Out with the Old, in with… What, Exactly?

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Well, here we are. 2020 is now hindsight and 2021 is upon us. It can’t be any worse than 2020, or at least that’s what some would believe.

I don’t like to be pessimistic. I consider myself to be a realistic optimist (or an optimistic realist, depending on the day). While 2020 was a pretty terrible year overall, I am probably one of the few who didn’t moan and complain. I embraced it for what it was and it turned out pretty well in the end.

For example, in 2020, I:

  • Started a business (pre-COVID, but did fairly well despite COVID, using virtual networking and meetings to my advantage)
  • Earned more than any year prior (thanks to steady employment and my new business)
  • Saved a ton of money (by not commuting, adopting a pseudo-minimalist philosophy, and having a super-saver attitude in general)
  • Made several dozen new friends/acquaintances and grew my network
  • Learned (taught myself) a lot about web design/development and digital marketing
  • Read thirty-nine (39) books (well down from years prior, but that was because I was working more—and reading for quality over quantity)
  • Vacationed and took weekend hiking trips with my family

Of course, I’m counting the year’s attributes that matter to me. Working from home or being more “confined” in general hasn’t bothered me because I prefer working from home and I don’t “get out” just to “get out”. (I value my time greater than most and squeeze more out of it than most, thus I abhor commuting and sitting in traffic. I do not waste time, nor do I like it when others waste my time.) Not being able to travel wasn’t a big deal to me either, because I could still travel to most of the places I’d want to visit anyway (such as national and state parks, as opposed to destinations abroad).

I’m grateful that neither myself nor anyone close to me got COVID. That could have put a big damper on the year. Not being able to go to events like church did put a damper on the year—even with some churches holding socially-distanced services, my family and I opted to stay at home. I can’t stand wearing a mask, anyway.

All that to say, I realize that 2020 was not fun for most, but overall it wasn’t too bad for me. It could have been a heck of a lot worse. And I give all the glory to God that it turned out for me the way it did.

But now, the clock has rolled over and the calendars have changed. It’s 2021! It’s going to be everything that 2020 was supposed to be! Right?!

From my perspective, it’s hard to say. To me, 2021 so far seems like 2020 Version 2. When out and about, we’re still having to wear masks and socially distance. Small businesses as a whole are still struggling. There are still restrictions on travel, and in some places around the world, more severe restrictions than at the end of 2020. There has been no major upswing in the global economy that I can tell (given that I’m not an economist).

2021 has also already been a disappointment, at least to me. The false-flag capital riot on January 6th, the censorship by Big Tech on January 8th, and election fraud culminating in the inauguration of an illegitimate administration on January 20th all reinforce to me that the Deep State of the United States really is deep. I’m just calling it as I see it.

So much has happened already. What does the rest of the year hold? Here are a few of my off-the-cuff predictions from my optimistic realist perspective:

  • The global pandemic situation will remain about the same through at least Q1 and possibly through Q2. By Q3, we should expect to see fewer and fewer restrictions on social gatherings. Businesses, travel, and then the global economy will start to open back up. In the U.S., some states (likely the more conservative ones) will continue to lead this effort, although other states (the more liberal ones) will suddenly begin to lower COVID restrictions because (surprise, surprise) they will have proven that draconian lockdowns do not work. This sudden decision to open up has already happened in big cities like Chicago, by the way. Obviously there’s no correlation with the fact that there’s a new administration (insert sarcasm here). I do see a possibility that, globally speaking, things could get worse before they get better, given that new strains of the virus have apparently been detected in countries like South Africa and the United Kingdom. But, overall, I don’t see another full year of lockdowns—I don’t think economies could survive it, and I think people in some places would outright revolt, as they have in countries like The Netherlands.
  • There could be (and I believe there already is) a push for a COVID ID or passport for those who receive a vaccine (not the vaccine, as there is more than one type). This would be used to decide whether one can travel, enter certain establishments, receive healthcare, and more. Some people won’t think much of this, because how different is it from a driver’s license or passport? But others, like myself, who are skeptical of the current COVID vaccines will balk at this because it is seen as a way of inhibiting freedom or forcing compliance. It may not be the “mark of the beast”, but it could certainly be something that could severely limit one’s ability to do everyday things or work at certain employers.
  • Censorship by Big Tech will continue. Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google will continue to weaponize the First Amendment in the United States, as well as free speech abroad. Those whose voices are silenced, and those who finally see the robber baron-esque amount of power these companies have, will flock to new platforms like Gab, Parler, and BitChute, as many already have. Through new platforms like these, we will see the rise of Little Tech, the David standing up to take on Goliath. Despite all this, and all other things equal, a transition away from Big Tech’s services will be slow. Most people will continue to use the major platforms because of their convenience and market dominance—people are slow to abandon what’s familiar, even when they realize that they are feeding the machine that is tracking every aspect of their lives. What could expedite this is a major revelation—for example, another Snowden or Assange moment that completely destroys any remaining trust the public has in Big Tech. And there very well could be one or more of those world-changing moments in the near future, though I’m not sure I’d bet on it.
  • In the same vein as above, a small percentage of the global population that has truly “woken up” to the immense power wielded by Big Tech will begin to take their privacy, security, and freedom of speech seriously. Those who realize that Big Tech is collecting data on them from their smartphones, computers, the programs they use, and more will start adopting alternatives such as de-Googled phones, start using more secure programs and web browsers (like Brave), and stop using services that data-mine them. Remember, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, so when the product is free, you’re probably the product. And when it comes to “smart home” devices like Alexa and Ring, why pay to let someone spy on you in your own home or in your neighborhood?
  • Distrust in the mainstream media, elected officials, and “experts” will continue. I won’t say much more on this, because one need only look at the glaring lies and deceptions that have happened around COVID. Whether it’s Dr. Fauci in February saying that COVID won’t pose a risk to the U.S., or the media glorifying the efforts of states like New York to “stop the spread” while states like Florida that actually stopped the spread got lambasted, the mainstream networks are all but dead to those who are awake. “Fake news” is real.
  • The political divide in the United States will remain as-is, if not widen. Whether you agree or not with President Trump, you cannot deny that he stoked the fires that were smoldering in many Americans’ hearts for quite some time: the feeling that their voices were not heard, that their government no longer represented them, that their values and liberties were being trampled on. And in the last month of his first term, as people from his own party railed against him and his supporters, he indirectly revealed the truth that there is a uni-party in this country. Sadly, I don’t think the mainstream media and the new administration are not going to cease from marginalizing conservative values just because the biggest threat to the media and the establishment’s existence no longer sits in the Oval Office.
  • Along with the above, people on both sides of the aisle are going to start getting more involved in politics, starting at the local level. Citizens will challenge cities, cities will challenge counties, counties will challenge states, and states will challenge the federal government. Much of this has already happened as a result of COVID lockdown restrictions, but I don’t see it slowing down, especially as at least half the voting population feels marginalized as it is. I also think this will be the case in other countries, particularly in European and Asian nations.

