Hedging Against the Future

This morning I did a bit of rubbernecking at a disaster of a post on MetaFilter. The post, since deleted, managed to violate multiple style guidelines in addition to supporting a moral framework that makes me ashamed to be human. The argument goes something like this: 1) poor people are lazy and 2) lazy people deserve to die.

Amidst various suggestions that this may be the worst post to ever disgrace MetaFilter (not without much competition), there was an interesting comment by delmoi, who wrote Anyway, the problem with poor people is that they're not lazy enough. Seriously. They work long hours at shit jobs to provide food for their kids and they're too proud to take advantage of government programs because it's 'un-American'.

So I had laziness in mind as I rode my bike past a couple school kids. I started thinking about the future and how the kids were probably looking at me thinking how odd it is to ride a bike to work, yet I expect it will be much more common for their generation. And that's when I realized that I ride my bike to work because I'm lazy.

It's not the kind of laziness we commonly think of, sitting on the couch watching TV eating potato chips (though I do some of that too). It's a pre-emptive laziness, a programmer's laziness. And it's not just my bike riding that demonstrates this. Nearly everything I do is a hedge against the future.

I expect gas to be prohibitively expensive, so I bought a bike to prepare myself. I don't expect the world can keep up current meat consumption, so I became vegetarian to prepare myself. I think we're moving towards an economy of ideas, and away from agriculture, manufacturing, and service. So I'm a programmer to prepare myself. I expect a future with less wealth for everyone, so I'm frugal to prepare myself. I'm basically living in the future I expect.

Which makes me wonder what good all this preparedness is doing me. I wonder if I wouldn't be better off spending more time thinking about the present and less thinking about the future.

 
 
 
Scott, I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but the permalinks in Bloglines always 404.

Anyway, I don't see your actions as lazy. Especially since you pair them with political activity.

As for future, present:

You're riding to work, which means you're taking time to see the weather and people, and help your heart, and feel good. That's the present.

You're a vegetarian, which means you're trying all sorts of new food combinations, and experimenting, and again, probably feeling healthier because of it. Not to mention not supporting industries that can be cruel, and foods that cost much.

As for frugality -- that's the number one weapon we have to fight back at the growing marketization of the US (the world really).

I'd say you are living in the present, part of which means keeping an eye to the future.

Heck, if all of us thought about the future too much, we'd all be in cabins in the woods somewhere.
 
 
 
 
Thanks for the note about Bloglines Shelley. It looks like they're treating GUIDs as links, which seems like a bad practice to me, but I've changed my feeds nonetheless, which will hopefully show up next time bloglines updates my feed. Living in cabins in the woods doesn't sound so bad.
 
 
 
 
"I wonder if I wouldn't be better off spending more time thinking about the present and less thinking about the future." this might be the case if riding your bike is a big drag, or if you're craving meat, or in any way regreting the choices you've made. but if that's not the case, and you're relatively content with those choices, then that is the answer to "what all this preparedness is doing for me."
 
 
 
 
It's hard to compare one's life to a hypothetical alternative, but pretty much everyone I know seems much more able to "go with the flow," whereas I'd like to know where exactly the flow is going so I can be sure to bring the proper supplies. I think maybe relaxing would be a good skill to develop.
 
 
 
 
well, you should try the present and all of those other things you are not sure about. it doesn't seem great when all of your friends [etc] just tell you to keep doing what you're doing because it seems good to them and even fits into a political stance that they agree with. i agree that your actions do not seem bad...however, if you question your intensions, then you SHOULD rethink a few things. tear apart some of those actions to get to your motivation. maybe it is laziness. and then you have the chance to change. figure out what lies beneath your actions (even if they look very good to an outsider). your motives are most important in having a more "livable"/guiltless life. and then reconstruct your actions. maybe they will even turn out the same as they are now. but it concerns me that all of your friends just want to make you feel better by telling you how great you are. if you are having doubts about the way you live life and it's within your power to examine and even improve on: then you should probably do that.
 

Be number 6:

 
 
 
knows half of 8 is