How should I live my life? I ask this question a lot because of the following truths:
- There are a finite number of hours in the day, and therefore a finite number of endeavors I can devote my time to. Giving an idea, like trying to become Instagram-famous, equal weight and equal time as something like finding a job for myself post-graduation would be silly.
- I value certain things more than I do others. I don’t love doing everything, and I need a semblance of happiness and fulfillment in my day-to-day.
- I am lucky. There’s no denying this! I’m not a starving child in a third-world country, and I wasn’t born with a genetic defect that prevents me from thinking or moving.
- Day-to-day, I don’t work on fighting world hunger, climate change, or deforestation. I don’t work on stopping global war, helping our broken public school system, or the AIDS epidemic. And neither do most of my friends or the people I know. From the comfort of Silicon Valley, life can almost seem pretty great.
But it’s not.
It’s almost easy to ignore the rest of the world from within the Silicon Valley bubble; at Stanford, I’m surrounded by privilege and by working in tech as a software engineer or otherwise, I’ll be working on problems that won’t matter to you at all if, for example, you didn’t have access to clean water (which, according to the CDC, is over 35% of the world’s population). Of course, you could make the argument that society is trending towards a direction of technology being increasingly important, not the other way around, and that the technologies that you work on will affect the majority of people in one way or another.
But somehow, that doesn’t seem quite satisfying, because if global warming is getting worse and if 13% of our world is undernourished, then why am I not working on those problems? Why isn’t anyone I know working on those problems? (It is also entirely possible that I do know people who are working on these problems, and that I just don’t know about them/their stories. Feel free to prove me wrong!)
I want to conclude these thoughts by posing a few questions. To anyone reading this, I’d love to know:
- What drives you in your current pursuit(s)? Why are you doing what you’re doing?
- What do you think about the amount of social responsibility you have for the world around you?
Email me if you have any thoughts. I’d love to hear them.