Not long ago I wanted to share all my impressions and findings with the world. After all, knowledge is useless if not shared.
As time passed by, I started to realise that it was a terrible waste of time. No one really cares what you have to say. Seems obvious now, but because I do care about sharing valuable ideas and knowledge, regardless of the person who expresses them, I just assumed others will do too. I know many individuals will argue that they do, but who they choose to listen to is often guided by their own self-esteem. They wouldn’t listen to a beggar in the street, but they would to a famous business man. Even though the beggar may be more honest in his life lessons than the business man who often spins a nice semi-fake story. Without a strong social position, your ideas are nothing.

So I will not be writing much from here on.

But I would like to share one last thing: the fundamentals of my logic and actions which give meaning to my existence.

I know my life, just like everyone else’s, is a bleep in the never ending darkness of space and time, a spark preceded and followed by infinity. And in the face of infinity, almost everything is meaningless: our homes, our cars, our fame, our lives, hopes and dreams.

Yet we give so much value to these small things in so far that people sell their organs for a new phone. It’s funny how, once we go beyond basic necessities, once we free ourselves from our struggle to survive, we find ourselves empty and aimless. For a time religion filled in this emptiness. But with religion withering away, our egos stepped in and set value to all these materialistic things in an attempt to give meaning to an otherwise meaningless life. We chase nothing but phantasms of our own mind.

Yet, as I wrote earlier, there is a dim, almost impossible hope that in the face of infinity, we may still find meaning to our existence. That’s because as individuals we may fade away and die, but as a collective we endure. Just pick up a book by Plato and read some passage, as you do his thoughts echo in your mind across millennia.  “Speak my name and I will live.” as an ancient Egyptian papyrus wrote.

Our collective knowledge, spirit, ideas and desire transcend the barriers of space and time and through it, our small, insignificant lives suddenly gain some meaning. We as individuals may die, but our thoughts and our genes live on in our collective consciousness. One can only hope that one day our distant offerings will reach the end of the universe and beyond and through them, we will too.

It is said we come with nothing in this world and leave with nothing, but in between we shape it and are shaped by it. If  there is any chance for our lives to have any meaning, however insignificant, we should make sure that those who follow us can pursue their path towards a bigger and brighter future. Our kindness will inspire them, our harshness will make them stronger, our greed and selfishness will chain them to the ground.

I choose to work towards that future and from that follow all my actions and attitudes.

I hope one day I will not be alone on this. That others would have figured it out and together we will all go to the end of the universe.

Has it ever happened to go crazy over someone without knowing why? I suspect the answer is “yes”. “Love at first sight” some call it. Never happened to me. But I get something very similar, I would call it “love at first impression”.

Some time ago I went to a Microsoft Summit in Eastern Europe, lots of geeks everywhere and obviously, I was among them. And while my company sent me there to make connections and seek the latest trends in software development, I discovered something entirely different: what makes me fall for someone.

Ever since my high school years I was the odd one when it came to girls, I liked them but I was not particularly interested in them. I knew I was not gay since guys represented a far less appealing sexual interest for me. But still, I pissed a lot of friends for not hooking up with that hot, awesome girl who everyone wanted to date and was only interested in me. Even my last girlfriend was afraid I might be gay, since my interest in “hot” girls seemed in her opinion “shallow” and “artificial”. Now I know why…

In the second day at this IT summit there was a presentation about “Windows Security”. As it turned out, this was less of a presentation but a beginner’s guide to hacking Windows 8.1. The speaker was a Polish girl, probably in her late 20s, blonde and relatively slim, couldn’t really make-out anything else since my myopia prevented me from clearly discerning her physical appearance. As the presentation went on, I became increasingly more fascinated by her (I cannot remember her name). She knew her away around Windows like no one I have seen before, the way she talked with a genuine sense of modesty, the way she was running those scripts and shell commands, her knowledge, speed and expertise were simply astounding, to me at least. At this point I didn’t care how she looked anymore, I was going crazy, and wanted to make love to her right there on that stage!

Fortunately, she was married.

