Is this the best we can do?

This is a post that has been in the works for a while, even though I have not been able to find a way to frame it in a manner that is to my liking. It does not cover the usual tech/early stage/digital topics that I prefer to write about here. In a sense, it actually does cover all of them, but it goes a little bit further than that.

The time since June this year has really been quite an intense one, mostly thanks to a complete switch to focusing only on executing plans made over the past year. Somewhere in that time period I stopped logging into Twitter (I don’t have Facebook/G+ accounts other than ones I keep for work) to intensify the effort to get more done as I’m really prone to getting distracted easily. The idea also was to hit a few targets before I allowed myself to be active on Twitter. Some of those targets have been met, while others have not (that’s a post for later) and even though I have started lurking on-and-off on Twitter these days, something about the state of affairs in this very (digitally) social age bothers me.

The question that keeps coming back to me is: “Is this the best we can do?”

If you look at the history of mankind, this very moment that you are reading these words is the most enabled entire societies have been able to do good. A vast chunk of humanity carry in their pockets more computing power than what was available to an individual, irrespective of the money, even as recently as 50-years-ago. We have access to information, at practically zero cost, on our fingertips, the creation and access for which  tens and thousands have fought and died for in earlier times. We can connect and communicate with others, sitting half way across the globe, at the speed of light, while 50-years-ago, two-way-communication was still a marvel of technology that was accessible to a handful of people.

All of this should have made better people of us. We should have be more open, considerate and warmer towards our fellow beings. Yet, for how all of this should have enabled us, we only seem to have grown a stronger sense of entitlement. As people, we communicate more (actively and passively); yet, we are more isolated from each other than ever before. All this technology should enable governments to serve who they truly serve — the people — a lot better; yet, the same technology is being used to shackle people than to free them.

This, I must stress, is not a holier-than-thou exposition on my part. In the past months I have had fleeting episodes where I could set aside my own limitations, prejudices and conditioning to reflect on the life that I have lived and the values that I have lived by and it is not a pretty picture. I have often reveled in being sarcastic, dismissive and not doing even 1/10th of what I could really do. I am as much part of the problem as anyone else is and my disappointment is with myself as much as it is with anyone else.

We think of legacies as what we leave behind at a particular point in time. We are wrong in thinking that. Our legacy is what we create over a lifetime of individual moments. If we are not living the best lives we can live and be the best that we can be through most of our lives, chances are that our legacies are not what we would ideally have liked it to be. We also leave the fate of our legacies to circumstances, bosses, political leadership and and a million other factors, while the truth is that we are the only people who really control it, while anything else is just an excuse to shy away from doing what you say that needs to be done.

What is also lost in all the noise is that most of my generation is slowly progressing towards middle age. We are the age group that will determine where things go from here. Most of us are no longer twenty-year-old youngsters who really don’t wield much influence. A lot of us are in places and positions of influence and if we truly desire a world that is better, we should use that influence in a better manner than just sit on the sidelines lamenting how wrong things are.

And it need not even be about going out there and starting a revolution. It is about stepping up, taking the responsibility towards your immediate environment. Be nicer to people,  be more helpful. Help others succeed while you chart your own course for success. Be less negative and snarky. You have far more with you than what most others have and to get more you need to first learn to give more; not just that what can be touched, but also that cannot be touched.

At least, that is what I feel. That it is not enough to just want better things for myself, but also for the world around me and back it up with action. A first small step towards that for me is stop being negative, cranky and being proud of being an ass. In the end, for me, it is about using these great tools I have been provided with, in a better manner. Yes, the world usually uses these same tools in a negative manner, but I can choose to use the same things in a different way and that’s my first step small step.