How Can the World Be Getting Better and yet We Feel More Trapped Than ever?

Ryan Yan
3 min readNov 23, 2020
Bill Oxford — Unsplash

I was just watching a video about how anti-friction bearings work in a car engine and I suddenly had a wonderous feeling of all of the cumulative knowledge and labor that has gone into producing this essential piece of machinery.

Which is the complete opposite of how I typically feel about technology on a daily basis. Usually, I think about all the ways the bombardment of notifications from our devices keeps us from ever really relaxing. Whether it’s a work email, a notification on a hobby board you frequent, someone follows you on Medium, you are constantly being called by our technology to act, and contribute. I hate it. I think it drains the joy out of life, and coerces us from thinking for ourselves, and caring about what we care about, into thinking “what does society, what do my twitter and instagram followers” want from me? And slowly you alter your behavior to be those things, instead of just yourself.

Remember when you were a kid, and you could just spend the whole afternoon drawing? You weren’t thinking about how to turn that drawing into an online presence so you could sell prints and make a living off of it.

Look, I get it, you work a 9–5 and you do art on the side. You wish you could do it as your main gig and that’s why every waking moment is spent trying to make that happen. Sometimes that hustle can be beautiful, sometimes not. Sometimes it feels like the grind is killing your love of the craft. Maybe you could just accept working an okay job and let go of the urge to turn every little seed of an idea into a possible business venture that would take you out of the rat race and let you do what you want in peace?

— ( Not that you even cared to be a business mogul in the first place, but you’ve read enough biographies about entrepreneurs you feel like you need to do it or you’ll have wasted your talent. )

And after all of that, finally, maybe you could actually enjoy all the wonderous stuff that humanity has created and society has to offer you.

Sorry, that part about the biographies was a bit of an aside for myself to be quite honest.

But back to my point… in this day and age, despite our material wealth and technological progress, I think beneath it all we’re slaves more than ever.

Even those of us fortunate enough to have made it can’t even enjoy it because they‘re psychologically shackled to our society’s compulsion to keep producing.

Cut the ties. Cut the wires that pull you in and force to you do things you don’t care about. Family, freedom, genuine exploration of our passions. That’s what makes us happy. Cut out the bullshit.