As the presentation ended I remained in my seat stupefied, realising that even though I hardly knew how this person looked like (except she was physically fit), I couldn’t get her out of my mind. It took me a while to realise that this wasn’t my first time. Many years before, I had a similar experience with another very smart girl. So then it hit me – knowledge, intelligence and genuine modesty are a combination that simply makes me go crazy. No wonder I don’t find popular celebrities “hot”, they hardly qualify for these three characteristics.

Attraction may have nothing to do with pure physical appearance. As long as they are healthy looking, you can find someone hot for their mind and personality.

Do not judge for how I write, but for what I write.

In the past years, colleagues, friends, family, girlfriends have often criticised me for being … a pessimist. Since I am tired of justifying my pessimism, I have decided to write down my story, although, fundamentally it is a story about all of us.

I have always been the curious kind. Learning more about the world usually sparks my deepest emotions regardless of the beauty or ugliness of the things I witness. Fortunately for me, during my childhood, my thirst for knowledge had been satisfied with books, documentaries, field trips and even instruments (a microscope, a telescope, various electronics, etc.)

Later, during my teenage years, I had the opportunity to travel and visit many countries, meet many people and explore many capitals. Slowly, living in or just visiting famous cities, whether they were Paris or London, became less and less exciting. People from different countries, even though they may have dressed differently or spoke differently, or were more respectful, fundamentally started to seem all the same to me. As arrogant as this may sound, the truth is that for me the world was becoming smaller and smaller.

At the same time, in magazines, on TV and in movies, the future was looking better and better. Just a few centuries ago humans have set foot on the Moon, and the fall of the Berlin Wall filled our hearts with high expectations. Overall, the future looked bright.

All of us (especially Westerners) lived under the impression that there was nothing to stop us from solving the problems related to resources, poverty, corruption, so that we may reach beyond the limits of our planet. I was convinced that my generation will be different, that we will take the first steps towards a “wonderful” future.

This conviction led me to study physics and mathematics, in hope that one day I will become an accomplished physicist who will contribute to that bright future. Those aspirations seem childish now, but for a 17 year old kid, anything is possible.

However, before I applied to college, I had a moment of lucidity in which I realised that the technological progress of our world is not determined by the dreams of enthusiastic teenagers like me, nor by the benefits that it can bring, but by the will of the political establishment. Moreover, I was aware that it would not be wise to explore space as Europeans, Russians, Americans or Chinese. Not only because it would be completely inefficient, but also because it would be ridiculous to carry with us our earthly conflicts and start arguing over what patch of Moon belongs to whom, when we should focus on exploiting its resources for everyone’s benefit.

Thus, in the last minute I changed my mind and instead of following a career in physics or engineering, I chose to follow a career in international relations at a prestigious university in the United Kingdom. I thought that by doing so, I will have the best chances to help build a “better” future.

I was thrilled, certain that by going there I will learn how to help the world, how to manage the political and economic space in such a way that the distribution of resources and investments will benefit not only us today, but also countless generations to come. I was perfectly aware that my influence on the world will be mire at best. But I was not interested in feeding my ego, participating even in the slightest towards that “wonderful” future was more than enough for me. After all, even the most insignificant contribution is better than nothing. Strange as it may seem, I also felt a sort of responsibility for the world and its people. Most likely because I was aware that the “careless” life I was enjoying at the age of 20 was mostly thanks to those that were before me. It felt natural that in return, I should be preoccupied for those that will come after me, so that they too will enjoy the same quality of life as I did.

Unfortunately, the academic environment that I discovered had nothing in common with my enthusiasm and idealism. In the academic world and among my colleagues, their concerns were completely different from mine. Excluding the false preoccupation for those around them and their ephemeral friendships, mimicked for admiration and social prestige, almost everyone seemed to care only about their own personal and financial gains, advertised at different parties or social events. Initially I thought I lacked the ability to understand this world, but after 4 years of college I was certain that my preferences and expectations were parallel with this academic world.

