Hello, Robots. Welcome to The Machine

I understand why some choose to refer to the modern world as The Machine. Sometimes, it looks like a simple to complex device, which has predictable processes, inputs, outputs and storage. Things grow. Things perform the functions of living creatures. Things die. More things grow. The processes repeat.

But humans, obviously, are not the same as all the other living creatures. We do not exist merely to consume food, reproduce and die. From the stone-age till now, we have managed to mentally and behaviourally evolve such that we have created structures for ourselves. I’m not just talking about infrastructure, like schools, hospitals, offices and whatnot. We have also created structures for the way human being should live their lives. Now there are all these “proper ways” to do things. There are “proper ways” to make money, get jobs, “proper ages” to go to college, get married, have children, places to be at certain times, schedules and instructions absolutely everywhere.

Much of the time, the world makes me feel dehumanised. I think it’s like a Machine that treats all of us as robots – but then I realised that it’s the human factor that really makes it a machine. Life’s natural processes are there, alright. But the rest are just human created schedules that any ‘normal’ person has to follow. We already know that I am a person who does not like the strictness of timetables – especially ones doled out to me, ones which I am not permitted to question. And those are everywhere! (Especially school.)

In my opinion, what makes us, as human beings different from many other creatures is our emotions. As far as I know, even if other creatures are capable of experiencing the emotions that we can, they don’t appear to react to them as much as we do. Our emotions make us do unpredictable, incomprehensible things that make us question the very essence of who we previously thought we were. They ruin us, they change us, they break us, they shock us…And true to their nature, we don’t know how to predict them either. We don’t always know how we’ll react to things, and we don’t know what sort of mood we’ll be in tomorrow, or even an hour from now.

So my problem with structure, schedules and timetables is this: why don’t they take our emotions into account? They treat us like we are robots – like we will always feel like going to class, or going to work, or a woman should always feel ready to get married or have a child, or we should always feel like eating what we ate at this exact time last week, when the timetable says we should…or better yet, not feel at all – so that these structures that are all the same, will appear “all the same” to us.

It’s so tiring and restrictive. If, on a day, I am feeling low, and I don’t feel like speaking much in class, (instead of you being grateful that I showed up at all), why should you antagonise me as if by my silence, I am committing the world’s greatest sin? If I don’t do something on time, of course the first conclusion to jump to is that I’m lazy – never considering perhaps that life is overwhelming me, or depression is spreading through my mind and heart like a plague.

(This past academic year, I concluded that no school authority really, really cares about me as a person.)

Yes, I understand that jobs make the world work, and that people being sensitized to things the world believes we should know is altogether alright, but I would rather human structures cut down on their expectations and stop ignoring the human factor in us: that we have emotions, which can be felt, which can affect us and our performance, whether or not we will them to. We are human beings. Allow us to feel – especially when we’re not harming anybody or anything in the process.

There are angry people who get up and start shooting school children. What exactly would have happened if people had paid attention to their anger beforehand, and not just expected them to “get over it” because life goes on? How many suicides could we have avoided by people who were simply bored of the monotony of life, and terrified that they couldn’t escape the cycle they were living in?

And it’s not like the world is treating us like robots; it’s the humans in the world treating themselves, and other humans, like robots. I’m so freaking tired of feeling like a robot. What is true flexibility in life? What does it feel like? How many people believe in it?

Perhaps we’re getting closer and closer to an era of cyborgs and androids (in which case, perhaps, Marissa Meyer is probably a prophetess). Actually, you know what? Maybe I should be a dystopian fiction writer. Maybe I’ll write a book called “Hello, Robots. Welcome to The Machine.” Perhaps it will be like the beginning of William Nicholson’s “The Wind Singer.”

-Akotowaa

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