Tuesday, November 29, 2022

What do you want to be in five years?

What do I want to be? Honestly, there’s no way I can answer this question with any confidence. I have no idea what the world looks like in two years, let alone five years. Why do we ask this question other than making a case about our ability to be optimistic?

A better question would be: what kind of system are you doing now to be better every day? Well, granted that we need to define what “better” is, because it would be different for everyone. Nonetheless, whatever better is for you, what are you doing is much more concrete than looking five years. I guess my answer to the five years question would be: just keep getting better, keep hustling, keep on having fun with my love ones.

“Is the future real?” I saw this question last week, but can’t recall from where. Such a profound inquiry. The past is real. There’s one past, the real one. Well, past can have many versions, but still history is what actually happened. But the future is much trickier. It exists in our brains, our mere imagination. Is it real? Not sure. Can we make it real? Probably, with time. So why bother thinking about possibilities rather than doing what can be done, today.

Until that future becomes present.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Winners take all

Many rich people boast about their hard works, usually attributing their success to the sacrifices they made. This kind of thinking is understandable, as people want to be seen “worthy”. However, in all directness, I really think the biggest contributor of getting rich is luck. Many underappreciate luck. Being the right people at the right place and time can launch anyone in the trajectory of money. Yeah, yeah, hard work plays a part, but hey, look around, how many hard-working people are there? And how many are “rich”?

Interestingly, the more connected the world is, the richer those few lucky people get. That’s why nowadays people are willing to do anything to be viral. When you’re trending, a connected world will point more people to you, giving you more traction, and then more people come, more trending, and so on. I can imagine in the pre-internet era, there was a certain limit on how many people you can reach. Internet abolishes this limit. You may say, it’s good now that everyone has the same chance. Yeah sure, but the virality tends to accumulate on even fewer people. The few lucky ones who think hard-work is the sole reason and they’re worthy.

Luck decides the winners. The winners take all.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Stop and ask why

I watched Trevor Noah’s new special in Netflix yesterday. It was okay. I supposed the disappointment part comes from my high expectation. He is one of my favourite comic, but when he started the special with a recycled joke, I was immediately put off. Nevertheless, there was one section that I really like.

As part of his set, he jokes about the pandemic and the conspiracies (another put off, don’t we all get tired?). He said something like, “the government wouldn’t want people to have time to ask ‘Why?’”. And not having time to ask why is a big problem. I moved to the edge of my seat thinking, ‘huh, that’s so true’.

Stop whatever you’re doing and ask, why am I doing this? You’ll see how many interesting follow-up questions spawn. And then that frightening thought creep in. “I don’t know,” would be a common answer. Yeah, take a look around. Ask to yourself: why do people around you do whatever they’re doing. Don’t ask them, though. Just observe.

I remember having this weird sticker from a book that said “thinking not to think”. Many people get busy for the sake of being busy. To avoid thinking about ‘why’ altogether. Because ‘why’ is scary. There’s no right answer. Hell, there might be no answer at all.

Are you brave enough to stop and ask ‘why’?

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Absolute power corrupts absolutely

“To ask if FIFA can be free of corruption, is like asking if the world ever be free of corruption.”

That’s the closing statement in the recent FIFA documentary released by Netflix. Since the statement was uttered by who was a management of FIFA, it may sound apologetic. I believe it carries some truth. Have you ever wondered, when watching news about a corrupt high-ranking officer, why would these rich and powerful people keep on taking more and more money? Often in ways that are blatantly corrupt too. Is it really, merely, just because of greed? Is greed really that hard to control?

I know there’re plenty government and company officials who are honest. But let’s take an example from FIFA. From the documentary depiction, the majority of FIFA officials are corrupt. It’s really hard to understand as FIFA is a non-profit organization of a sport, but they are indistinguishable from political bodies. Why? Are the officials turning FIFA into one, or is the problem already inherent in the organization itself? How grim it is if the latter is true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about whether there’s a governance structure free from corruption. I like democracy. But still, in democracy, many elected leaders bend their knee to greed. The other end, autocracy, isn’t free from corruption too. Does greed go hand-in-hand with power? Are we that weak?

So far, accumulation of power seems to be the issue. Maybe the best way to avoid corruption is to avoid power concentration at all costs. It’s easy to say this when I’m not in that position, because who doesn’t like power?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Numbers go up, people go down

“Stock market is the greatest invention of mankind.”

I read that passage from somewhere. Although, shame, I don’t remember from which book, or by who. Nevertheless, it sticks. When I read it the first time, there’s nothing else that I felt except skepticism. As recent as 3 years ago, I believed stock market is a zero-sum game; if someone benefits, it must be at the expense of somebody else. I grew more tolerant in the past years, especially since I delve into the financial world. I could see why some people want to dedicate their lives, their limited time, in this world. Although, one can’t help but wonder the moral contradiction of the stock prices.

About a week ago, Facebook (or Meta, or Zuck? Whatever) decided to lay off more than 11.000 people (according to the news). From humanity point-of-view, what a tragedy. However, Meta stock price immediately went up, from around $90 to $112, as of now. Congrats, I guess?

There’s a brilliant depiction of this tragedy in my favorite TV Series of all time, Silicon Valley. Gavin Belson, then-CEO of Hooli, was just lost his court case and forced to reduce Hooli’s workforce. Before he got the chance of feeling any remorse, he got the news that atually Hooli’s revenue went up amid the decision. “You’re saying I can get more money by firing people?” He asked, and of course proceeded with firing even more people. I laughed back then, but not so much when I see it in real life.

What kind of incentive does the stock price conjure? Stock market is, maybe, the greatest invention after all: it shows the true color of humanity.