When I found out that the title of my CTW course was “Man a Machine” I was very impressed. The fact that humans are transforming into a living machine is something that I have always wanted to examine more deeply.
I come from a world where every person is still considered first of all as a human with feelings and emotions and then for his or her skills in a working context. In my opinion this is the biggest difference between Italy, which is where I am from, and the United States. Here in America everyone has a precise function in the society and that small percentage of people that doesn’t, is left behind and abandoned from the society.
I do understand that a society where everyone has a precise function works perfectly. This is because everyone does their specific job that allows the machine, composed of many kinds of jobs, to work impeccably.
However, this system somehow devalues human beings. We are more than just a monotonous mechanical process; we have feeling and opinions that we need to share with other people. We have to find a way to connect with each other that has nothing to do with our jobs. What happens is that people are not able to associate themselves with the work they do because it doesn’t benefit them directly. They will eventually feel lonely and fall in depression because of their life being repetitive and lacking social interaction.
In fact there have been different cases in which some factory workers, that do the same mechanical job every day, decided to commit suicide. Instinctively we make things that are necessary for us only. Making things that don’t satisfy our personal needs is unnatural and this is what leads to a feeling of depression and uselessness, in particular for factories’ workers.
I have always wondered weather there was a solution to this problem and the first time I realized that there was, was when I started this CTW course.
Our Professor introduced us to a new perspective of our everyday lives. We deeply analyzed the concept of DIY. We discussed about it in class and in the end, it was evident that everyone agreed that a system based on the “Do It Yourself” manner, would work better, waste less sources, and make people happier.
Through research I found out that the more things we do by ourselves, the happier we are. Bea Johnson provides us with a great example. She made the choice to live in a house where the concept of DIY rules. She fixes broken things, she cooks and she tries not to waste anything. She also explains how much happier she became after starting to do more by herself. She feels satisfied and rewarded to do something that is actually directed to her own purpose (Lonsdale).
An important consequence that DIY provides is creativity. By doing every kind of work by ourselves we stimulate our creativity which is what leads us to come up the best innovations. Creativity is fundamental for humans in order to find a way to connect to people and consequently live happily.
In fact Jonah Lehrer writes an entire book about creativity. His book is called “How Creativity Works: It’s All In Your Imagination”. In this book he describes how Steve Jobs, one of the most important exponents of modern technology, had decided to put the bathroom of his workers at a 15 min walk distance. Everyone was wondering the reason why he would make such an inconvenient arrangement, but he knew exactly what he was doing. Everyone had now something in common that they could talk about and this gave them a sort of connection and a reason to interact with each other. What Jobs was claiming is that social interaction is very important between coworkers in order to spur their creativity and make the best innovations (Lehrer).
Contrarily to Rome, Italy, whenever I walk around the area of Santa Clara University I don’t see people’s emotions in the buildings, I don’t get a feeling of support when I look at people and I can’t relate myself with anything around me. Everyone is very busy doing that one precise thing that they specialized in and don’t pay attention to the fact that they’re life is flying by.
Instead, in Italy people are taught since elementary school a very broad variety of subjects. We have a more humanistic background that is common to everyone and this allows us to find a connection between each other and actually understand and have compassion for people around them. This is what Peter Godfrey-Smith argues in his article “On Being an Octopus”.
Godfrey-Smith believes that it is possible to understand what it is like to be something or someone else. He thinks that a very important part of civilization is to try understanding people’s feelings and emotions. This is the only way we can overcome the mystery that is hidden behind everything and this is what leads us to happiness (Godfrey-Smith).
After taking this course I finally found the answer to something that I have always wanted to figure out. I understood the reason why a machine-based system, in the long term, is not going to work as well as a system where people do different kinds of works and don’t only focus on a specific field.
The way that people in the United States can solve this problem is by trying to do more things by their selves. DIY is something that we should keep in mind every day because it spurs our creativity and it creates a way to interact with other people.
Thank to this class I realized how important the role of creativity is in a human’s life and how this is what the American system is lacking. I am glad that I finally found an answer to the reason why everything in the United States is so different; creativity is, in fact, what leads to true happiness for us and for all the people around us.
Lonsdale, Sarah. “Expert Advice: 10 Ways to Live with Less from Zero Waste Home: Remodelista.” Remodelista RSS. N.p., 03 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 May 2014.
Lehrer, Jonah. “‘How Creativity Works’: It’s All In Your Imagination.” NPR. NPR, 19 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 May 2014.
Godfrey-Smith, Peter. “On Being an Octopus.” Home. N.p., 03 June 2013. Web. 12 June 2014.