Since I started gr0wing.com, I’ve been receiving emails from every parts of the earth: India, the UK, France, Denmark, the USA. The Internet has delivered its promise as a global conversation enabler.
The messages I get are mostly questions about life choices, everyone stumbles upon gr0wing.com when they’re about to make critical decisions: changing career, taking a sabbatical trip, leaving for a monastery in Thailand…
A few questions come back more often than others, they’re my readers’ top concerns and I thought I might as well make a short list and recap my answers, some might be relevant, others unbelievably naive, you be the judge.
Technology is tightening its claws on us and Google rules the world, what can we do about that?
Technology is pervasive, it’s everywhere and it’s probably too late to slow down the process. Machine used to be mere conveniences, now they’re mandatory: try to get a job without having a cell phone and an email account.
This raises the topic of freedom: how much can we afford NOT to rely on technology? What will be left if we unplug everything?
My answers are: I don’t know and I don’t know, but for sure, to keep Big Brother in control, it doesn’t hurt to:
I try to check email twice a day max, and I regularly cut down on Facebook usage using StayFocusd. You can find more brain saving tricks on my post about Digital Minimalism.
the best way to gain freedom over technology is to know what’s going on under the hood. I’m in that process BTW, here are a few links to free online training resources on computing.
- Wikiversity School of Computer Science and Technology
- Dream.In.Code Tutorials
- MIT OpenCourseWare (Engineering and Computer Science)
- Free computer Tutorials
- Programmer 101: Teach Yourself How to Code
- Google Code University
- and of course: coursera.org
Where can I find like minded people?
The mainstream is dumb, passive and selfish. If you’re concerned with the future of the planet and willing to make a difference, you’re bound to feel like a salmon swimming against the current. That is a problem faced by a good chunk of gr0wing readers, especially those who can’t share their ideas with their workmates (who only care about making dough) or with their friends (who kill time by getting fucked up every week-end).
So where to find these people who have the drive to lead everyone toward a change?
I actually use this blog to connect with people who share something with me, so as usual, feel free to shoot me a message at [email protected], lately, I’ve also spotted a hub of eco-activist that I find interesting: http://valhallamovement.com. You might not connect with their style, but they have ideas AND the drive to put them to use.
How to make money in this collapsing economy?
I wish I had an easy answer to that question, I have to confess that it’s a problem for me too! (check my own bankruptcy story), but I’m working hard on it.
The economy of 9 to 5 jobs, heavy industry, and retirement plans is in agony. While some still manage to fit in the regular job market, it looks like most of us will soon be better off becoming their own personal company, and making use of our their skills via an online business. The learning curve is very steep, but those who made it claim it’s more rewarding to be your own captain. One of the best examples I can think of is Clayton B. Cornell of the Spartan Traveller.
I’ll let you know when my own experience can be used as an example, it’s a work in progress :)
My life is lousy, what if I leave everything behind to become a Monk?
Well, if you try to leave something behind, chances are they’ll follow you, unless you change your habits and it doesn’t take to be a monk to do that!
My most successful post “4 things you should know if you want to become a Buddhist Monk” has many visitors who see monastic life as a chance to dump their social and professional life, which are sometimes too challenging.
In most cases, I think they’re contemplating asceticism for the wrong reasons (and I did that mistake too). To get a good start with Buddhism and create the right conditions to learn from it, I wrote a post for absolute beginners. I now strongly recommend to progress one step at a time by studying and learning first, then maybe, eventually, consider the monastic path.
Should I make a choice between meditation and drugs?
As long as you have some cash and a shipping address, globalization will deliver anything to your door. It’s true for groceries, books, clothes…and drugs: weed, meth, LSD, DMT, with darknet marketplaces like the Silk Road, every psychoactive is literally just two clicks away.
Globalization has also made another psychoactive widely available: meditation , no wonder the millennial generation is now comparing the benefits of drugs with those of contemplative methods, it’s only fair.
Doing drugs or meditation, or even both, that should be left for you to decide. But since I’ve experienced both (and quite a lot), I can safely say that meditation is less likely to damage your brain. It’s also free, and the law doesn’t regulate its use…yet.
So go ahead, sit and do that thing as much as you please. I’ll say it again even if I sound like an old fart: there’s a big difference between getting high and getting wise.
The twenty first century is full of fears, suffering and opportunities, most of the exchanges I’ve had with all of you reflect just that. We all hope something good comes out of 2014 chaos, but no institution or authority can provide an answer.
This is is a good thing, because you know the good old saying: it has to start with us. I’ll continue to explore paths that hopefully lead to improvement, I’ll share them on this blog. And please, if you know better, reach out to me and guest post on gr0wing!
Picture under Creative Common License – Scott Cresswell