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Sleepless in Seattle: Technological Innovations & Existentialism

Around the end of June, I was able to go to Seattle with my fiance. I hadn’t flown in a plane since I was about 11 or 12, so this was an exciting time for me. Also, because the last time I “travelled” was when I was 16 and went to Atlanta. The lights from the downtown skyscrapers illuminated the city and I felt like I was in an actual metropolitan city. ¬
Keep in mind, I am from a metropolitan city. However, my hometown felt different from being in Seattle. It probably won’t make sense but, Seattle was like visiting a city in the future. The layout of the city just screamed: innovation.
I won’t bore my readers with the details of our adventures, so I’ll skip ahead to our visit to the Amazon Go store. For those that aren’t aware, it’s a grocery store that’s designed to eliminate standing in line at the check-out aisle. Instead, you just walk in, scan the barcode given to you from the Amazon Go app, and pick out whatever you want from the store, and leave. You place your items in a shopping bag and the item you’ve picked up connects to your phone and is automatically added to an online shopping cart (with your method of payment on file). Once you’ve picked up everything you’ve wanted, you just leave. Yes, just leave. Within moments, you get a notification from Amazon with a receipt of everything you just picked up.
There’s security cameras all around and an IT professional standing by for anyone who has questions. A majority of those questions were people asking, “so, after we pick up everything, we just leave? Like, just like that My fiancé and I were perplexed. We aren’t exactly the most tech savvy. I’m arguably more tech savvy than she is, cause I worked in Telecommunications for a year and have a lot of friends that are in IT.
Nonetheless, it felt like we were being given permission to shoplift, out in the open. My fiancé needed constant reassurance, asking, “are you sure? How does it just know?” But that’s just how it went. We walked around, picked up some beef jerky, a bottle of water, and walked out. It was awesome and revolutionary. I started to think about finally embracing the technological innovations that have come lately. Usually I’d write everything down on pen and paper, using my smart phone simply for texting, listening to music, and taking photos. Now, I’m using an app to keep my schedule in order, using Google Drive and the Cloud instead of keeping everything in folders and all these papers clogging up my file cabinets.
It was scary at first, to know that there was all this technology, algorithms learning who we are, etc. I haven’t fully immersed myself into technology because there are still things that freak me out, like self-driving cars or AI Robots. I-Robot has scarred me from that. However, despite this epiphany, there were still some melancholy thoughts keeping me up at night.
I’m not gonna lie, I had a lot of existential thoughts running through my head while I was in Seattle. My fiancé and I fell in love with the sights, the weather, the people, but our financial situation would be a hassle. Frankly speaking, learning that we wouldn’t be able to afford living in Seattle unless we struggled, was difficult for me to level with. I’d have to be a coder or work in IT in order to afford a place, and who knows if our apartment, or whatever, would even be that nice (or even safe).
I love writing and honestly, can’t picture myself doing anything else but sitting at my desk, in front of my laptop, thinking of things to write. Coming up with clever titles, sentences, and erasing shit that doesn’t make sense or just sound better in my head. However, for the first time I had a little doubt in my head about my career choice.
People always encouraged me about finding a career that would make me happy instead of worrying about money. They’d say, “find something you’re passionate about, and the money will come.” I always brushed those people aside. I hate to say it, but the people who say this aren’t typically coming from a place of poverty. They aren’t struggling to pay their bills and find a way to feed themselves.
And fortunately, I’m not in such a place at the moment. Alhamdullillah. I’ve been blessed with great friends, a wonderful fiancé, and family who are there for me to make sure I don’t end up in that metaphorical pit of despair. I am graciously fortunate to be able to go to school, have a job at that school, and pay my bills and have a little bit leftover for myself. It’s not as much money as I’d like it to be, but these are the prices we pay for being in Grad school.
At the end of my last semester, one particular evening, I was grading some papers online, listening to some Malcolm X speeches, and eating Ramen noodles. Hours earlier, I had oved the last of my belongings to my new home, got the internet set up, turned in my final paper for the semester, written an article for a news organization I was interning for, and at the end of the day, had two huge stacks of papers, waiting to be graded and send back to students. I remember in that very moment, feeling genuine happiness at being in that position. Something about, writing, grading, listening to powerful speeches, and even eating the noodles—I felt like a real Grad student. In other words, I had reached what I wanted to achieve at this point in my life: be a Grad student.
Therefore, I think despite whatever thoughts were going through my head during my time in, and after leaving Seattle, they’ve finally passed. I mean, nothing has changed just yet. I’m still struggling a little, financially. However, there’s something about the future, with all our technological innovations that have surprised us all, maybe, just maybe, everything will work itself out in the end. It can be scary to think about, not knowing what’s up ahead. However, we can’t be afraid of something that may or may not happen. In the meantime, let’s just all try and get some rest and hope for a better tomorrow.

-Mr. Writer

Written on the 30th of July, 2018 at 12:30 PM

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