Finding Myself

samfloy~20 March 2013 /Latin America/Travels

Hagley, England, United Kingdom
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seeing as four months ago to the day I set off to Find Myself, it only seems right to give a little update on my progress. Don’t worry – nothing too deep..

Meeting hundreds and hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds certainly gives you a new perspective on how to view the world. The way smaller communities operate is a similar set up to what it must have been before the turn of the Industrial Revolution. It was so interesting to be a part of these societies – like being in a Living Museum.

In the really remote villages of Belize, and Peru especially, the upsides were obvious in terms of happiness, and connection with nature. That said, it was also absent of the benefits of sanitation and an open education.

The more you liberate, and open up the world, the more people are able to make decisions for themselves, which in my eyes must be a good thing: (if you were a peasant in feudal times, more or less, you were bound to what the Lord of the Manor decided). Now you have a world where there are suddenly billions more decision makers, who want different and diverse things.

There will naturally be a conflict amongst all of these wants, so a system needs to be established to best satisfy those needs. It is almost always those with little, or no voice who get left behind (women, the environment etc).

The answer can’t be to reduce the amount of free-decision makers there are in the world. That would be a step back to tyranny and the feudal system.

History has shown that the way to progress is to harness self-interest. It might not be good for everyone at first, but it has surely been behind the advancements in medicine, industry, and the potential for everyone to increase their standard of living.

Where self-interest has failed, is in distributing resources equally. I think however that this doesn’t mean we lose faith in humanity, just that there hasn’t been the means for people to easily do so.

For example, most people will agree that they don’t need a car the all the time, but the fact they need it sometimes means that they buy one and own one. With 10 people living on the street, there will be 10 cars. This is a waste, yet who is responsible to ask some families to go without whilst others still have one? The only way is to have people voluntarily give up their cars. In the past, this would have been a logistical nightmare if you wanted to share – someone going around with a clipboard and a timetable trying to work out how/when they could be shared. You are also then constrained to the people living on the street which isn’t very practical.

Now however, services are appearing online that allow this problem to be solved in a much simpler way. It is dependent on people sharing certain pieces of information with a select group, and means that instead of spending thousands on a new car, they can borrow one from time to time (i.e. when you really need it) for much less. Further, if you do have a car, you now have a revenue stream to offset when you aren’t using it.

The ability for everyone in the world to connect with each other gives a much more accessible platform for people to share resources. This means total production of goods can decline, and the benefits of these products can be more equitably distributed.

It is obviously a long way from solving all the world’s problems, and there are certainly pitfalls in people becoming addicted to smartphones etc., but those who lambaste the advancement of technology, and the increased connectedness of people risk cutting off the ability for people to easily share what they have with others around them. Which, from people I have spoken to, is usually the end game of how any society should operate.

So after trying to Find Myself, I will probably look to fit into this emerging trend with how the (developed) world might be going. For me, there’s no need to for excessive ownership of material goods. It is fine to enjoy yourself, and have good experiences, but the answer to everything isn’t blind self-interest. In the same it isn’t an excuse for acting selfishly.

Had I chosen to go to some other continent for my search, who knows how this entry might have read differently…