Again, those are just a few spontaneous thoughts on what 2021 is going to look like. Are these things good or bad? I think there are good and bad aspects to both, but when all is said and done, I think there will be more good that comes out of all this.

So, what about for me personally? So far, my personal 2021 has been a lot like my personal 2020—more of the same, which isn’t a bad thing. I think for Q1 and maybe Q2 things will remain about the same, which I am okay with. That said, I have set goals and intend to make personal changes this year:

  • I want to find a full-time job that I feel I am a better fit for. I am very grateful for the job I have, especially in tumultuous times like these, but I do not want to stay where I am longer than I have to. My current role has me placed on a career path that I’m not sure I want to stay on. I don’t know where else I’d like to go, but then again, I’ve always been one of those people who figured out what he didn’t want to do rather than what he did.
  • I want my job to be a work-from-home position. Both my past jobs allowed me to work the vast majority of my time from home. I worked my current job in a cubicle for two years and determined quickly that I don’t like commuting, spending most of my waking hours in front of a computer in a sterile box, the sounds and annoyances of the office, and so forth. Thanks to COVID, I’ve been working from home for over ten months now, and I have no intention of going back to an office. I do enjoy being around people (in moderation!), so I miss aspects of human interaction. But for me, the benefits of working home or remotely outweigh the disadvantages. And frankly, for certain jobs and due to many factors, I believe remote work is the future—COVID just accelerated it.
  • I want to keep growing my business on the side at the same rate I’m currently growing it, if not a little faster. I worked hard last year to find clients, then serve them once I found them. I’ve been blessed to reach a point where I am starting to receive referrals from my clients and others in my network, so I don’t have to spend as much time prospecting. I will not compromise on doing my best work for all my clients, and I believe that will (and already has) come back to bless my business. I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow, so I choose to sow good work and goodwill. My business is not at the point where it could replace my primary income, and I’m not looking to rapidly scale up. I just want to do good work for good people and enjoy the benefits of extra income, extra skills, and extra visibility in the market.
  • I want to learn more about cybersecurity. I have had a passive interest in cybersecurity and online privacy for a while, and I let it go to the side because I thought it was “too complicated” to learn about and get good at. Plus, my college offered only one undergrad class on the subject, and I heard from fellow students that the class wasn’t all that great. But if there’s one thing I learned from starting a business, it’s that I can learn any skill if I apply myself and have the right resources. Will it just be a personal interest, a possible career path, or some additional aspect to my business? I don’t know yet—maybe all three!—but I’m going to explore it and see where it leads. If anything, I hope to use what I learn to educate others about things like how to protect their data from Big Tech (and perhaps governments) and how to avoid being hacked or falling prey to social engineering scams (which eventually wind up in one being hacked).
  • I am going to write and self-publish a book. In 2019, I wrote and self-published my first book, How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t. Late last year, I wrote and self-published a short e-book titled Reflections at Quarter Life that I “soft-launched” after Christmas. (I plan to produce a paperback version soon.) I believe the book I write this year is going to be a collection of short stories. I’ve already got dozens of ideas rolling around in my head; I just need to start crystalizing them. Some of the stories I’m thinking of could be spun off into full-length novels, which may be a plan for the future. If anything, I’m going to use 2021 to get my writing muscles in shape and prepare to write a full-length novel in 2022.

Well, those are the main things. I’ve got other goals and dreams I’m working on, such as learning Latin on Duolingo and reading fifty books, but I consider those to be smaller side-projects that feed into my bigger life vision and purpose. There are also some bigger things I’m thinking about, such as additional services I can offer through my business, but those are still on the drawing board.

In summary, so far 2021 has just been 2020 2.0. But, I see hope on the horizon. At the end of the day, everything that happens is what we make of it. God willing, I intend to make 2021 a great year regardless of what happens in the world, by working diligently, embracing the right opportunities, and rolling with the punches. I encourage you, dear friend, to do the same.

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