Life is a Playground, So Shut Down Your Predictable Factory

Life is meant to be a playground of possibility. This is how technology helps us access this playground while moving away from routine.

Any change goes against your routine, habitual self. And whenever that happens, the old claws back like crabs in a bucket. Change is tough.

It is tough on the individual enacting it as well as the society.

Individual change, like waking up earlier, probably won’t greatly impact society. I am talking about another level of change — the type that will knock society up from its slumber.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn calls this change a “paradigm shift.”

A paradigm shift is when something truly innovative enters into society and like an earthquake, shakes the status quo. As if society was routine and habitual, a paradigm shift make this state no more. This may be uncomfortable so it takes society a few months, years, and sometimes decades to catch up. Here are a few examples of paradigm shifts that society didn’t initially accept:

  • The heliocentric model of the solar system
  • Semmelweis
  • The Airplane

Can you think of something innovative in the last 30 years which caused a paradigm shift?

Chances are you thought of this, the Internet.

Although the internet didn’t take too long for people to accept and adopt as a tenet of modern life, there was one innovation which seemed fruitless to me at first. It was a smartwatch. I thought, “Why on earth would you need a watch like the phone in your pocket?”

Then after a while, I bought a smartwatch.

Accepting Change As The New Normal

Individuals largely operate habitually.

COVID caused us to dawn the fashionable face masks that would make even the Rock appear anonymous. Then, we took them off. The status quo remains a thing because we never think to question it.

However, Ignaz Semmelweis did.

He was an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures and advised doctors to wash their hands. They didn’t do that at the time. Think how absurd that sounds! This shows you how massive a paradigm shift occurred around germs in hospitals. Now we have hand sanitizer at every corner and in our holster ready to deploy the minute we touch a door handle.

In 1847 the story was different. Hospitals were more infectious and that was the status quo. Remember, germs existed, but they didn’t exist in the minds of 19th-century folks. Semmelweis proposed that doctors should wash their hands in chlorinated water. The result: maternal mortality dropped from 98.4 deaths per 1000 births to 12.7!

Since Semmelweis didn’t have theoretical proof to back up his findings, they were neglected by the medical community. This is an example of the collective routine overriding systemic change. And it gets worse…

Semmelweis was mocked by doctors, suffered from a nervous breakdown, and sent to an asylum where he was beaten by the guards. He died 14 days later from a wound on his right hand. I guess the asylums had no clue about antiseptics either.

The change Semmelweis proposed was accepted only years after his death. Louis Pasteur came up with the theoretical backing, calling it “germ theory.” Joseph Lister took charge of implementing the antiseptic technique that is used today all over the world in hospitals and laboratories.

Pasteur and Lister got the credit, but it was ultimately Semmelweis who had the guts to shake up the status quo.

Factories vs. Playgrounds

COVID turned most households into factories as we mostly did the same thing indoors every day.

Factories optimize outputs with a constant stream of the same inputs. In the same way, humans fall into routine. We habitually revolve around the same thoughts, beliefs, and emotions which lead to the same actions.

Routines are important for structuring your day and optimizing your life. However, their rigid nature goes against innovation. 

When life feels too much like a factory, turn it into a playground.

The world is meant to be a playground in your twenties.

Sadly, I was living like it was a factory.

So, I had to shake up my inputs.

The quickest route to do this is through technology. Yes, the same technology that is the culprit for making life too routine and comfortable. Technology is a tool. You can use it to build a factory or a playground — or both!

Technology as a Playground

We can find new people, and experiences, and create things with technology. We can go on an adventure. Or we could let technology use us and do the same thing with it every day: scroll…

Factories are synonymous with repetitive motions and mine was the one thumb finger scroll.

The opposite of this is treating technology as the entry point to the world’s playground. Technology grants us access because it has the potential to shake up our inputs in numerous ways. Routines keep us running the same program in our heads. New situations shake us free from this.

Technology exposes us to new situations in 2 ways:

  • Through skill learning
  • Through meeting new people

And the little piece of metal in our pockets has the potential to break us free into the world’s playground.

Routines have their place in everyone’s life.

When life feels too routine like it did for me, my motto became MAKE LIFE INTERESTING.

And for that, thank you technology!

The Rules of Play

I loved sandbox mode in video games.

Sandbox mode in a game like Minecraft consists of creating without limits.

Within the bounds of baseline morality, you are free to explore life in sandbox mode.

Our ancestors did this through hunting. Hunting was survival and entertainment coupled into one, never-ending thrill. I am both jealous of and grateful to not hunt for my food.

Nowadays we can satisfy this urge through technology.

I’ve never been hunting, but I’d imagine that it’s like a game of American Football. There’s always something new you haven’t seen before when you watch American Football. Technology allows us to encounter new situations like this — we just have to seek them.

So the next time you think of the same old scroll and check your email routine, shake things up and seek new situations to put yourself into. I’d love some ideas to try, so please comment on ways you creatively use technology to expose yourself to new inputs.

Our ancestors evolved from being hunters into farmers.

Farmers are predictable. They rely on the meticulous application of the same inputs to get the same result year in and out. ADHD research classifies people along the spectrum of hunter traits vs. farmer traits. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.

Some people find joy and flow in life through cultivating routine. Others need a wild grizzly to cross their path consistently.

I need a balance of both.

#sparkperception


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