Escaping The Cubicle: How We’re Moving From The Industrial Age To The Information Age

The Newsroom
The Newsroom

Since we were very young (and also very impressionable) we were raised on a certain idea of how life is supposed to go, and that idea comes with milestones that ultimately lead you to a happy and successful life.

Here is how the fairy tale goes:

“If you work hard in school and get good grades, you will be able to get into a good college.  Once you go to college, if you study hard enough, you will earn a degree that will allow you to get a job that earns you great money.  If you plan and save this money the right way, you will get to retire at 65 and you will have all of the freedom in the world to do what you want.”

Have you ever stopped to think about whether or not this was the right way to go?

Have you ever asked yourself why you are doing what you do?

Lets take for example all of you college students. Let me pose to you this question, “Why are you in school?” I bet I can guess what some of your answers might be.

“My parents told me I had to.” “So I can get a good job.” “Because that’s what you do after you graduate high school”. 

I feel like the answers should sound more like this.

“So that I can find out who I really am and what interests me most.”

“So that I can collaborate with my peers and create new ideas that can help others.” “So that I can become a contributor to the overall betterment of the world.”

School doesn’t want you to have that mindset. Being an individual, being a thinker, being an innovator, are things that are actually discouraged in school. Curiosity is seen as disobedience. Challenging and questioning society and the way it operates is seen as insubordination. Exploring ideas and thoughts that are outside of the rigid guidelines of the curriculum is unwelcome at these so-called “institutions of higher learning”.  The reason why these things are discouraged is because individualism, curiosity, and creativity are counterintuitive to the goals of corporations. If you look at the structure of educational institutions, they are run from the top down like the corporations. The primary goal of educational institutions is to prepare you for a career, not to prepare you for life.

A common theme I see among recent graduates is that their “education” hasn’t given them any of the tools they need to operate in the daily world. Here are some of the classes that generally aren’t taught in school that I think should be taught:

Leadership 101

Emotional intelligence 305

Financial literacy 420

Intro to compassion 101

Mindfulness and Meditation 212

Relationships and Intimacy 495

I am not here to say that education is bad. I believe that education is the most important and vital component to a well-run society. I would counter, however, that the sole regurgitation of facts and a rigid grading system, that uses shame, fear of failure, and comparison to peers as motivation, is bad.

We are moving from the industrial age into the age of information. Scratch that; We ARE IN the information age right now. Information and ideas are being processed at blinding speeds nowadays, and the amount of time for these innovations to generate is only going to decrease. Being skilled at one thing and getting a piece of paper for it isn’t good enough anymore; many recent college graduates can attest to that.  It used to be that, if you had a degree, you were basically guaranteed a job. It’s not like that anymore. College degrees are becoming a dime a dozen, and I truly believe that they are on their way to becoming obsolete. Employers are saying that the number one problem they have with recent graduates is their lack of critical thinking skills and ability to solve complex and changing problems. The days or rigidity are over; the days of climbing the ladder are over; the ladder itself has become obsolete. With the rate that information is moving these days, I believe it is a little shortsighted to feel that your current way of thinking is going to be beneficial to you even five years from now. Evolution happens in many forms, and those who refuse to change may become whittled out of the equation in the long run. That sounds harsh, but I think its true. Quit looking for a job to save you, quit thinking that it’s the government’s job or your employer’s job to provide you well being. It is up to you.  Learn and grow every single day. Be willing to adapt to any situation and take opportunities as they arise. If you can do that, I think you will survive just fine in this new era of society. TC mark


More From Thought Catalog