Michael Sojka and his wife Jane moved to Mt. Shasta from Sunnyvale eighteen years ago. “It was the first time I made a heart decision, not a head decision. It was difficult for an analytical guy like me, but has turned out to be such a good move.” Michael was able to continue his career as a software architect at Seagate. He telecommuted Friday and Monday and drove to Silicon Valley for a mid-week stint in the office. “I liked my time in the Bay Area, but after three or four days I needed to leave.” The move had economic benefits. “We had a 1500 square foot house in Sunnyvale; nothing fancy. It more than tripled in value over the years we owned it. We sold it, moved here, and bought a place twice the size on two acres for less.” The move also had personal benefits. Jane’s the business manager for the local school district. “Life here is stress free.”
Six years ago Michael’s work in data storage and retrieval was outsourced to Asia. After getting laid off, he decided against continuing to work in Silicon Valley. He semi-retired and became a tour guide for high-end bicycle tours. “The hardest thing about leaving Seagate was not being around super intelligent people. I started guiding tours around Mt. Shasta, then Sonoma County and the Central Coast. These are exclusive tours, with 12 to 14 people and two full-time guides. The people who go on them are accomplished, interesting, and intelligent.”
Michael’s an independent thinker himself; wary of the messages the popular media delivers. “Politicians and media always play to my fears. It became clear after 911. That was my epiphany. If you look at history, you see a steady decrease in transparency from FDR through Kennedy, to Reagan, Bush II and Fox News. Watch any Fox News segment, the structure is the same. First, they tell you something that scares you. Then, they tell you something that pisses you off. Then, they agitate that anger and reassure you that your anger is justified.” It’s based on manipulating emotions and creating connections that don’t necessarily exist.
How will we live tomorrow?
“It seems like we’re on the cusp of big social, political, and economic change. Look at people like Elan Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla, and now Space X. He believes that our main source of travel on earth should be pneumatic tubes.
“The technology advances bring deep social change. Never in history have we had the age distribution we are about to experience. We’ve had the pyramid. Now it’s a rectangle. By 2050 it will be a trapezoid; there will be more old people than young.
“No matter what happens, life will be different. Demographics and technology access will drive the change. I am not scared of it personally, but that’s where conservatives have a hard time. They like hierarchy and structure. Technology is flattening society. That’s an uncomfortable place for them.”