For a good chunk of college, I thought I’d go into finance. I cringe at the thought today. Nothing could be more pointless to me now, but that’s the truth, and I don’t like to lie, especially to myself. I wish I could say that I woke up on my own, but I was too dumb. It took a financial crisis for me to notice.
At the bottom of the market in 2009, I finally asked myself a question I should’ve asked years before. What would be a good thing to do with your life? I decided to base my decision on one thing — usefulness.
My thinking was simple. The first thought was, fuck Zynga (the “gaming” company behind Farmville). On the spectrum of usefulness, Zynga was surely near the very bottom. Saving lives would be on the other end.
Okay then, save lives, let’s say through something like cancer research. But the problem is that I’d be one cancer researcher, then I’d die, likely contributing little to science even in the best scenario. It would be more useful if I could create conditions that would produce more cancer researchers than would naturally exist. The ripple effects of this work would dwarf anything I’d do as an individual researcher.
Right then, I had a flashback to elementary school when a friend said to me “I’m not a math person”. He could’ve gone on to become a cancer researcher, but he never seriously considered math and science again after age 10.
Some of you might think I’m being mean to teachers but look at things from my friend’s perspective. Do you really think he was too dumb for elementary arithmetic? Maybe the teaching wasn’t great; if it were better, things would be different.
This story is repeated millions of times over. Kids could’ve become cancer researchers (feel free to substitute cancer researcher with any other profession). Instead, they were failed by a shit system and now find anti-vaccination arguments appealing.
There’s only one piece of shit in the story. Replace shit with something better. Seemed like a good thing to try.