People Becoming Computers and Death

Well tickle my tongue with sugar and call me a Twizzler, happy Sunday to ya! We’re just a couple of weeks away from the NFL starting so to honor the beginning of football season I’ve decided to go out and get a concussion. I have CTE now, so… the blog might be a little incoherent.

Anyways, I had a thought recently. Just one. No more, no less. I was thinking about how people are often talking about artificial intelligence and the concerns they have with a robot possibly becoming conscious and what that would mean for the fate of humanity, BUT I have a different concern.

I feel like the opposite is happening. I’m noticing a lot of people are beginning to act like computers and essentially forfeiting their own consciousness. Something I love about living in Austin is interacting with all sorts of interesting people from different backgrounds who are very conscious, which gives me a ton of hope for humanity.

At the same time, I know there’s a silent majority of people I’m not meeting whose lives are run by fear and whose actions are dictated by habit. I’ve had three roommates in a row that almost never leave the apartment. Maybe it’s just chance the three random people I’ve ended up living with are all similar in that way, but I doubt it. My sense is that as a society we’re growing more and more comfortable with being well… comfortable.

It’s a scary thing. How many of us are just a letter on a keyboard waiting to be struck? Who amongst us is so afraid to venture through the world that we’d rather waste another day stuck between the drywall? What percentage of the world is a slave to their own limited perspective?

I was having an interesting discussion a couple of nights ago with my neighbor, who grew up in Egypt and lived in the United Arab Emirates and Canada before moving to the United States, so he’s been exposed to a lot of different cultures and people in his life. I was telling him how my roommate (who is Korean) is so quiet that it makes me uncomfortable, and he said that in most Asian cultures they’re taught to respect the other and want to make sure they’re not bothering anyone.

It helped to get a better understanding of how people from different cultures might act, but it also got me thinking about obedience and loss of personal freedom. I worry about any culture prioritizing obedience as a virtue. If you’re taught to always do what you’re told, how are you any different than the keyboard I’m typing on or the video game you’re playing before bed? You’re just a potential action waiting to be directed.

That was the most concerning thing to me about the pandemic. People, on a global scale, just waiting to be told what to do. Then, even if it made no sense whatsoever, we did it. We wore a mask by ourselves outside in the park, we wore a mask into a restaurant and then took it off when we sat down, because COVID can obviously only spread when you’re walking to your table and not when you’re sitting at it. Most of us knew it was ridiculous and made no sense, but we did it anyway.

What was the driving force behind our obedience? Fear. Most of us are so afraid to die that we forget to live. Something I like about stoic philosophy is that you’re supposed to think about your death every day. It’s inevitable. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. We’re all going to die. WE’RE ALL GONNA DIIIEEEEE!!!

My neighbor said something that stuck with me in regards to this the other night when we talked about stoicism. He said that you think about your death every day so that when you do eventually die, you can say “I gave it everything I have. I have no regrets.” That right there is what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of lying on my death bed and realizing I’ve wasted my life. Death doesn’t scare me, but that does.

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian from Northern California. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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