Mark H ,
Susan Christiana
31

Hi Susan Christiana,

It’s good to be appreciated. I’ve often appreciated your contributions as well. I did major in English for a time after being “encouraged” out of Computer Science by a terrible professor. My shifting interests constantly and wanting to see all sides to everything extends pretty far into my life, and so I probably spent most of my school career without a declared major or at least not with one I was diligently working on. I did entertain being a writer in high school, but coming here was more by accident. I enjoy reading the writing of others, but in some ways, I think I’m using Medium more as a social network. I’ve had this nagging feeling I might try to progress into what I think of as writing, but I haven’t gone there yet.

Writing here has made me think more deeply on subjects, and to be honest, I at times grow a bit fearful of where it’s going. I’ve questioned a good deal of what I’ve written just because it’s quite different from where I started. The process grows us.

In my case, I think the growing was probably already very much in progress, but coming to Medium got me to confront it. I still feel as though I’m betraying something when I say I don’t see our markets working for the people anymore if they ever really did.

I sometimes wish we could see issues more clearly without having to be personally affected by them, but we are so often blind to what’s going on around us. We extrapolate truth for everyone based on our own truths. When the health care system wasn’t much of a problem for me, it must not have been much of a problem for anyone…and on and on.

As a young white male software engineer, my experience was often on the side of the system that works. My mother’s situation started showing me how it doesn’t work for so many people. I finally started wondering if I, myself, was feeling discrimination in my last job hunt because the cool companies don’t want old people like me around. I started reading about how disgusting that situation really is. And suddenly, the plight of other groups started coming more into focus. I wish I knew a better way to come to that understanding.

I try to be more patient with people who aren’t there yet because I understand that blindness. I still sometimes get that rush thinking how cool it would be to be in the boys club and just roll over everyone else like an executive on Mad Men. People were always getting stepped on, but it was just more accepted to ignore it back then.

I was getting worried I was coming across as completely anti-business. I’m not going to advocate we go back to tribalism, but I have been seriously questioning rugged individualism lately. When does life ever go as we plan? It seems in our current system, once you get cast aside as irrelevant, getting up is nearly impossible.

I supported my mother from having lost everything to a gambling addiction to having quit gambling entirely and graduating with an accounting degree as a member of the accounting honor society. I had her graduation date on my calendar for years thinking I just had to get her there and then she could start on her own. She graduated and…nothing. No job offers. I’m sure her age and maybe even people looking up her past problems had something to do with it, but there are plenty of Millennials on here who are describing getting out of school with massive debt and no jobs.

So, how can I say what we have works? I took a step back from writing much for a time because I was really feeling the sting of my betraying my faith in the markets and my past politics. But, why should I have faith in exploitation when I see its failure with my own eyes?

It’s hard to see it failing when you’ve spent much of your life on the happy path. I sometimes feel as though I’m always in the middle and don’t have real opinions, but maybe those of us who appreciate both sides have something to contribute.

Thanks for prompting me to think this over and write about it. Mulling this over has been my reason for having taken a step back lately.

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