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What is the "New Normal?"
And how science says it can be a whole lot of different things
What will the future look like?
Do you remember the TV show, “The New Normal” about a happy LGTBQIA couple with everything going their way, and seeking a baby, but suffered many drawbacks in the surrogacy process especially with their surrogates conservative grandmother? The show was mostly a flop with some critics calling it “at best nominally progressive” and playing into stereotypes. Unsurprisingly, the show was canceled after a season. The show failed to capture what the new normal actually is, and one could argue only further pushed back efforts towards a more kind, inclusive future.
We’re struggling to come to terms or even identify what our “New Normal” will look like. Will we handshake again? Will weddings on Zoom become a normal thing? Will we all just turn into hermits after this all? But first, let’s break into the science — why is it so hard to predict what’s going to happen? And when we are trying to predict what’s going to happen — why does it always look so… bleak?
Checking those Futurism style articles
One of my favorite things to study in the history of arts and culture is the Futurism movement. Originally birthed in Italy in the early 20th century, we focused on speed, technology, violence, youth, and technological advancements such as industry, cars, airplanes, and automobiles. It was an artistic movement often associated with artist Robert Fox, blending arts and sciences. Unfortunately, like many things that sound good on paper, it’s often got some dark tenets to it.
When we set out to predict the future we think of how we want to make things better. Its been done time and time again throughout history. (Think of the whole romanticism movement and utopias), but more often than not it feels like things turn more dystopic. It’s easy to think of worst-case scenarios, because anything ending up in a positive solution, seems, well too good to be true.
“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” Murphy’s Law states. And while sometimes it feels that way, I appreciate the thought that author and researcher, James Clear takes on this whole matter - through entropy.
In a post on his site, he describes the following:
“Imagine that you take a box of puzzle pieces and dump them out on a table. In theory, it is possible for the pieces to fall perfectly into place and create a completed puzzle when you dump them out of the box. But in reality, that never happens.
Quite simply, because the odds are overwhelmingly against it. Every piece would have to fall in just the right spot to create a completed puzzle. There is only one possible state where every piece is in order, but there are a nearly infinite number of states where the pieces are in disorder. Mathematically speaking, an orderly outcome is incredibly unlikely to happen at random.”
Order is largely unpredictable. Just think, if I told you all 10 years ago, that we’d have a reality TV show president, and be facing a virus that is causing us all to stay indoors, would you believe me? If you didn’t look then 16-year-old Erin she’s lost every last marble, I’d be shocked.
Nothing escapes these laws of physics or even our good friend mathematics. We see this unfolding in front of us, and it feels like society is collapsing at large, but yet - we still try to predict the unpredictable. There’s an entire science publication about the science of predicting the future, and about a million news articles of “what can we expect after COVID-19” and while we as a society would like to have the answer, as history shows us, these are just large educated guesses. And sometimes the educated guesses make the same tragic flaws of the original futurism movement.
The movement heralded invention, modernity, speed, disruption. Shiny new things. Heck, the first tenet of the original futurist manifesto reads, “We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.” the 1909 manifesto is filled with other gems, and their blatant disregard for history “Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible?” — sound much like something that could have come out of Silicon Valley at one point.
This “church of speed and violence” had a blatant disregard for anything that even appeared to hinder innovation, and this led them down the dark road to fascism. As technologists, and tech-savvy individuals, we need to practice studying the history, or dare we be doomed to repeat it. It is my hope that we take stock in history, math, and science during this time and commit to not making the same mistakes the futurists once did.
People that need to develop better hobbies instead of spouting off on the internet
Remember the adage that people building probably aren’t the ones doing the talking? I’m reminded this as I read headlines about certain individuals and reward myself for saying ‘No’ to projects previously I would have agreed to. Needless to say, there’s been a few big OOF’s online I can’t get out of my head, and I’ve dropped them below,
Kanye West was on the cover of GQ, and I’m still unamused. He has some large vision for the future and is apparently building a testing ground in Wyoming (add to reasons that leave me wondering if rural America is OK right now — seriously, send a signal, y’all ok?)
Elon Musk for a whole bunch of different reasons. From ordering the wrong dang machines, then it being overall questionable if they were actually delivered, which like, bro I get you’re trying to help and be useful, but maybe sit this one out? donate funds? maybe help another way? Oh, btw — he is still planning to go forth with the Space X launch, which — is pretty cool, but I just wish he’d focus energy here, or maybe rehearsing his speeches once (remember the broken window incident).
most individuals at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., especially the dude who cut off Dr. Fauci and still cannot manage to learn how to at least blend his Cheeto makeup.
Coronavirus is driving celebrities to Cameo in droves — but some influencers are really struggling. It will be interesting to see where this all evolves to — will influencer marketing die off? Or will we actually care about industry experts vs. who can post pretty latte photos with millennial pink?
On this week’s reminder to take care of your technical debt, here’s a story about retired programmers being paid to fix government systems that were never updated.
I’ve discovered poolside.fm is the perfect background music to my WFH life, so go send yourself to a sweet sweet boogie paradise.
I received one of the best gifts ever for Christmas this past year, a split keyboard better designed for typing and hand use — which has me thinking of upgrading other things as I’m working from home like my computer mouse.
That’s all for this week, stay safe and sane in these times. In the meantime see you on the internet my dudes!
In other news. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what to do with this community and reflecting a lot on how fortunate I am in this crisis to have health, employment, etc. And I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a good situation. I’m currently working on a few things up my sleeve with @MikeMoDesigns, so you should probably follow him. In the meantime, help me help out small businesses and nonprofits — I’ve created a special swag store where I’m kicking back 20% to those who need it. check that out here.