Being an old retired guy with lots of friends and family that seem to be increasingly confused by technological, political, and societal change, I have begun to wonder.
What do I wonder about? How will they all survive after I am gone. I know it seems like nonsense, since obviously life will go on and I won’t care, because I’ll be … uh … er … umm … worm food. For example, my wife and kids “seem to rely” on me for technical, financial, and general life advice. I may be wrong on this and they are in fact just humoring an old man that thinks that he can correct the faults he has perceived in the decisions that they are making.
My wife for example, cannot stand the mass of audio, computer, and home automation control that I have inflicted upon her and our house. She often says, “When yer gone, so is all of this sh$t”. She is a bit of a Luddite, but still I must ask myself, why do I do it? She definitely gets along fine when I am not around or away on a trip, so the answer must lie elsewhere. I do worry how she will handle the finances, bills, and various control devices I have foisted upon her otherwise serene existence. I have automated everything from the thermostat to the lighting to the TV and stereo system. It’s all controlled by voice or various control devices that I have lying around the house. In fact I have gotten some panicked calls when something messes up or disconnects and I am out of town.
We are in the digital and internet age, so one can almost not survive without some modicum of technical savvy. Everything, including our credit reports and social security accounts are locked down tight with double super secret encryption and two-factor authentication. I use an encrypted secure password repository to store 20+ random character passwords for all of our accounts. I doubt that Elon Musk himself could unravel the intricate internet mesh, connections, wires, passwords, and devices that I have assembled into this empire of chaotic nonsense.
I must assume that the answer is that I had all sorts of technical stuff to focus on as well as projects and people to manage while I was working. Now that I am not working, my roving eye seeks to fill the empty void that my life has become with the familiar. In my case, the familiar is technology and the management thereof. And since that is what I can now control, that is what I diddle with. I cannot control societal or political change, and hence have chosen to ignore those things to the best of my ability. I do complain about them or make crude jokes about the nitwittery of the folks that think they can control and manipulate societal and political change, but of course they cannot. I do believe that the mighty powers that be really have no control over those things, so they must pretend that they do. Personally, I can’t put my finger on one specific thing that has changed in my life due to some specific decision that was made by a Washington power broker. We currently are in an inflationary cycle, and the stock market is a bit chaotic, and there are wars in this world. But can I point to some decision made by anyone that caused all of this? Not really. I attribute it all to a mass of chaotic decisions that have been made by a mass of disorganized and disconnected individuals. These decisions form a chaotic soup of chain reactions with unintended consequences. It’s the old chaos theory in action.
Wuzzat you say? Chaos theory? At this point we will interrupt this stream of consciousness discussion and head down the rabbit hole.
Chaos theory is the study of small changes that completely transform the future of a system. Chaos theory attempts to model chaotic behavior and predict an outcome. Weather patterns are a perfect example of Chaos Theory. We can usually predict weather patterns pretty well when they are in the near future, but as time goes on, more factors influence the weather, and it becomes practically impossible to predict what will happen. And so it goes with life, politics, and societal change. We can predict the consequences of political, societal, and life decisions in the short term, but in the long term not so much.
I have this theory about the direction in a person’s life, which I shall call “The Meteor Theory” that I think exemplifies the chaos theory perfectly. It goes something like this. Let’s say that a meteor is headed towards earth and is currently near Mars. At that point I could probably hit it with a flicked booger and it would be deflected just enough, that by the time it got near earth, it would miss us and I would have saved all of humanity with my booger.
Now let’s say that that same meteor never got struck by the aforementioned booger, and is now 1000 miles from hitting the earth and sending us all back to relive an episode of “It’s About Time“. There is no booger big enough to deflect that meteor.
I’ve often thought that the Meteor Theory should be applied to raising children, although they should probably remain unaware that they are the subjects of an experiment in social engineering. I believe that you set a child’s direction early and they end up in a place that reflects that direction. This is not always the rule, as there can be mid course corrections (aka high velocity boogers). Things like car crashes, drinking, drugs, angry ex girlfriends, and school drop outs can all cause such course corrections. These corrections are far more painful and life changing than something as simple as your old man planting his foot squarely on your ass and setting you back on the straight and narrow path.
And so it goes