Enabling Structures

It’s vital, I think, to give ourselves space, time, and energy to process difficult moments, to cope with cumbersome realities, and to undertake the (at times ponderous) process of healing, rebuilding, and accepting.

That said, I also think it’s possible to overcompensate so that we’re so laden with support systems and slathered with metaphorical exoskeletons that we lose our capacity (and/or sense of our capacity) to do, grow, overcome, and flourish under our own steam.

We’re all unique people with different attributes and varying ceilings and floors (in terms of our capacities and capabilities), and we’re all acting under the weight of different hindrances and hobblings.

Alongside those internal realities, some of us will also be born into circumstances that are artificially limiting, while others will be blessed with relative wings—these benefits and burdens having nothing to do with our inherent worth, and everything to do with random, uncaring happenstance.

So we need these sorts of structures in our lives, and some of us will need more (and more potent versions) of them than others. And we’re frankly fortunate to have access to such an abundance of options in this regard, even if these buttresses are imperfect, and access to them is uneven.

That said, whatever our chance-imbued circumstances, we ideally seek out and adopt augmentations that help us do the things we care about, live the lives we want to live, and become the people we’d like to be while also maintaining a sense of which supplementary scaffoldings will amplify what’s there—making us mightier and more capable over time—and which will replace (and consequently, enfeeble) aspects of ourselves we don’t want to lessen.

Anything we use to enhance our capacities (or dilute our weaknesses) can lean one way or the other, from the implements we wield, to the relationships we maintain, to the habits and rituals that help shape our days.

This is an especially pressing matter right now, though, at a moment in which systems capable of generating convincing images, videos, writing, games, and other such (until now, mostly human-made) devisings are becoming commonplace.

Powerful automation can serve us (and society) in countless ways, but such tools can also enhance or diminish us depending on how we choose to leverage and incorporate them (or not) into our lives.

Such apparatuses can be used like exercise equipment at the gym, working our bodies in new and interesting (and broadly beneficial) ways, or they can become something like muscular robot arms, lifting our burdens for us (yay!) but depleting our strength and capacity as a consequence (boo!).

In some cases, then, we’ll genuinely benefit from external supports that reduce our strain and grant us additional powers.

In others, though, the short-term benefits of such liberation will wane in comparison to the more significant and long-term diminutions we suffer.

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