We all want progress

People want to make progress in their lives.

Every single one of us wants a better life. We're all striving for more.

For many, a better life means having a warm meal, and maybe a roof over their head.

Others dream of building their own business. Some folks want to travel the world.

This yearning for a better tomorrow is what drives our behavior. It gives us ambition; it pushes us to overcome obstacles.

But eventually, many of us will run into a wall we can't climb over.

We stop making progress.

The longer we struggle without progress, the more frustration we feel.

And if you stay stuck too long, your frustration turns into desperation.

Desperate people do not make good decisions.

Christy Matta, reporting for PsychCentral, writes:

With increasing stress, our brains are wired to discount factual information and to rely heavily on emotional experiences.

Sometimes, people come together to tackle a common struggle.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a positive example of how a group can help its members achieve a better life.

Many entrepreneurs join a Chamber of Commerce, or a mastermind, for similar reasons: to make progress in collaboration with others.

But the same ills that affect the individual can also impact a community.

When progress is no longer being made, the common struggle gives way to shared frustration.

And if they stay stuck too long, their frustration turns into desperation.

Desperate communities do not make good decisions.

The cure for desperation is deliverance.

Beyond mere hope, people need help overcoming the obstacles in their lives.

They need a bridge: a way of getting back on the path of progress.

Looking at society through this lens, a few things become clear:

  1. Society is made up of individuals who are trying to make progress in their lives.
  2. The best way to understand people who aren't like you is to acknowledge the obstacles they face.
  3. The frustration a group feels is a multiple of how long they've struggled to make progress.
  4. Left unabated, an individual's frustration will turn to desperation.
  5. Desperation causes humans to act impulsively.
  6. Impulsive behavior is often destructive.

As Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Intercept:

The more economic suffering people endure, the angrier and more bitter they get, the easier it is to direct their anger to scapegoats.

If we want to avoid human chaos, we need to be less insular. We can't focus on making progress in our lives at the expense of others.

This is especially true for those of us who work in technology. There are consequences to automating tasks that previously provided jobs (and progress) for millions of people.


The tech culture has wrongly assumed that progress means innovation. People don't care about faster processors, smarter algorithms, or automated machines.

They just want a better life.

Published on November 10th, 2016
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