How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow, went to work, and found out that you were no longer needed?
Imagine that a robot has been stationed to complete your tasks. Let’s say its name is 247 because, unlike you, who works ten hours a day 5 times a week, the robot can work 24/7. Plus it never gets sick, never has period cramps, or loses someone in the family. The robot also has no functions that make it complain, gossip, go out for coffee breaks, or stalk their ex boyfriends on Facebook.
Your boss says, “You know I like you and I know how much effort you put into this job. But we’ve decided to part ways with you because we feel that 247 is much more suitable in terms of our company’s performance standards.”
Those strong and capable women working in laundry factories year in and year out who thought they were irreplaceable until the invention of the washing machine; or the meticulous accountants who found themselves jobless due to a computer program are not so different from the scenario above. Human history is also the history of laboriously learned talents replaced by millions of newly developed abilities and inventions. Alas, upon hearing about the invention of motor vehicles, the man who drove a horse drawn carriage in 1876 probably recommended that his son not miss out on this ‘guaranteed and vital’ career opportunity. In the 50s and 60s, mothers probably encouraged their daughters to work at the switchboard or as a typist.
What makes us lose our job, established order, and comfort doesn’t always have to be technological. Which civil servant would have thought on their first day, where they felt blessed to have gained a job position in the state, that due to the recent political events, they would find themselves in an entirely different place than their ‘secure’ jobs and ‘very solid’ retirement plans promised?
But one of life’s most important things is still our children’s grades, exam scores, success rate in school, and that they have a decent and secure job. While we’re wondering what’s going to happen during next week’s episode of our favorite TV show, the world is changing rapidly. It’s being reshaped by people who perceive life quite differently than us, and more than just perceiving, minds that are actively doing things to create and recreate things anew. And so, our ideals, which rely on outdated beliefs about education and success, promise the world to our children while in reality we’re stumbling through the dark with a tiny flashlight that only sheds light upon our next step in a giant forest.
Maybe we can fool the kids, but do we really believe this ourselves?