To evade any misunderstandings: people have all the right to think of themselves and be egoistic. This is currently the rule in our world. But I am talking about universities that should represent the world’s elite and I am not exaggerating when I say that many of their graduates will reach important positions in ten-twenty-thirty years. Maybe I am absurd, but personally I was expecting their students to be different from others. Unfortunately, in 4 years of college I only met two people who were genuinely and unselfishly preoccupied by the future of our world. Otherwise, I met a lot of folks, driven by pure egoistic reasons, who would give their best to impress others with their preoccupation for different social causes or with their outstanding revelations discovered in some book or pint of beer.

What disappointed me even further was that the university invested no effort in helping us realise that our attitudes and way of thinking will determine our collective future. Most debates and discussions revolved around tolerance and discrimination, but most commonly about what theory of some group of scholars was better than another. Applying these theories to real world scenarios was usually off-limits, which is understandable, since most of them make no predictions that can truly be tested in the real world. Therefore, we were dragged into pointless debates wrapped in a subtle certainty that all of us there, participating in them, were somehow superior. Moreover, the discussions and the promoted way of thought focused almost entirely on “trendy” problems, and when attention was moved towards future developments, we all started to suffer from some form of acute mental myopia.

Even though I graduated with honours, I reassured myself thinking that, for some reason, I just did not understand that world. But I still hoped that as technology and communication evolves, it will start to penetrate deeper into the personal space of every individual, gradually changing their general attitude. I thought that as people become better informed, so their concerns will focus more on the actual and far-reaching future problems, and that the benefits of research and technology will become self-evident.

To my surprise, it seems the opposite is happening. We are indulging ourselves more and more into a virtual personal space, as the reality behind our screens is falling apart.

I am not just throwing around words, here are a few concrete examples:

  1. We kind of abused our planet through excessive deforestations and rampant pollution, and the effects will very soon become self-evident. No, I am not talking about warmer winters and rainier summers, I am talking about hundreds of millions of people who will suffer from starvation in the next 30-40 years. And not in some forsaken place in Africa, but right here, in our very own backyard. Few seem to genuinely care about this, although on words and “Likes” we are all great self-proclaimed environmentalists. Even sadder is that most “Green” NGOs or political parties come up with completely unrealistic proposals, with little regard for economic and social realities.

  1. Our ageing and declining population raises serious social and economic concerns, but the core of the problem is usually avoided. It mostly comes down to the lack of interest of current generations for conceiving more than one child (if they conceive one at all). I am aware that when it comes to children, everyone has the right to do as they see fit and I can understand that at our standard of living, having children can sometimes seem annoying and useless. The result however, is that in about 50 years entire societies will simply die out. Our biology has rules independent of our personal desires.

I find it alarming that this subject is very rarely opened to debate or it is immediately “solved” with the “immigration” solution. In the current conditions, immigration is nothing else but the replacement of one society with another. It is not a receipt for success, it is the symptom of a society which has failed biologically.

  1. Religious fundamentalism is gaining more ground. I have no issues with anyone’s religion, but when we have a large group of people who effectively reject any form of scientific research, without which we would still be travelling with ox and carriages across Europe, I think we have a serious problem. Even more so, given that a large part of this group can be found among the “immigrants” who solve our aging and declining population problem mentioned at point 2

  1. We are experiencing an economic crisis that I think will carry on for at least another decade. Because this is not just an economic crisis, it is a social crisis, rooted in our attitudes. We all want to live fine, happy lives, but between what we want and what we do for what we want, currently there is a massive chasm. I do not want to criticise our attitudes, because this is a debate which I can hardly cover with my thoughts. But I can criticise our lack of debating this subject on TV, on the internet or even over a pint of beer with our friends. The fact that we do not ask ourselves if this crisis we are experiencing is caused by us, but we mystically attribute it to “others”, suggests some sort of social schizophrenia.

To finalise…

When we were kids, in the 80s-90s, we were promised that by now we will have outposts on the Moon, massive space stations and our feet would have left their imprint on the dust of Mars. That our leaders will be more peaceful, wiser and less corrupt. That if we will study and work hard, our value and effort will be recognised, and that those who are lazy and mischievous will be prevented from climbing the social ladder.

