Just this past weekend, I attended a wedding (reason for the dress in my recent post) where the above passage was read to my friend, the (mature) bride by her mother. Total tearjerker!
At the reception, I talked to a Silicon Valley professional tech-savvy person (another close childhood friend's husband), and asked him "So, what is it that you ACTUALLY do?" His patient reply gave me serious food for thought.
"Well, in a nutshell," he said, smiling, "people hire me to make jobs go away." (He's a systems engineer)
He went on to explain that ANY job a person currently does that can be done by a computer, or automated in some way, eventually will be. People will be replaced wherever they can, and that's where the future is headed. Hmmm... So what can go away? What can't?
The things/functions that are currently done as jobs by human beings, which can be broken down into facts/stats/data and analyzed will go away.
"But what about creative professions, and the things you can't measure?" I asked, confidently. After some really engaging conversation, I offered the example of clothing design.
Well, here's the thing. There's the practical side of things... We all understand the purposes of a basic t-shirt. Versatility, color, fit, softness, and durability are all considerations, but, frankly, a computer program can analyze your preferences and suggest a t-shirt for you to buy that will likely be better than anything you might have chosen or described on your own. Technology is already proving that. Now, we can't quite account for things we haven't yet seen, innovations, and functions/features we haven't yet thought of, but the foundation has already been laid.
So what's left? Well, tech jobs, for sure. Did you know that English is the primary language of 75% of internet users? Also, the things computers can't do, like sort through trash to find things of value. Problem is, the types of jobs you NEED people to do are generally also the lowest paying. Then, there are things that HAVE to be felt, lived, experienced in person. In real life. For me personally, that is the tactile experience of making things with my own hands, and the things and feelings that effort creates, for myself and for others.
Sure these thoughts had occurred to me before my conversation at the wedding, but I really look at my clothes in a deeper way now. Too much in my closets and drawers, I only want to own what makes a difference, and multi-season wear is vital. I am starting to genuinely dislike and eschew excess, and among my friends and family, the rejection of excess seems to be a growing trend. Not only that, when you consider your purchases more carefully, what you are willing to spend changes, with quality and beauty becoming your focus. This way of thinking, I feel, is more respectful of the marketplace, of yourself as a consumer, and of the enterprise or individual maker (especially if that person is yourself!), as a business. I also no longer expect, require or seek anyone else's approval or permission to create or wear anything of my own choosing! Maybe I'm just a grownup now. Who knows?
I look in the mirror now and see the person I am, not anyone else's idea of who I am or should be. REAL. Some grey hair, a little extra weight/softness here and there, some wear and tear... but not too shabby (grin)...
Versatility, uniqueness, beauty, comfort, practicality, ease of wear and laundering have all become primary considerations for my clothing now. The things that don't meet the requirements can go to charity.
In this deep thinking mode, I looked online for a TED talk or something similar, to help me process the abrupt quicksandish-seasick feeling that conversation left me with - but I saw nothing that jazzed me enough to watch. It all feels ego-driven, feel-good, "you're the greatest!", when what I wanted, was something else ... something real.
So I fired up my sewing machine.