It’s been said before but it bears repeating: we’re living in Computer Times.i
This is hardly the first “times” in human history. We’ve already seen the likes of cave times, tribal times, village times, empire times, monotheistic times, colonial times, and, most recently, democracy times. Computer Times are just the next in a long series. The transition is underway. You can feel it. And it might seem scary and bad and mean and unfair but it’s in no way and under no circumstances optional. It’s happening.
Like the dawn of all new eras, this one is creating significant concern among the shepherdless masses who’re huddled together for warmth. They’re scared shitless because they can’t see forward to tomorrow’s mortgage payment much less discern what the ominous clouds of change gathering on the horizon will bring, even though they can feel the pressure changing in their bones. We see their bleating short-sightedness and confusion manifest in everything from climate change doomsayersii to the plethora of post-secondary studentsiii to the hand-wringing should-be-retirees who’re holding on to their job positions for “just a few more years until the market improves by x, oh no wait y, or why not z.” The air of public uncertainty is palpable and, if you look at the hoards of cash held by publicly-listed companies, quite measurable as well.
Computers, fittingly, are entirely to blame. They buzz in your pocket when you’re in the middle of a conversation with a beautiful girl, they take you on the fastest route to your destination instead of the most scenic, they obfuscate the workings of once comprehensible machines with their inhumanly small scales, and they lead to increased unemployment by replacing human labour. And yet because of their relentless pings and beeps, signalling to you that another mind-expanding portal has opened and would very much like your attention please and thank you, you’re hopelessly addicted to them.iv Even if you could set off a global EMP and free yourself from bondage, you wouldn’t want to live in a world without your digital companion.v
At this juncture in history, we can no longer deny that change is afoot. But what lies ahead? And what are the skills that you’ll need in the days and years to come?vi
First, what lies head: well, low-skilled, poorly educated workers are straight fucked. Thankfully, highly-skilled, highly-educated workers, that is, the individuals, are poised to earn more than ever before. This is because Computer Times promise to bring the purest form of capitalism yet seen by man. Ever. Let that sink in for a moment because if you think the divide rich and poor is stark now, just wait. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Yup, in Computer Times, skills matter! More accurately, skills that computers can’t replicate – such as pattern recognition,vii reading, writing, and communication – matter, while skills that computers can replicate – such as lifting heavy objects, taking blood pressure, and welding car frames – are completely useless. So do you talk real good? Or are Computer Times going to fuck you in the ass and leave you whimpering in the dirt on the side of the road? Yes, it’s that extreme. Yes, it’s that simple.
In this period of transition, your only recourse is to spend every single fucking evening and weekend compensating for your pathetically inadequate schooling in the following ways. It’s this or the soup kitchen:
- Learn the Classics, if you haven’t already. Start with this list and don’t stop even if your friends beg you to leave the house and go out for the evening. Computer Times has saloons and the Irish pubs. Those can wait. You can’t. If your friends can’t see the writing on the wall, let it be their loss. Remember that old bridge jumping koan.
- Learn a second language, if you haven’t already. You don’t have to move to another country to do this, but don’t rule it out either because that’s actually the best way.viii Listen to the radio in your second language, read books in your second language (yes, even kid’s books), manually translate blogs from your second language into your first, and (this is the only optional one) use computer software.ix After a second language, a third will be considerably easier. Starting with a Latin-based languagex isn’t a bad idea.
- Start a blog or a journal, if you haven’t already. It has nothing to do with “being an aspiring writer” and everything to do with making yourself understood in a world without time or geography. Either a blog or a journal can serve as a starting point. How often and how much should you write? Simple: Write every single fucking day. At least 500 words too. E-mails to your mom don’t count. Oh, and learn to type accurately and quickly as well. Mavis Beacon can show you how.
- Learn to sell, if you haven’t already. The art of persuasion isn’t something computers are about to replicate any time soon and it can open doors of opportunity like nothing else. A basic understanding of human psychology, the variety of cultural biases you’re likely to encounter, and logical argumentation methodology are your tools in this endeavour. Practise with the paper clip game. No one is expecting that you’ll trade up for a house in anything less than 40 quadrillion trades, but that’s not the point. The point is to negotiate, manoeuvre, cajole, and convince the person in front of you. “If you can’t play in a man’s game, if you can’t close in a man’s game, then go home and tell your wife your troubles, because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted.”
- Learn to math, if you haven’t already. Drop the calculator. Forget the spreadsheet. Memorize the relationships between different units of measurement in and between the different measurement systems. Develop an eye for scales and a feel for reasonableness. What does a whale weigh in ounces? How high is a telephone pole in mm? How many cups of water fit in a swimming pool? etc.
- Learn to live, if you haven’t already. This means learning to cook for yourself, learning to stay in shape,xi and learning to relax. Computer Times, being timeless, can wind you up pretty tight. Staying sharp, calm, and physically capable is crucial.
These six pillars are your foundation to surviving in Computer times. As you can see, they’re all about being educated, skilled, flexible, and adaptable.xii The age of pretending that you can create a world that will conform to your every individual whim is over. Sure, you can have your Starbucks latté however sweet and creamy you want, but no, you cannot control the weather and no, you cannot increase the block size. You’re in no way in control of the world, but you are in control of yourself.xiii
With these six pillars in place, you’re finally ready to become an individual, which means that you’re also ready to use the most important tools of Computer Times, namely the Web of Trust, Bitcoin, and PGP.
It’s that simple really:
Disce aut mori.
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- MP started it in Spamming reddit, an “experiment” (if not before) when refering to the group’s inability to exist in Computer Times, and I’ve subsequently used the term in reference to cause-theory, socialistoids like Marcus the neo-nazi, and the inability of democracy to elect strong shepherds. Now, at last, the term gets explained! [↩]
- Speaking of which, dear religious priests dressed in sterling white labcoats, you’re fucking naked. We can see right through your piece of shit models and your “research” scams. I hope you enjoy your last few years of government-supplied meals because your gravy train ain’t long for this world. [↩]
- Over the past 30 years, enrolment on campuses in Canada is growing ~5% per year despite shrinking demographics of University-aged people. It’s pretty nuts. And a clear sign that kids don’t know what the fuck else to do but pile on some debt and keep the high school party times going. When they can always move back home after they’ve graduated, why not? [↩]
- Poor people are addicted to computers because they’re endlessly entertaining. Wealthy people are addicted to them because computers magnify their productivity. [↩]
- For most sheep, their digital BFF is their smartphone. No wonder they want to make eye contact and get all touchy feely with it. [↩]
- This is a particularly pressing question for young parents. [↩]
- Computers are incredibly bad at telling that a cat is a cat or that a chair is a chair. They’re much better at brute-forcing their way into beating you at chess. [↩]
- Traveling in general can be considered item 2.5 on this list. Travel as much as you can afford, which, if you’re smart about it, is a shocking amount. Leaving the North American nest blatantly expose how exorbitant the costs of living are here. You can make $10 a day go pretty damn far in a great many interesting and beautiful places. [↩]
- Eg. The free DuoLingo or the eye-wateringly expensive Rosetta Stone. [↩]
- French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Latin itself are all viable options. French and Spanish have the most educational infrastructure in place, at least in North America. [↩]
- Saying “no” to desserts is a good start. Yes, that morning bagel with cream cheese is most definitely dessert. [↩]
- That is, in omnia paratus. [↩]
- Recognizing this is what it means to work from causes. Failing to recognize this leaves you with, at best, religion as your salvation. [↩]