In exchange, we have economic stagnation, radical demographic changes, natural catastrophes and resource depletion. The world sees these things but does not feel them, because their effects do not yet have a significant impact on our lives. Somehow, everyone lives under the impression that nothing bad will happen, that the future I am talking about is just a bad dream – they criticise me and tell me to be positive.

I resign myself with the thought that as “pessimistic” as I may be, and despite all I have written above, I still hope that one day humans will fly towards the stars. But I would have been much happier if they were “us”.

Translated version below.

Te rog sa nu ma judeci dupa cum scriu, ci dupa ce scriu.

In ultimii ani, colegii, prietenii, familia, iubitele, m-au criticat mereu pentru ca sunt … pesimist. Pentru ca m-am saturat sa dau explicatii legate de pesimismul meu, am decis sa-mi pun in scris povestea, desi in esenta cred ca este povestea tuturor.

Mereu am fost o fire curioasa care vrea sa descopere lumea. Pentru mine, fiecare lucru, indiferent daca este frumos sau urat, are farmecului lui pentru ca pur si simplu exista. In copilarie am avut norocul ca setea mea de cunoastere sa fie satisfacuta de carti, documentare, excursii si chiar instrumente (microscop, telescop, electronice, etc).

In anii adolescentei mele am avut ocazia sa ma plimb si sa vad multe tari, sa cunosc oameni de peste tot si sa vad multe capitale. Treptat, orasele, fie care erau Paris sau Londra, incepusera sa nu mi se mai para asa de speciale. Oamenii din alte tari, desi se imbracau sau vorbeau altfel sau erau mai respectuosi, in esenta incepusera sa mi se para aceeasi. Oricat de arogant ar suna, pentru mine lumea devenea tot mai mica.

In paralel, in reviste, la tv si in filme, ni se promitea tuturor un viitor fericit. Cu doar cateva decenii in urma oamenii pasisera pe Luna, iar caderea blocului comunist ne-a umplut pe toti de optimism. Viitorul suna bine.

Cu totii (romani si occidentali) aveam impresia ca nu mai era nimic care sa ne opreasca in a rezolva problemele legate de resurse, saracie, coruptie pentru ca in final sa ne extindem dincolo de limitele planetei noastre. Eram convins ca generatia mea va fi altfel si ca noi vom face primul pas spre acest „minunat” viitor.

Convingerea aceasta m-a determinat sa invat matematica si fizica, in speranta ca voi deveni un inginer sau fizician desavarsit care o sa puna umarul la acest viitor „stralucit”. Acum mi se par puerile aspiratiile mele de atunci, dar, pentru un pusti de 17 ani, orice este posibil.

Totusi, inainte sa dau la facultate am avut un moment de luciditate in care am realizat ca progresul tehnologic al lumii noastre nu este dirijat de visele tinerilor entuziasti ca mine si nici de beneficiile pe care le aduce, ci de vointa sistemului politic. Mai mult, eram constient ca nu vom putea explora spatiul ca europeni, rusi, americani sau chinezi. Nu numai pentru ca ar fi fost complet ineficient, ci pentru ca mi se parea aiurea sa ducem cu noi conflictele de acasa si sa incepem sa ne certam asupra cui apartine nu stiu ce petic de Luna, in loc de a-l coloniza sau de a-l exploata in beneficiul tuturor.

Asa ca, in ultimul minut, in loc sa urmez o cariera in fizica sau inginerie, am ales sa urmez o cariera in relatii internationale la una din universitatile de renume din Marea Britanie. Am crezut ca asa voi avea cele mai mari sanse sa ajut la construirea unui viitorului mai „frumos”.

Eram atat de entuziasmat, convins ca o sa merg acolo si o sa invat cum sa ajut lumea, cum sa gestionez spatiul economic si politic, astfel incat distribuirea resurselor si a investitiilor sa aduca benficii maxime nu numai pentru noi acum, dar si pentru zecile de generatii care ne vor urma. Eram perfect constient ca impactul meu asupra lumii urma sa fie cel mai probabil infim. Dar nu dorinta de a-mi hrani egoul ma dusese acolo, ci dorinta de a participa, macar cu o farama la realizarea acelui viitor „minunat” la care visam. Pentru mine o farama era mai mult decat nimic. In plus, simteam un fel de responsabilitate fata de lume si oameni. Probabil pentru ca eram constient ca, la 20 de ani, viata „fara griji” pe care o duceam se datora mai mult celor care au fost inaintea mea decat mie. Asa ca mi se parea normal ca si eu, la randul meu, sa fiu preocupat de cei care vor veni dupa mine, astfel incat calitatea vietii lor sa nu fie cu nimic mai prejos decat a mea.

