Not Really Spreading The News

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend a couple days walking the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan with a good friend from college. Along the way, I ate a ton of good food, did some tourist-y stuff, did some nerd tourist-y stuff, went to church at Hillsong NYC, and saw my favorite band of all time Tower of Power slay at Brooklyn Bowl. It was a blast that even driving home in a monsoon couldn’t dull.

One thing I didn’t do was take a ton of pictures or post on social media.

Partly that’s because the times when it would’ve been most convenient to post, I was at my hotel which was a black hole of cell service (in spite of being able to see over a dozen cell towers from my window) and had wifi that was only slightly less spotty than a rented room in the deepest parts of the Amazon. But it was mostly because I didn’t feel like it.

There’s something about walking around New York that’s very peaceful for me. Maybe that seems an odd way to describe being in a city that’s famous for never sleeping, but that’s the best way I can describe it. The constant movement of people, cars, buses, taxis, and lights reminds me of staring at waves on the ocean or a fire. You never see the same pattern twice because it’s always changing.

To get a little more strange, I guess you could describe it as a reverential attitude that kept me from reaching for my phone (unless it was for getting directions). For the same reason I didn’t want to take a picture of the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center, I didn’t want to spend too much time snapping photos. Because I wanted to really feel those moments rather than worrying about capturing them in pixels.

Now, there’s also a chance that I’m romanticizing my lack of social media savvy as well, which I’m also okay with. Either way, I feel like I was present for the whole weekend, got some much needed time with an old friend, and got up close and personal with a band that’s now closer to an American musical institution than anything else. Which is all I really cared about anyways.

Influencers

The idea of being “an influencer” has gone from being an unknown to a badge of honor to a bit of a slur is just under five years. On one hand, that’s nature of how quickly the world moves these days. On the other hand, considering how fast we move, that’s not a bad run either.

However, the idea that people aspire to be “an influencer” on social media and that a handful of people actually make a living (some quite a comfortable one) at it, is a bit crazy on the face of things. For someone like me who grew up when the “The Internet” (and yeah we capitalized it back then… along with beating our clothes against a rock to clean them) was something like Prodigy or AOL, garish colors, and that wonderfully annoying squawk as your dial-up modem merged you onto The Information Superhighway. Terribly exciting stuff back then. But the idea that someone could be famous for being online and make a living for no other discernible skill besides existing and knowing how to make a selfie video? Kinda strange.

Then I had a chance to watch a video with Jeff Bridges this morning during my workout. The whole thing is a good watch, but the bit I’m focusing on starts at about 2:31…

A little reference material right off the bat, and mostly for my own sake. Buckminster Fuller was an architect, system theorist, designer, author, inventor, and futurist. Trim tabs are used in boats and aircraft, and are small control surfaces attached to a larger control surface.

Fuller used the idea of a trim tab metaphorically to great effect, which is what Jeff Bridges is getting at here. The idea that moving the trim tab (an individual) a little bit causes a low pressure that eventually turns the whole rudder around which then pulls the whole boat around is fascinating. It’s a revelation and also vaguely frustrating because it’s one of those things I feel my brain should’ve really worked out on its own a long time ago. But I digress.

To me, this is a shot of energy into the mainline. No matter what the political or social environment, I think everyone feels powerless at some point – that there’s absolutely nothing they can do, as an individual, that will make any kind of impact on the society or world as a whole. This despite having hundreds of examples where the actions of one person had a cascading effect that led to change. It’s easy to hand wave those away because we can put those individuals in a box labelled “special”, which implies they’ve done something we can’t.

Personally, I think all it requires is a shift in perspective and effort. At most points in my life where I’ve sat in the doldrums, it’s because I’m too lazy to either shift my perspective or do something that would begin to create forward movement. That’s not to say that depression or sickness doesn’t play a part, but let’s face it – that’s not always the case. There’s a lot of times when I just didn’t want to get off the couch, literally or metaphorically speaking.

The perspective shift is that we might not get a chance to see the change. While we can all effect change in some small way, not all of us will be around to see the results – our change is a generational change. Really, that can be some of the most important change there is.

Time Suck, Thy Name Is Facebook

I’m not sure exactly when I joined Facebook. I just tried to check and wound up spending 10 minutes checking on a bunch of other stuff.

This is what my life has become.

At some point in the last 10 years or so, I joined Facebook and immediately got into the “who can get more friends” contest with my wife. It was fun to make contact with people I’d hadn’t seen in person since high school graduation, find some college friends, and generally putter around the site. But at some point, things took a turn. Continue reading →