Friday, 27 September 2013
The Answer To Everything (it's not bacon)
If you're anything like me, you might have a sneaking suspicion that there is some magical key phrase which will uncover a rare page of obscure search results, and the very last one on page 999 will have THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING.
I don't know about you, but I haven't found that page yet. I've wasted hours on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, various tech websites, trying to puzzle over visa requirements, getting glimpses into faraway worlds, scored billions of worthless points on meaningless games, entered competitions without ever winning anything, and pretty much read every Explosm comic ever.
I actually had that same feeling in a book store: wandering through the shelves, full of glossy and somehow tragic books, representing collective centuries' worth of effort from their authors and yet bound for tomorrow's budget bin, I was just overcome with the feeling that the ANSWER wasn't there. It wasn't anywhere, really.
The proof for that is all around you. People are working in jobs, spending collectively more time working for somebody else than they do on anything else, including sleeping. Yes, even employers ... they just work to survive, just like the rest of us, while being responsible for their employees. It's just bigger problems.
If there was an ANSWER out there, you can bet that millions of people would have found it already and be shouting about it from the rooftops: a lot like how whichever online game you start playing these days, there is always somebody on level one million while you're struggling with level 3. People can do impossible things: fly to the moon, understand quantum mechanics, even watch a whole Bieber concert from start to finish.
I did, however, stumble across this website tonight: http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-famous-thought-experiments.php. It blew me away, because I didn't expect to find anything intelligent on a website called 'toptenz', and every single thought experiment is actually really fascinating ... some I'd heard of, many others not. I loved each one, because analogies like these just distill some really wise observation into an anecdote that that slow kid down the road can understand.
If there's one thing that annoys the hell out of me, it's how dishonest the world has become. In my 28 years of life, nobody has ever told me something I'm going to tell you now: we're all looking for an answer which will return us to a Garden of Eden state of existence. No crime, no worries, just lazing about in a garden naked (no clothing brands!) with a member of the opposite sex (beautiful? nothing to compare with, apart from that bear with the 'come here' eyes) to eat apples (low-fat) with and presumably start the human race.
The more I turn this simple realisation over in my mind, the more humour I can find in every frustration that the world has to offer. Looking for the ANSWER is like considering these magical weight loss products: you know they don't work, because there are still fat people. The whole reason we don't worry about polio or the Black Plague like they used to is because there is effective medication for those problems: not so much for the greasy lures of KFC.
If you're from the TLDR (I love how there are acronyms for EVERYTHING!) Twitter generation, here's a bite-size summary just for you:
Life is a blank slate with a few crayons. For the sake of humanity, draw a pretty picture. #ToBeOrNotToBe