We spend too much time attacking imaginary enemies.
This is especially true when it comes to the Internet and technology. Change comes so quickly, we find it difficult not to constantly try to predict it’s next move. And it’s the pace of change that’s driving the bulk of our behavior.
It’s further complicated by the ideologies we all bring to the battle. We each have our thoughts about what should or shouldn’t be, what will or won’t happen, why the technology we love should survive and others should die. For the most part, the debates have little tangible value. Most of the people debating have no direct impact on the future outcome. They’re actually commentators on a fight, not the fighters. So, the arguments are philosophical at best.
I recently read Gregory Hays’ translation of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. In the first few pages he talks about “debts and lessons.” Rusticus, one of his teachers, taught him this; “Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric.” Most of our debates about “what’s next” in technology and social media are just that… exercises in the art of rhetoric.
There’s no way to declare a winner in the present and no joy in victory when the future ultimately reveals itself. They’re not really our victories. Besides, we don’t have time for celebrations. We’ve already moved into our box seat to comment on the next skirmish.
In the end, the future technologies and platforms don’t matter as much as the values they spring from. Those are worth fighting for. That is a battle worth getting out of our seats to join. And I definitely want to be the one in the stadium fighting, not the commentator.
I need to do a better job of identifying what are windmills and what are real enemies.
Derek Overbey says
Well said Jeff. I’m glad I have great context around this post.
Eleanor Thorne says
I agree that values shape the decisions we make – along with the experiences we each bring to the moment.
From 10,000 feet – I ask if we are raising children to be deep thinkers. My grandparents could spend weeks gathering information we now have in seconds. The process of thinking about and considering the next step is changed.
Jeff Turner says
I think you’re right. I know we’re making an effort in our family to spend more time in long conversations with our kids. It’s important.
And that’s part of my point here. We move so fast. Sometimes I get caught up in the speed.
Chris Johnson says
BTW – that is now available on kindle.
Jeff Turner says
Thanks for recommending it, Chris!
Teri Conrad says
You’ve touched on something that I’ve been contemplating. I find myself holding back from commenting if I have little added value to offer and to prevent adding to the rhetoric. Debate for the sake of debate, although entertaining, is not getting us anywhere and we’re creating a lot of noise. There are a few leaders/visionaries in this space who I feel have a responsibility to share their vision and perspective and you are one. The different perspectives, reasoning and contemplation is necessary. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts Jeff.