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Synapse #4: What to Live For, Technology's Role in Life

Synapse #4: What to Live For, Technology's Role in Life

What to Live For

Why should I live? Why would I want to get out of bed in the morning? What do I want my life to be about? What should I do with my life?

These are some of the most important questions you can ask yourself, and taking the time to find answers for them will have a great impact on how you feel day to day.

I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life and am truly enjoying it. It’s not what I expected at all from a book about rules, because there’s such a whirlwind of stories, topics, questions, answers and advice that Peterson throws around and flows between like it’s nothing. I’ve got so many Kindle bookmark clips that had to buy the book on paper to just be able to have a proper go at taking the best passages to summarize.

Reading this will help you hone in on the most fundamental questions, and the instant you hear them you’ll think “well yes that’s a truly foundational question, why have I never thought this through?” Then Peterosn takes you through some of his answers, equally deceptively straightforward.

Being a good citizen and role model

This is a hard and noble target to aim your life towards: being a good member of society. Being kind to yourself and others, bringing value and happiness to the table, leaving the world in a better place than you left it.

I don’t feel like I have some kind of “life goal” at this moment, and that has been a source of frustration for years. What I’ve come to realize now is that you can act like you have a life goal nontheless. Because everything we do, affects those around us and it’s up to us to make sure that happens positively. We don’t need a lofty overarching goal to realize that our life really is consequential, and to act like a role model. People are watching us, it’s time to step up.

Realizing potential

Could there be a higher goal? Well yes. You can love your life and yourself and want to become more of what you are.

This is the story that lifts you even further and turns you into a striver.

This is what will make you choose the road of rigor because you know that the hard work makes you stronger. And becoming stronger is good.

Filling fulfillment

I’m not talking about “work work” here. I’m talking about taking your life and figuring out what’s important and making changes so that what’s important, improves. Giving friends a random call to bond with them, strongly but lovingly telling your partner when they’re not treating you as highly as they should, deciding to start regularly working out because even though it can be tough it has a ton of positive effects on your well-being.

By far the most important thing I’ve learned about meaning and fulfillment in life is that it’s a practice. Really. The moment I started paying more attention when I was in a beautiful moment, when I started rewinding at the end of the day to the great things that happened, and when I picked events throughout the week that I found meaningful, my general sense of happiness started going up dramatically.

Refining Technology’s Role in My Life and Reflecting It

I’ve been trying to figure out what role I want technology to play in my life. Obviously as a software engineer I’m surrounded by and working on the computer all the time. But I do want to strongly reject some aspects of technology: I want to control it, not let it control me. So that’s rejecting the Matrix of social scrolling, being tethered to instant messaging and the obsession with virtual validation.

This thinking made me find my Automators’ Manifesto again, and even seven years later it rings true to me. I’m thinking of reviving it, giving it a better title and refining it to be more explicitly about a philosophy of using technology in life. The name “automator” was meant to mean “someone who automates stuff” but I feel that’s too restricting for this piece.

It’s also been playing into my revived interest in cyberpunk, where I saw the classics Ghost Runner, the mangas Akira and Ghost in the Shell (also the new one). And I’m trying make this philosophy more visible in the way I dress. The techwear community is a great inspiration here: it’s people interested in high-tech garments (weather-resistant and comfortable fabrics, cuts that allow more freedom of movement, etc.) that focus a lot on function but also want to show is in the form of what they’re wearing.

I’m drawn to these ideas because I feel like most people around me are more optimistic about and accepting of all of technology, while I want to emphasize how human connection is still primary and how all of technology should be a tool that works for us. Hopefully, futuristic clothing reminds people to think about technology’s role and meaning in their life. And if not that’s okay, they’re just cool too.