This is going to seem like a really egocentric post, but honestly, it isn’t intended to be. It is simply a recognition on my part about something which has been in the back of my mind for a while: specifically, the apparent fact that society at large tends to adopt whatever weird-ass thing I am doing about, oh, twenty years or so afterward. Allow me to offer three examples.
The first one, which I’ve written about many times, is personal computing. More specifically, interconnected computing. I was hugely into this stuff – – it pretty much ruled my life – – starting in 1982 (at which time I wrote my first book). The percentage of people on the planet doing this kind of thing was – – what – – maybe 0.1%? If that? And then, about twenty years later, everyone discovers the Internet and being “connected” is what everyone does. Nothing rules our lives more now. Nothing.
Later on, I got married. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m white. Almost 100% pure United Kingdom DNA. That surname “Knight” isn’t an accident. The person with whom I fell in love wasn’t white. Ironically, I’m from the deep south of the U.S., and when I moved to the SF Bay Area in my teens, I was teased mercilessly, including being asked if I was part of the Ku Klux Klan. And yet, here in the oh-so-liberal Bay Area, I was entering into a marriage which was literally illegal when I was born whereas everyone else was, shall we say, sticking with their own kind. So much for liberalism, eh?
Fast forward, and so-called mixed-race couples are everywhere. So much so, it annoys the hell out of me. I don’t watch much television, but on the rare instances I do, the majority – – almost the entirety! – – of commercials are mixed-race couples. So what used to be taboo has now become de rigueur. The video below is a compilation of what I’m talking about, although I suspect the guy who put it together objects strenuously to this trend, so he’s probably quite the dickhead. Still, I wanted to offer a bit of evidence.
And then, most recently, Working From Home.
Ever since my first “real” job in 1987, I hated going to any office building. My dream was to wake up, walk ten steps to my home office, and work on what I loved. Getting a “day off” to work at home was a huge privilege back in the day. Dilbert cartoons back in the 1990s made fun of the concept of working from home, since it was seemingly a ploy by lazy workers to just watch television and enjoy their direct deposit. A scam. Risible.
After I sold my company, Prophet, I managed to hang around the “real” office for a while, drawing a stupidly big paycheck for very little work, and I just sat around doing nothing. It was boring. I started coming into the office less and less. It got to the point where my showing up to the office was a freakish event. I decided in 2009 to quit altogether and just……….work from home. I’ve been here ever since.
I soon noticed that going to the office was even worse than I remembered. Any time I would need to get on the road to run an errand or something like that, I was astonished at the traffic. Particularly on the freeways during rush hour! I simply could not BELIEVE people put up with this, day in and day out, spending hours sitting in a car moving at five miles per hour. What an insane waste of emotional energy, gas, and pollution. Just stupid. Lucky, lucky me, I was one of the almost-nobody-else-does-this work-from-home lifestyle.
Damn it, people of Earth! You copied me again! Don’t you realize I like being a freak? I want to be different? And yet company after company (most recently, yesterday, Ford Motors) has said it is A-OK for their employees to stay right where they are and work from home. What am I supposed to do now/ Work in a building just to be different again? I’m just like everyone else again!
Let me go on record and say this: if at some point you look around society and see a bunch of self-pitying, depressed people who like charting financial instruments and won’t shut up about how the world is doomed and financial chaos is at hand, remember me. I started it. And now everyone else is finally catching up, twenty years later.