My kids told me one of their childhood friends proposed to his girlfriend on the weekend. Little Robbie is now 23 and all grown up. I said… “He’s in the trades, right?”. The answer was yes. In other words he won’t have a problem getting work or supporting a wife and family. He’s unlike most kids now coming up in the world, where the “adulting” they joke about is not really a joke. They lack the usual markers which previous generations knew, getting done with schooling, getting a good job, buying a car, getting married, buying a house… it’s all becoming rather complicated. The idea of WORK itself is becoming very complicated.
It’s because of the distance from reality that technology creates. Most work is now mental, very little physical reality in front of your eyeballs to reference. Ask people… what their dad does, what their mom does, what their own job is all about. Chances are no one will really KNOW. That’s telling. I once had a conversation with an IT guy who assured me he did very little except parade around an office space with a clipboard looking perpetually like he was on his way to a meeting. “No one will interrupt you” he said, “If you are sporting a purposeful walk”. Such cues quantify value. Because IT is cloaked in mystery, it is also a career that pays well.
A friend told me about working from home. What do you do all day? I asked him. “I make phone calls”… he said. “What do you put on a timesheet?” I pondered aloud. He didn’t have an answer. I wondered who could come up with a job description to quantify his day… what he got done, what was left for tomorrow, and what was done well. He said the computer notifies him of tasks and he has to log the tasks. “Who inputs the tasks?” I asked. It becomes a head scratcher like the chicken and the egg.
An acquaintance once trotted out what he called the “Harvey’s job quotient”. He said that if he had a job to do he didn’t want a lot of things up in the air. He only wanted to know: “Will that be ketchup mustard or relish?” just like in the Harvey’s lineup. Simple instructions, people.
One risk to those training in the world today, is that technology changes fast. What your job entails today, may not be the same in a year, or five, or ten. Given the nimble nature of most workplaces, people asked to train you will wonder if you are going to replace them. It is very hard these days to get a job unless you can hit the ground running. In that sense, my friend was right. You sleep easier at night with the Harvey’s quotient.
It’s not just jobs, it’s everything. I miss fast forward, play, and rewind buttons. Pretty basic. We got a security system and our calls to a virtual IT office were mutually excruciating. They had masks, submasks, domains, TCPIP, and so on. You had to view everything online. Eventually the person on the other side developed an edge in his voice and me, I started to wonder what other complicated things I am going to have to navigate in my lifetime.
The cloud is one of those. Last time my wife got her phone updated, they asked for her icloud and her Apple ID. Of course, few people are able to pull this information from a handy body orifice so a blank stare and a phonecall to me ensued. She also got the impression someone twenty thought she was very, very stupid.
If you look up an item online these days you will have to register an account. It will require a password. They tell you NOT to use the same password twice because it will be hacked. They also tell you to NOT write down your passwords anywhere because someone will find them. You have to commit them to memory and you will get password exhaustion. I once had to tell a bank receptionist that I truly could not remember a password that I had apparently registered three years earlier. There have been many passwords since then. She smiled knowingly.
In an age characterized by distance-EVERYTHING, I am starting to miss hands on more and more. I recently trained for a job that integrates four or five data entry systems with one new system. It is hard working remotely to find out who to ask about stuff. I get the impression we are all playing catch up. Add to that sourcing manuals online, logging tickets, figuring out the chain of responsibility, it all is becoming something akin to nailing down Jell-O.
Best I can guess, you will soon have to be twenty years old in order to be an expert in anything, because everyone else will have become obsolete. It makes you wonder where higher education is all going to. It could no longer be needed if all we have to do is consult a kid with a phone. Keeping up with technology is about as far from human as I can imagine, but it is where it is all going just the same. I miss having issues like not being able to programme the VCR. Data overload anybody? I defer to the Harvey’s quotient - will that be ketchup, mustard, or relish? Just remember, simple is good.