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.