Din nefericire, mediul academic descoperit de mine nu avea nimic de a face cu entuziasmul si idealismul meu. In lumea academica si printre colegii mei, preocuparile erau cu totul altele. Trecand peste falsa preocupare pentru cei din jur si prieteniile efemere, mimate doar pentru admiratie si recunoastere sociala, aproape tuturor le pasa doar de realizarile lor financiare si personale, facute publice la diferite petreceri si evenimente sociale. Desi initial am zis ca sunt eu limitat si nu inteleg lumea aceea, dupa 4 ani de facultate eram deja destul de convins ca preferintele si asteptarile mele erau paralele cu aceasta lume.

Nu vreau sa fiu inteles gresit: oamenii au tot dreptul sa se gandeasca la ei si sa fie egoisti. In lumea in care traim aceasta este regula. Doar ca eu vorbesc despre niste institutii care ar trebui sa reprezinte elita lumii si nu exagerez cand zic ca multi dintre absolventii lor vor ocupa pozitii destul de importante peste zece- douazeci-treizeci de ani. Poate sunt absurd, dar personal eu ma asteptam ca ei sa fie diferiti fata de altii. Din nefericire, in 4 ani de facultate nu am cunoscut decat doua persoane care erau preocupate autentic si dezinteresat de viitorul lumii in care traim. Altfel, am cunosc o gramada de persoane care incercau sa impresioneze pe unii si pe altii cu preocuparea lor pentru diferite cauze sociale din motive pur egocentrice, sau cu revelatii gasite in cine stie ce carte sau pahar de bere.

Ceea ce m-a deziluzionat si mai mult a fost faptul ca facultatea nu se straduia deloc sa ne faca constienti asupra faptului ca atitudinea si gandirea noastra o sa influenteze viitorul. De regula, dezbaterile si temele din facultate se invarteau in jurul tolerantei si discriminarii, dar, de cel mai multe ori se vorbea despre care teorie a unui grup de academicieni este mai buna decat alta. Totul impachetat subtil in convingerea celor care participau la aceste dezbateri ca noi, toti de acolo, eram cumva superiori. Mai mult, temele de discutie si modul de gandire promovat punea accent puternic pe problemele la „moda”, iar cand venea vorba de viitor toti sufeream de o miopie acuta.

Desi am terminat cu brio facultatea, m-am resemnat zicand ca, cine stie, poate nu inteleg eu lumea aceea prea bine. Dar am ramas cu speranta ca pe masura ce tehnologia informatiei va penetra mai mult spatiul personal al fiecarui om, treptat si atitudinea generala a populatiei se va schimba. Credeam ca oamenii vor deveni mai bine informati, mai preocupati de problemele reale actuale si viitoare, iar beneficiile investitiilor in cercetare si tehnologie vor deveni evidente.

Dimpotriva, am senzatia ca lumea se complace din ce in ce mai mult intr-un spatiu personal construit virtual, in timp ce realitatea din spatele monitoarelor noastre se prabuseste.

Nu arunc doar cuvinte, pot sa dau cateva exemple concrete:

  1. Ne-am cam batut joc de planeta prin defrisari abuzive si poluare exagerata iar efectele nu vor intarzia sa apara. Nu, nu e vorba ca iernile vor fi mai calde si verile mai ploioase, vorbim de sute de milioane de oameni care vor suferi de foame in urmatorii 30-40 de ani. Si nu intr-un loc uitat de lume prin Africa, ci chiar si aici, la noi acasa. Totusi, nimanui nu pare sa-i pese prea mult, desi pe vorbe si like-uri suntem toti mari ecologisti. Mai trist este ca ONG-uri sau partidele politice care se lupta pentru mediu vin de cele mai multe ori cu propuneri complet nerealiste, care nu tin cont de contextele economice si sociale.

