Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm not making you read it.

I'm in a very weird mood, natural side effect I guess of watching a couple of episodes of Wilfred (ummm...) and then reading back over my old blog. I found what I was looking for though, which at least means I wont have to go through it again.

I think the key to happiness is not finding yourself, but realising you've been there all along. It's so much easier to look back on your actions in the past and go "That wasn't me, that was some silly ignorant immature little girl" and while that's true, she was also you, and while you keep denying what you've done you're also denying who you are.

Nonetheless, who I was was kinda unpleasant. If I could go back in time I would probably slap her. But I'm a better person now for not only having been a whiny little emo bitch, but for having the guts to admit that not only was I in the past, but somedays I still am.

I try quite hard to not be, and it's usually quite easy to get over it. There is simply so much amazing and interesting and beautiful stuff in the world that I feel guilty about wasting my time with sooking, but it's okay, because it's only happening because of the amazing connections firing in an amazing brain that has amazingly evolved over millions of years to make me who I am today. A female 20-something homo-sapien on a ball of rock and water, surrounded by gas, traveling through space at millions of miles an hour, accessing information at the speed of light through fibers made of glass, in a house wired to electricity made on a massive scale at huge factories, but which travels sedately into a laptop with a thousand times more processing power than the first space shuttle. A laptop made in a factory thousands of miles away, but which nonetheless plugs into my wall just fine. Which I use it to talk to people, thousands of miles away, who I may never meet. 500 years ago, they weren't even sure there were people on the other side of the world, now, instead, I'm sitting here wondering why the people on the other side of the world don't have Milo. Powdered chocolatey maltey goodness in a can. How can I be glum in a world where I can drive (!) a car made in Japan (!) at 100km/h (!) to a supermarket and buy myself a tin of Milo?

The car has been around for about 120 years now. Once, you would pay more than you would for a house, and it would be a dangerous, inefficient, uncomfortable way of getting about. But we've made progress, and now I can pop a sliver of metal into a slot in the interior of my safe, efficient, comfy interior and listen to the voices of those who are no longer with us, on my bitchin' stereo. There's thousands of parts that make up the sound system alone, and they all had to be thought up, and made and fitted together. And once they'd done all that, there had to be international supply networks to get it to me. And a global economy so I could shell out 14grand of my money and they could go home and have tea that night. Except, it wasn't 14k of my money, it was the bank's money and I'm gunna pay them back, at an agreed rate with fixed terms. Isn't that amazing? That we're all civilised enough to come up with interest rates? Once there was lawlessness and thieving. Now there is mortgage insurance.

It used to be that they thought that once you were going faster than a creature (a horse, since we still haven't learned how to ride cheetahs) could run, your brain wouldn't be able to keep up. They worried that steam trains would derail because the drivers wouldn't be able to cope at the high speeds. And now we let 16year olds drive tons of metal down highways covered in similarly sized metal pods, at very high speeds (by the standards of a horse) and while there are lots of injuries and fatalities, actually, there isn't many at all. Because we are all agreed, we drive on this side, at this speed, this light means this, this sign means that...

On the one hand, all this is boring, and mundane. On the other, it's amazing, fascinating and wonderous. Think what people 200, 100, even 50 years ago would think of the world today. We've hit the future and we didn't even realise it, But instead of marveling at it all, we whinge that the webpage is taking too long to load, that the car behind us is too close, that our fast food is too greasy/salty/sugary/flavourless. We do this because we are people, we've hit the lifestyle equivalent of 100km an hour and not only kept up, but exceeded it, just like we did when we first got on board the steam train. But we forget, when we flick a lightswitch, all the amazing things that have happened to illuminate our little spaces. But we shouldn't.

Arthur C. Clarke once said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

It's a beautiful soundbite, but it gets better:

"We can fly. We can turn fire to ice, and vice versa. We can talk to those on the other side of the world. We can make salt water drinkable. And we can change every being of how we look. We can save life. We can give life. We can take life. We can turn darkness to light. We can make that which is old, new. We can breathe under water, and we can touch the stars.
Tell me, is that not magical?"

So next time the whiny little sixteen year old you is forcing the rest of you to have a whiny little sixteen year old moment, take a moment to remember how damn magical it all is.

Because this message has come to you at the speed of light. And that seems pretty magical to me.

*Unintended nonsensical rant over. No offense is meant toward 16 year olds, no matter how whiny they may get, because it's not their fault. Hooray for science!*

And now, some XKCD comics.

Sorry. Sometimes nerdy comics explain it better than I can. And you gotta admit, Mickey is a pretty awesome song.


  1. So did you get top grades in your English writing class?

    In retrospect, 16 was a bad age for me. I thought I was so grown up only to find out later that I was just a kid. I was horrible at 16 and took a long time to grow out of it -- and there are some things (thoughts, actions, etc.) that I still don't seem to have outgrown. And there are some things I did at that age that can never been undone. and at the time I didn't consider the long term consequences. Hopefully, I've learned how to do that, at least a little.

    Technology really is amazing. I can't even begin to comprehend the science behind the light switch, much less all the other stuff I use every day.

    And on top of that, your blog was written tomorrow and I am somehow able to see it and respond to it today (your yesterday). Time travel.

    But when do we get the flying cars?

  2. I often wonder what my grandfather would make of all the technology that's developed since he died in 1973. I think he'd be completely lost. He thought jeans were only work clothes, so a computer would freak him out totally. Imagine if some poor soul from 100 years ago came back and saw how easy we have it now and all the modern conveniences.

    By the way we all go through a whiny emo stage . We also go through a stage where we all think we're highly individual while we wear exactly the same thing as all of our friends and copy everything our peer group does. It's called being a teenager. Then we grow up and cease to take ourselves so seriously. At least thats the way it worked for me. Except for the occasional days where I revert.

    Great post Sara.

  3. Great post but it's too late in the evening for me to be philosophical and write a coherent comment.
    I can remember being 16 and being a whiny pain in the arse, it's easy as I have a 17 yr old in the house, lol!
    I also remember when I was at school a long long time ago, and thinking what life would be like in 2000, in seemed so far into the future. Now that's 11 years in the past, whoa!