Could I survive with just the shirt on my back? Could I ensure my family’s survival as well? These are questions I think about sometimes. In my weaker more reflective moments. Sometimes it would be easier to just turn off my brain, but unfortunately I haven’t found the switch yet. As the world advances it means that everyone’s skills just become more and more specialized. So there are bunch of men running around with certain skills, often skills that wouldn’t help if the infrastructures that exist today were to disappear.
For the man with excellent negotiating skills, I don’t think you could convince a deer to stay put while you devise a plan to harvest its meat to feed your family. For the man that programs computers, you cannot plug your keyboard into a tomato plant and tell it to grow a few tomatoes. We now have so many jobs where we manipulate non-physical things that the physical world is largely an unknown territory to us.
The infrastructures of energy, merchants, communication and protection all rely on this platform of man-made things that continues to run because most of the physical rules they were built on remain fairly consistent. But what if that changed? What if one day, electrons no longer danced the way they used to and now our power generators and distribution lines no longer allowed you to pull out your phone and read people’s whining on Facebook? How would you possibly know what people are unhappy about anymore? Or you couldn’t go to your freezer and pull out a Lean Cuisine that you put in the microwave for 3 minutes to enjoy a compilation of strange chemicals and a few food items that someone keep your body running?
Our lives have become so detached from the physical world that we kind of forget how to interact with it. Where people could walk outside and tell you if a cold front was coming in now we just look it up on one of the many different weather services, based on whichever one has the least amount of ads to swim through to find the content you are looking for.
And when we are disconnected from the physical world, we tend to think that we have defeated it. But when something major happens in the physical world, like an earthquake, we get really scared because the more disconnected we get from it, the more of a threat it is to us.
A few years ago, 5 tornadoes came through my area and did some damage that we aren’t used to. My family lost power for about a day and a half and it was crazy how much of an impact that had on our daily life. We chose to try and have some fun with it. I managed to make coffee by grinding up some coffee beans in a mortar and pestle and heating some water on the grill. It was so fun inventing a way to do that, and satisfying to accomplish it. But it was only fun as a short event. Permanently we settle into a convenient rhythm of life where we don’t tolerate having to do things this way.
No matter how you look at it, we are still dependent on nature, animals, plants, and water. We can innovate to our hearts content, which we never seem to reach, but in the end if these things change on us, we lose unless we really understand them. I don’t ever want to lose sight of the physical world and all the neat things it can offer that cannot be replicated somewhere on a screen.