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Drew Ronk
Drew Ronk

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Reflection: (new) Magic Wand Questions

Even though I'm only a senior in college, I feel as though I've been asked questions about my aspirations and dreams a lot. You know, the "if you had a magic wand what would you do with your life" type things. I've pretty much always answered those with some version of "I don't know," and the reason for that is because I really don't. I grew up learning to think in aggressively practical terms, so the dreaming thing is still kind of new to me. I honestly can't stand the interview question: "Where do you think you'll be in five years?" because... I don't know where I'll be tomorrow, let alone half a decade from now. I get that's not the point of the question, but I digress.

Despite the fact that I'm not a huge fan of planning, or questions that make me think about the future, I'm gonna try to answer a few of them today. These were recently posed to me by a professor who told my class he's living his answers to these questions--so I figure answering them myself is worth a try.

If you could build an app, website, or technology of any kind, What would it do?

Simply put, I'd build a website that displays updated, easily understood information about the climate crisis. Yes, I care about the environment. The site's primary goal would be to provide unbiased and unfiltered accounts of the current and future consequences of climate change in a clear, digestible manner. Possible solutions (on an individual and societal level) would be included as well, but the priority is to show apathetic people why they should care. Another major goal of the site is to make it clear that it takes more than individual effort to solve this problem, mainly by comparing corporations and governments' contributions to this crisis alongside consumers. Corporations' decision to make climate change seem like an unsolvable predicament by placing all of the responsibility on individual consumers is absolutely horrible, and it's a narrative I'd like to change. I know it's lofty, but I don't really care.

Who would it be for? How would they use it? How would you use it?

My target audience for this site is someone who knows absolutely nothing about climate change. If knowledge is power, and action requires power, then helping people learn enough to do right by themselves and others is exactly what I want to do. My goal with this site isn't to belittle people, tell them they're wrong, or even change their opinions. Everyone deserves the opportunity to see a situation without there being some ulterior motive baked into its portrayal. I think this is an especially relevant problem with the rhetoric around climate change and the perceptions people maintain about it. Someone who visits the site could use it to see a different perspective, or just to see an explanation of the issue that isn't so overly technical or politically tainted that they can't get through it without feeling exhausted.

In turn, I would use this site as an opportunity to help others. Information shouldn't be stuck behind a paywall, and becoming a more informed person shouldn't require extreme effort or some sort of buy-in. Making this site free for visitors and as accessible as possible would allow me to utilize my skills to (hopefully) make a difference in someone's life.

If money was no concern, time no concern; what would you do with your life and the skills you've assembled if you could dedicate it to one thing?

I think the first thing I'd do is create the website I described above. It's something I've always been interested in doing, but I've never seen it as a source of revenue so much as an opportunity to do the right thing. Past that, I don't foresee myself doing software/web development on a daily basis. I enjoy it, but if it's not benefitting anyone it's a waste of my time. My passion is helping people, so that's what I'd dedicate my life to. I know that's ridiculously general, but I don't want to do just one thing and almost everything I currently do is because money and time are concerns. I'd likely use my programming skills to do it, but I'd just try to do right by others.

Learning new things and meeting new people are two of the most exciting things in life for me, so I'd devote a lot of my time to working for organizations who seek to improve the quality of life for those in adverse situations. More specifically, I'd like to focus on helping people without housing and those affected by climate change. I would start by working directly with those people while informing others of the realities of these issues (this is where web development could come in), but my eventual goal would be to work on policy that fixes the source of these problems. This isn't all I'd do with myself, I'd probably try new food, learn new skills, and travel as much as I physically can, but I want to spend most of my time making a difference in someone else's life.

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