  2. Ne confruntam cu o imbatranire alarmanta a populatiei generata de lipsa copiilor. Generatiile actuale pur si simplu sunt dezinteresate sa faca mai mult de un copil (daca il fac si pe acela). Pana la urma este dreptul fiecaruia sa faca cum crede si nu neg ca am atins un nivel de confort la care copiii pot sa para ceva enervant si inutil. Dar rezultatul este ca, in 50 de ani, societati intregi pur si simplu se vor stinge. Natura isi face treaba, dar ceea ce mi se pare alarmant este ca acest subiect este foart rar deschis sau este inchis imediat prin solutia „imigratie”. In conditiile date, imigratia nu reprezinta altceva decat inlocuirea unei societati cu alta. Nu este o reteta de succes, este simptomul unei societati care a esuat biologic.

  3. Fundamentalismul religios este din ce in ce mai puternic. Nu am nimic cu religia nimanui, dar cand avem deja un grup foarte mare de persoane care efectiv resping orice forma de cercetare stiintifica, cercetare fara de care si acum tot cu boii si caruta mergeam prin Europa, cred ca avem o problema. Mai mult, o parte din acest grup se regaseste printre „imigrantii” care rezolva problema deficitului de populatie de la punctul 2. Daca lucrurile vor continua asa cum sunt acum, nu m-ar mira daca peste 50 de ani in Londra se va propune instaurarea legii islamice.

  4. Traim o criza economica care personal cred ca o sa mai tina inca cel putin un deceniu. Pentru ca nu este doar o criza economica, este si o criza sociala, fundamentata in atitudinile noastre fata de ceea ce vrem sa avem si ceea ce vrem sa facem ca sa avem. De multe ori, intre cele doua este un gol imens. Nu vreau sa critic aici atitudinile noastre, pentru ca nu pot sa cuprind cu mintea amploarea acestei discutii. Dar pot sa critic lipsa dezbaterii acestui subiect la TV, pe internet si chiar la bere cu prietenii. Faptul ca nu ne intrebam daca criza pe care o traim nu este de fapt o criza cauzata de noi, ci o atribuim intr-un mod mistic „altora”, sugereaza un fel de schizofrenie sociala.

Ca sa finalizez…

Cand eram copii, in anii 80-90, ni s-a promis ca pana acum vom avea baze pe Luna, vom avea statii spatiale si ne vom plimba pe Marte. Ca liderii nostri vor fi mai pasnici, mai intelepti si mai putin corupti. Ca daca vom munci mult, vom invata si vom fi destepti, ni se va recunoaste valoarea si efortul, iar cei care sunt lenesi si perfizi nu vor putea sa urce pe scara sociala.

In schimb, avem stagnare economica, schimbari demografice radicale, catastrofe naturale si epuizarea resurselor. Lumea le vede dar nu le simte, pentru ca efectele lor nu au inca un impact semnificativ. Cumva, toti au senzatia ca nimic rau nu se va intampla, ca viitorul despre care vorbesc eu este doar un vis urat – ma critica si imi spun sa gandesc pozitiv.

Ma impac cu gandul ca asa „pesimist” cum sunt si in ciuda a tot ce am scris mai sus, eu tot sper ca intr-o buna zi oamenii vor zbura spre stele. Doar ca m-as fi bucurat daca am fi fost „noi” aceia.

From my perspective, Carl Sagan has literally brought a revolution in the way people see and understand the world. Although it could be argued that his view on our society is in many ways self-evident, it is the beautiful way in which he can articulate and express this view that is really outstanding and touches not only the mind, but also the “soul” of those who are willing to listen to him. It is highly likely that his perspective on humanity and our place in the universe will leave an important mark on our history, even if this claim may sound farfetched today.

My main argument in this regard is the fact that, in his attempt to popularize science, Sagan has struggled to give meaning to human existence in a way which inspires us to do greater things, things which far surpass our focus on everyday personal achievements. In this way, his view on our place in the universe can give meaning to our lives in a way similar to religion.

I will leave you to him now: