July 8, 2018

Celebrating quitting smoking anniversary, plus some thoughts on change


Looking back at my June articles, I think I may have scared some people off a bit. Death, emotional pain, surviving change, making amends with your past….

This week I would like to talk about something positive, for a change. Celebrating an achievement and a few general thoughts. Why not – it’s a sunny day and I am on my way to Paris 😉

Three years ago I wrote the article The only thing you need to know to truly quit smoking.

I am happy to report that I haven’t had a single cigarette since. And the thought of having one never even crossed my mind.

Writing self-help advice on addiction is hard. Especially if you are trying to make yourself an example. How do you know if the solution is going to work?

In my case, I waited for one month before being reasonably sure that this advice was going to work for me.

In the meantime, things have changed a bit in the past three years. Smoking seems a lot less cool than it used to be. I bet if you had a focus group and asked what a collective smoker looks like today, it would be a hunched coughing manual worker over 60. Just look at the smoking areas in airports. Somehow they look like zoo cages, and people inside don’t look particularly happy.

Smoking is not the only thing that has changed. The whole concept of things accelerating seems to be getting traction. I read a while back that we are likely to compress developments that took place over the whole 20th century into some 20 years of progress. Slowly I am starting to believe that. I think we are a bit like a frog that can boil to death without trying to jump out of a pot if the temperature is going up slowly. We don’t notice the changes because they happen gradually. But at some point, we will start noticing.

Let’s just look at a few indicators. Elon Mask finally started mass producing the Model 3. Almost a year too late – but how much is a year if you consider that many people were fully skeptical about electric cars only a few years ago? What’s more interesting is that other manufacturers are following suit. The time of transition to electric cars has finally come.

New Zealand airline got in trouble for offering their first class passengers artificial plant-based burger. Somehow the news wasn’t that there is already an artificial burger available, made of plants and looking and tasting like real meat!

I wondered for years why we tolerate antiquated methods of alcohol manufacturing. Is aging a wine in oak barrels for years really the best we can do? Come to Replica Wine, the company producing chemical copies of famous wines!

And while global legalization of marijuana seems a foregone conclusion now, I am hoping for a synthetic alcohol substitute. Which seems to be on the way, too.

A big part of our lives these days is software. Have you noticed that software started changing pretty much without warning?

At some point, the speed of change has got to start messing with people’s heads. So I think it’s only a matter of time before people will start resenting change and forming political parties around the idea of keeping things as they are, or even going back to the way they were.

Think ‘Make America Great Again’ – the implication is that things used to be better than they are now, and people need to go back.

Also, look at the way conservation efforts are going.

In some European countries, for example, it is forbidden to hunt wolves. The idea is that wolves and farmers have to co-exist and that farmers need to lose the occasional livestock to wolves as pray. The thought would have never crossed the mind of a medieval peasant, of course.

I so much hope this kind of thinking won’t save malaria mosquito, whose contribution to the global harmony is millions of human casualties from the deadly disease… I am pretty sure the world would be a better place without the malaria mosquito. And any potential catastrophe we are getting ourselves into by wiping the mosquito out won’t be worse than the millions of lives we lost already.

Sadly, I think the future will not be good for everyone. Some people will start falling behind even more than they do now. Just as it happens in school. If you fall behind, it’s very hard to catch up. And people will start falling behind very early in life… But this process is unavoidable and irreversible and has been going on for as long as humans existed. Let’s do our best not to stay behind – and to help those who do.

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