it. I want to change the world just like the people who are not satisfied with how idiotic it’s become. Unfortunately, breaking or changing a confirmation bias will not work from posting comments alone. It doesn’t matter if the comment is outraged, insulting, or smart and exposes how wrong a person is. People are set in their ways and all we can do is give our two cents and then walk away if they get nasty.
In the physical world, there’s no point stopping what happens in the world unless someone wants to do something physically damaging. It’s wise to call local authorities but if they aren’t responding or don’t arrive quick enough, trying to get away in stealth mode should be an option if situations comes down to that. Self-defence should be a last resort.
Stay away from screens and technology as much as possible.
Sometimes I feel like the more I spend time in front of a computer screen, the more absent-minded I become. I’m at the point now where I want to start using less technology and start investing into more active hobbies in the realm of fitness, travel, and playing actual musical instruments.
Technology does have its positives when it comes to communication, and ecommerce, but we’ve crossed so many lines that everything’s becoming automated and our media is filled with stuff that’s no big deal (except Baby Yoda and cat videos; keep those coming). I think we’re coming to a point where we rely on computers for stuff we don’t even need to rely on compared to other kinds of technology.
Depending on the medium, I’m planning on bringing my technology use down to the point where I’ll only be using it for writing, communication I need, and of course video, audio, and ebook consumption. I even plan to read actual books and use none screen electronic music instruments. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s time to take care of both my physical and mental health as computers have seem to have done damage to both of these online and offline.
People and Phones
Every time I go to a gathering now, people are constantly on their phones. When I find myself doing the same thing, I try to stop. I understand the need to keep up. I understand the fear of missing out, but finding out the lastest in the impeachment inquiry at a later time is not going to kill you. You can always find out where the stocks are after the gathering (unless it comes up in conversation; then you can use the phone to look it up (but put the damn thing away afterwards)). I’m at the point now where I want to talk with people face to face. I actually turn my phone off when I’m at family gatherings and only take it out when showing or looking up something. I want to talk about what people do besides playing with their phones. I don’t want to talk about politics, the news, or sports. I don’t want to talk about the latest TV show unless I’ve seen it myself. I want to know how people are doing. I want to know how people’s kids are doing. I want to know if my friend’s doing okay at their job. I want to know what they think about life and philosophy. I want to talk about just simple stuff like nature, music, funny failures that were turned into opportunities, jokes, and the good things God has done in people’s lives. All the rest means nothing, especially when a conversation comes up that came from a Facebook article popping up on someone’s “dumb-phone.”
I want to not only become smarter. I don’t want to fall into a trap of trying to chase a certain milestone in life. Every day, in every way, I want to be better and better. I want to read books like Atomic Habits by James Clear, Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steve Covey. I want to completely destroy my back pain so I can start lifting weights. I want to be able to overcome emotional pain quickly. I want to be able to network with people better and actually live life with excellence as opposed to constantly wallowing in self-pity and screwing up as a “wantre-preneur.” I want to live an abundant life. I want to be free from the system of going to school, getting good grades, and working 9 – 5 for a life that doesn’t amount to anything. It’s time to learn how to as Rob Dial puts it, embrace the music. It’s not about getting rich. It’s not about becoming a complete success. It’s not even about becoming an exceptional person. It’s about living an abundant life without having to conform to the mindset of just simply surviving one day at a time.
Books and Networking
Before I close off this year, I want to share some big news. I’m planning to release a book in the Kindle store next year. Afterwards, I plan to start reaching out to old friends who I think will enjoy the book and may even start speaking at events and churches. I want to sort of counsel others who went through similar struggles but don’t want to go to school for it. I want to network with others who want to make a positive change in their lives and give them my own person tips and tricks that helped me get over some of what happened over the past decade.
Some of my friends will probably think I’ve gone crazy or feel I will never actually amount to anything, but at least I want to try. And if anyone thinks I should become a pastor? Heck no.
So do I think the 20s are going to be a blast? I don’t know. I hope so. I want to be positive, but the truth is that positivity and happiness will only come upon me temporarily if I keep solving problems. The euphoria of giddiness and glee is just an emotion like anger, sadness, lust, and rage. Real joy comes from knowing God will keep me going no matter how good or how bad things get. That’s just all I know.
If you ask me where I’m going to be in 5 years, don’t. I have no idea. I don’t even care now. All I need to do is just keep moving forward and make some changes to my life and my mindset. And above all, not give up. Life finds a way.