New Ages

The original industrial revolution transformed our economy from agriculture to industry. Processes became mechanized and products were mass-produced for the first time. The second industrial revolution revolved around the discovery of electricity, gas and oil, and the third revolution, beginning in the l960’s, came to the forefront with nuclear energy and electronics.

We’re now in the next phase of a dramatic technological expansion and social change — the fourth Industrial Revolution. The exact dates of each revolution or age are imprecise.

What we’ve been witness to over the past several years is a shift. Don’t you feel a shift from the way things used to be compared to how we do business, run our lives, and live happily now? I do.

Components of Change

This current shift came about with recent increased meshing of physical, digital, and biological technologies.  It’s been a perfect storm of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.   The Internet of Things (IoT) describes physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software and applied science that connects and exchanges data across various platforms.  AI, including ChatGPT, is the latest component to bust out of its shell to present a cabillion solutions and just as many problems. Politics have been another significant component of this change, shifting, and exposing unsettling areas of dissatisfaction within our society. 

Impacts of Change

A major way we are experiencing the impacts of these changes is in finding products and services that were routinely abundant in previous months and years and now take longer to acquire or are no longer available at all. Tied to that is the change in the workers who produce the goods and services.

The pandemic forced workers to find more creative and mostly online ways to make money. Since society has opened back up, employees have struggled to return to the 9-5 jobs they had for decades. Ever heard of Quiet Quitting? Quiet quitting describes workers who can’t or won’t completely quit their jobs but who no longer will try to excel like they might have before. Workers no longer define their worth by the jobs they do. This has made is difficult to fill positions at all levels of industry, from gardeners to doctors. No one is showing up at job fairs anymore. Lots of workers would rather do a job just to get enough to survive but not adhere to a more rigid structure of 40 hr weeks, 50 weeks a year.

It’s not easy to identify what change created a subsequent change. The pandemic, climate anomalies, and politics have all meshed together to bring into play changes affecting our buying power, social lives, health care, routine expenses, and almost every aspect of everyone’s lives. In the process of these changes, unsettling areas of dissatisfaction in our society have arisen, and we’re coping with the resulting reactions to those issues as well.

Where Do You Fit In?

Why are you talking about this here, Antonia?

I’m talking about this new phase, age, revolution or whatever you want to call it, because the resulting factors are affecting our happiness and affecting where we place our focus. Gatherings of friends and family focus on the changes and how they are bad, disheartening, shameful, “never in my generation” labeled, etc. Yet, the changes are neither good or bad, they just are … regardless of what we call them, and we need to accept that fact. Instead of complaining that workers today aren’t, in general, as conscientious as we were, how about we just observe and be grateful we don’t have to try to make a living in the changing workplace.

We will fit in where we decide to fit in.

We can be negative and complain about all the changes regarding the service we receive (or don’t because of decreased staffing) or the lack of availability of products or we can see the changes for what they are, make adjustments as best we can and move on with our lives. Whether we’re dealing with less service at the grocery stores or at our favorite restaurants, it does us no good to complain. If we have to seek a replacement product because our favorite isn’t out there anymore, oh well. We can just deal with it.

Change is here. The new age is what it is. Be a student of what is changing and why, and then deal with it.

The new normal of gripping and complaining is only real if you let it. If you want to look for the good, come sit next to me. 

Let’s be open and observant about all the changes in front of us because it’s just a matter of time before we’re in the next new age, whatever that may be. Personally, I want to be around for that!