Change has never happened this fast before, and it will never be this slow again.
There’s just one week before we head out of Sydney on our Toyota Coaster bus adventure and as I finished work last Friday, I am now officially unemployed. Although I guess, as it is by choice, I should say that I just don’t work. But that makes it sound like I should be lunching in places with white table cloths with friends from the board of a women’s charity. And of course that would be whilst wearing a pearl necklace and a fetching blouse. However, lunch yesterday was a banana and high protein yoghurt that had been reduced as it was close to the best before date, while wearing baggy shorts covered in paint and a bandana, so that’s not the case here.
To be honest, my first week out of the rat race hasn’t been the relaxing mental spa break I was expecting. I have never been a great sleeper, and I consider getting more than a total of 4 hours a night as living the actual dream. The slightest problem at work, issue in my personal life or memory of a conversation that could have been done better can keep me awake all night. The number of times I’ve gone to work able to count the minutes of sleep, rather than the hours of sleep I’ve had the previous night are really up there. If I could change one thing about myself it would be being able to sleep well. That might surprise some of my friends who are would no doubt say, ‘Really Kate, you wouldn’t make yourself taller, or slimmer, or less of a twat when you’re pissed?’. But no, more sleep is the goal.
And now I have nothing to worry about. Life is great. I don’t have a job, so no stresses there. As far as I’m aware my personal life is awesome. Another tick. We’re about to go on a huge adventure that I’ve been waiting to start for over a year. Tick tick. Now what is keeping me awake is the fact that I don’t have a job. Who the hell doesn’t have an income at the age of 33? Perhaps people whose partners earn a shit-ton of money and can support their other halves. But my other half also finishes her job next week when the school year ends. “What on earth are we doing?”, I’ve thought as I’ve lay in bed the last week. (On the first night I was too drunk to think anything – perhaps that’s the answer…).
So I’ve found myself with an extra 8 hours a night to ponder on what on earth it is we are doing. Quitting our jobs, buying a bus, driving around Australia and spending our savings. About what it will mean for us now, and for Future Kate and Jot. Present Kate has a long history of screwing over Future Kate. Be it by spending all her money as soon as payday comes, getting drunk on the eve of a big day, or getting a parma instead of a salad, Present Kate is the bane of Future Kate’s existence.
Apart from being eaten by a crocodile or getting lost and having to become bush women for the rest of our lives, one of my big worries about doing this year of exploring Australia, is that the space I work in, (advertising/ content marketing/ sales) will change so much that I’ll find it hard to catch up when I get back. Thus Present Kate will have had the best year of her life, but Future Kate will be, well, fucked. And the poor girl may never work again.
Everyone knows that the world is on the cusp of a hell of a lot of change. We can all see it happening right in front of our eyes; in politics with Trump blowing the starting whistle for another World War, in the environment with the increased frequency of natural disasters and in the tech space where new gadgets and apps that infiltrate our day to day lives are released by the second. On behalf of Future Kate changes in technology are what I expect to effect me the most.
Recently I’ve taken to trying to spend less time connected. A while ago my partner and I tried a ‘phones at the door’ rule, after one of us finally snapped when the other was scrolling through Facebook rather than listening to the days debrief. That lasted about a month.
I went out to dinner solo the other day and as I walked in, I made myself the promise that I wasn’t allowed to look at my phone. As I didn’t have a book with me all I could do was good old fashioned looking around me. But I think I scared the lady and her two kids across the sushi train from me when I kept laughing and reacting to their conversations.
I try not to be part of the ‘head down’ squad on public transport and have taken to looking up at people (which they are of course head-down oblivious to) or out the window watching the world go by and taking note of my surroundings. Listening to content, rather than reading it has been my recent solution. So my headphones are either filled with the deep and meaningful lessons in the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack, or my favourite podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno (which everyone should listen to).
I’m worried that people are going to evolve to have bent necks and not be able to speak or hold a pen. Even kids now can use an iPad before they can talk. But even that’s not what scares me most. What scares me most isn’t the tech objects themselves. It’s what we are all looking at and how automated and prescribed everything we interact with is becoming.
New technology is changing the human race continuously and quickly. It is getting smarter and smarter and because of data this, and algorithm that, it knows you. It knows who you are in terms of how old you are, who you date, who your friends are, where you’re going on your next holiday, where you shop, what size you are, when you get paid, what you get paid, how often you work out, what you had for dinner last night, where you had dinner last night and where you’re having dinner tonight.
So now we are being fed content. We might not realise it but the things were are reading and engaging with are being put in front of us for us to digitally trip over. Like to travel? Then let’s throw all this travel content at you, whether it is on a travel specific site or not. And of course marketing is smart and it works, so before you know it you are starting to plan yet another trip.
Outdoor advertising is becoming smarter too. Ever seen Minority Report where Tom Cruise is welcomed into Gap because the billboard recognises him? That’s just around the corner. It will know your size, your style and before you know it you’ll be walking out of the store with a new sweater that you haven’t had to try on as smart technology in the mirror replicated your shape and face so you could see what it looks like on you. And it is probably similar to what you went in wearing.
Now that I have written a blog post that’s probably longer than my dissertation (hey, I did Fine Art), I’ll finally get to my point. Will we stop deciding things for ourselves I wonder? We’ll think that we decided to buy that jumper and book that trip because that’s how marketing works. But did we just book or buy them because they were in front of us? Because data knew that info about us? So, where we’ll just get served this “relevant” content over and over will we just become really extreme versions of ourselves?
Smart fridges will be programmed to tell us when we have run out of something. Restaurants similar to where we have already been will market to us as they know the type of cuisine that we prefer. So will we just eat the same things over and over, rather than trying anything new?
Dating apps will know our type. So will we just be paired with the people whose data matches our requirements? Rather than meeting that unlikely person who at first glance wasn’t your usual type.
Will our profile match with a certain type of real estate agents or developers requirements and we’ll end up in a block filled with similar versions of ourselves? Think Stepford Wives and not having any diversity around you and hopefully that’s not a welcome scenario.
Anyone who has watched any episodes of Black Mirror will know what I am talking about. And everyone should watch that. Once you’ve listened to My Dad Wrote A Porno.
So personalisation, everything tailored for you. I think it will be a bit good but very bad.
And that’s why I’m looking forward to getting away from it. Having a bit of a technology break and driving to where even Telstra can’t connect us to all the babble. Hitting the road and seeing the country. Talking to real people and experiencing things first hand rather than via Pinterest and Instagram. But I wonder where the world will be up to, and how we’ll fit back in when we return. This is what I worry about while I lay in bed unable to sleep now.
And yes the irony that I’ve created more unnecessary noise and content hasn’t escaped me.
Thanks for reading my rambles.