It’s time to escape the Matrix
It’s a long story
Things started to go downhill for mankind around 12,000 years ago. Some bright spark worked out how to domesticate seed and thus began our foray into the world of genetics. More recently, we domesticated animals, thus further exerting our dominance over our fellow cohabitants.
These agriculture revolutions enabled us to produce surpluses and thus introduce some level of predictability into our largely very uncertain lives. Starvation was always on our minds, but up until then we operated solely on an ‘eat what you kill/forage’ basis.
Security isnt cheap
This increase in security came at a price for many of our ancestors. The majority became labourers. The more entrepreneurial of our ancestors became farmers. A class system had emerged. And thus the third and most significant of the domestications took place, that of humans.
This domestication was boosted by the industrial revolution. We left the villages and the land to become cogs in the factory machine. Over time the economic benefits to the workers grew to the point where they had discretionary income and could thus move from simply living to having a lifestyle. Society was architected to ensure that this lifestyle required consumption of goods and services, thus boosting the industrial era factory model. The first example of the cyclic economy?
The Matrix – No need to audition
Even though today the factories are largely furnished and the conveyor belts are replaced by data flows, the model is still thriving. I posit that the factory model, and the societal model that supports, it is in fact the Matrix, as depicted in that iconic science fiction film of the same name.
This Matrix is something that we have accepted and even complied with throughout our lives, though some of us have had a sense of misgiving about the nature of our existence. Perhaps today you play the role of Agent Smith in respect of censuring others for deviant behaviour? For example:
- The parent who pressures their child to embark on a socially admirable career, as opposed to capitalising on their passion and natural skills.
- The boss who actively thwarts change and discourages diversity of thought, or even thought.
- The teacher who terrorises the young students into sitting still, despite their human need to move.
Whilst the Matrix has created economic benefit for many, the price we have paid for this is our humanity. We are naturally mobile, curious and creative. You might even conclude that the Matrix has genetically mutilated us so that we would fit neatly and compliantly into the factory machine.
The media has convinced many of us that we are not enough and thus need to consume and seek validation from others. We don’t dare stop to reflect as we might discover that our life purpose boils down to having a slightly better car than our neighbour. This isn’t what Mark Twain had in mind when he said:
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
Hit me again!
So as I have mentioned in earlier posts, you have been deceived and harmed. You have also been kept distracted to minimise the cognitive capacity available to reflect on the pointlessness of it all. The emotion architects of Silicon Valley have turned your smartphone into a phantom limb that serves as a neurotransmitter dispenser. Humanity is almost part organic and part Las Vegas casino. Perhaps this push to have us live increasingly digital lives is an attempt to completely subsume us into the digital and thus programmable world (the digital matrix)?
So not only are we being exploited in the workplace, but we are also exploited in our free time. This is not the model I want to handover to the next generation. To a large extent, this situation has given me the opportunity to play Morpheus in my professional life.
You need a friend
Over the last 12 thousand years, we have built skyscrapers, sent people to the Moon and condensed the world’s knowledge and wisdom into a portable device. Yet most of us feel stressed, depressed and increasingly suicidal. By joining the factory, we thought we were trading time for security. Today we are trading it for anxiety. In any case, whilst security and comfort are appealing, I would say they are the fast track to extinction.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, as a species we are arrivistes, an evolutionary experiment, something of a prototype.
The true elders of the planet, and that includes sponges, jellyfish and cyanobacteria, must be bewildered by our avarice. They are unlikely to be upset if we bring about our own demise. I am sure they have seen it happen several times during the Earth’s history [Citation needed!].
Last chance saloon
But it would appear that we are being given one last chance. As mentioned in my previous post, Disruption has come to save us. More specifically, Disruption has come to destroy the Matrix. It’s like a fight between two ‘transformers’, where you know one is rooting for you. Our Optimus Prime is going ‘mano a mano’ with the Matrix’s Megatron.
Covid-19 is just one element of disruption. It is of course unwelcome, but it is forcing us to rethink our work and lives. Of course we have concerns about our loved ones and paying the bills. But clinging onto your job by working maniacally to cling onto the luxury car that just about gains you admittance into the exclusive country club is no way to live. And unless you are one of the puppeteers, and not simply a high performing puppet, you are simply dragging your family through undue stress to enjoy the derision that comes with not truly being a member of the club.
So I strongly suggest you use this time of uncertainty to reflect on your predicament. And by the way, Disruption is still in its tracksuit. What we are seeing today is simply a warm up for what is to come. Buckle up. What adjustments can you make to reduce your stress and the stress of those around you and thus be in a better mental place to face the increasing turbulence?
The Matrix is driving anxiety and in turn incivility. This is not good for our communities, the communities that are tasked with sating our appetite for affordable goods, or the planet.
Sort out your portfolio
Fundamentally our lives are an exercise in portfolio management. Our portfolio comprises freedom, money and impact. The Matrix has manipulated us into overinvesting in money. Shifting our focus to impact (ie. executed purpose), we might find that whilst we have lost our security, we have found true freedom.
This is also an opportunity for business and societal leaders to reflect on building organisations and societies that play to our natural characteristics, create value and are, most importantly, sustainable.
** BREAKING NEWS: The Matrix 4 was scheduled for release in December 2021. However, Disruption has successfully pushed it back …. **