The first major lesson for 2020 that comes to my mind is that we, as Canadians, have to focus on our own back yard and our own identity first. Our cities are ethnically and culturally diverse, our next door neighbor is the United States, and many of us travel around the world and then come back with so many new ideas and impressions. For all the good things we get from all this, we tend to fall prey to a spillover of issues and battles that do not concern us nearly as much as they concern the places where these issues and battles originate. 2019 saw many new international movements, sentiments, activism and so much more. The problem with the international nature of these is that they don't care about how much gravity a particular issue has in a certain country, as well as different regions of any one country. For example, you need to live in Canada's North or at least visit some parts of it in the winter to truly understand that it is very difficult to be environmentally friendly when the environment- or rather climate- is completely against you. "in Soviet Russia, climate changes you!" Another example is about all the social justice activism that has gone international. The message seems to be the same everywhere; activism does not look at country to country or regional differences. Instead, it is mostly about blanket statements and refusal to debate and talk things out until we find real actionable solutions. This approach goes nowhere because if we work hard on a social issue, we want to be recognized for our achievements. Then, if outsiders come and tell us we did nothing or not enough, failing to recognize what we have done so far, it will do nothing except aggravate us and make us not want to cooperate. Finally, there is the problem of popular politics from other countries spilling over into Canada. Sure, USA politics are really interesting to watch and follow, but as it spills over into Canada it makes people feel like US and Canadian political systems are similar, so the problems our southern neighbors are facing on the political scene must be Canadian problems too. This, dearest readers- as you may already know- is mostly not the case. Bottom line, the lesson here is to learn and understand our own back yard extremely well before we evaluate the usefulness of external movements, causes and ideas, as well as to remain resilient when external forces want to tell us that we are something which we are not.
The next big lesson for 2020 is to rethink digital security and privacy by increasing awareness and decreasing exposure. 2019 has been a year of ransomware attacks on hospitals, city administration computers, and let us not forget identity theft, credit card companies and credit score companies being hacked as well. Then, there is a long standing problem with revenge porn, getting doxxed and so on. In my mind, the reasons why this is happening originate in how our culture is evolving, and we need to address this. Here are a few of these reasons, see if you agree:
- Sending around nudes and doing anything else you should not for the sake of getting something you will never ultimately get that way. It is a mix of increasing laziness, desperation and other negative motivators. Nudes, to be honest, I find pretty useless. If you want to have sex, you want to have sex- not trade nudes. If you want a relationship, you do the work needed to find and evaluate someone mutually suitable. There is so much wasted effort in this category for everyone involved because it amplifies the mentality of delay and of settling for less than what you want out of life.
- Getting hooked on many free apps in exchange for your personal data is a big problem and it stems from the race to the bottom culture. What I mean by race to the bottom is the rush for lower and lower prices or getting too many things for free, which ultimately results in terrifying trade-offs that we as a society should not accept. Selling your privacy for a free app with new selfie filters, or selling your health by eating a five dollar unhealthy fast food meal, when taken to its extreme, could easily become a national security problem. At some point, if you want something that someone else makes, you need to understand there is a certain price below which it is impossible to go. Yes, things become cheaper over time and yes, it's important to bargain shop or take advantage of a sale, but it becomes an issue if you buy every single product and service in your life based solely on the price. This can honestly collapse an economy into itself like a neutron star.
A final major lesson we learned in 2019 is that our government has to finally revolutionize unemployment and skill shortage analyses, and how they raise awareness about what employers are really looking for. We are in an age of big data, analytics and better than ever computing power to create insightful reports faster than ever. It is time to look at unemployment in a more detailed way. We need numbers on who gave up, who went back to school due to unemployment, who went into side gigs or retail or coffee shops despite being educated to do more complex jobs, and finally unemployment by age groups and other demographic data. If this is already being done, then why do we only hear an overall percentage for the entire population? In this day and age, this literally means nothing any more. As for the skills shortage part, all I can say is that it is extremely difficult to get students hyped up about all these jobs if no one is regularly raising awareness about what these jobs are, how you study to do them and how much money you can make. Also, the prevailing mentality is that you should follow your passion even if you end up financing three different degrees and then starve to death. The objective reality of jobs is that sometimes you find a job, and other times a job finds you.
There we go, dearest readers. All of us know there are many more lessons to talk about that could make our lives easier in 2020. Still, I hope that you will find my cross-section of different lessons interesting and thoughtful. Happy New Year everyone!