Things vs. People

A new toy can only surprise you once. Or at most a few times, if it’s multifaceted. A diamond necklace will only surprise your wife once. A new house will only surprise you a few times before it slips into normalcy. A new car, just the same. A large sum of money, just the same.

The reason we desire things while they simultaneously empty us is because we know they will delight us at least once. But the magic fades quickly.

People, on the other hand, are infinitely surprising. They are infinitely dynamic. They are iridescent, and gleam a hundred different ways depending on how you shine the light. I’ve had friends for decades who still today surprise and delight me by their stories, jokes, embrace, and presence.

This is why we need people—why people are so much more important than things; why, when we have all the things, we still seek people. Nothing is as stimulating as human connection. Imagine being stranded on an island with an AI possessing the competence (or incompetence) of Siri—how quickly do you think you’ll go mad craving real human interaction? I cringe just thinking about the desolation.

As an engineer, I’ve deprioritized people in life and prioritized machines. Machines help turn me into a god (a supercilious one at that). People are puzzles that must be figured out. The choice has been easy. But profoundly limiting.

I never thought I’d say this, but:

You need people. You need people so effing bad.

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