My Life in Beta: Let Me Collide Into You


 

My Life in Beta: Let Me Collide Into You

I often feel guilty. Sometimes the guilt is justified and other times I create it out of no where. I sometimes feel guilt when I interact with certain people because I know somewhere deep inside of me I want something from them. I want their inspiration. As if I were mining the earth for a precious metal, I cultivate and hold on to acquaintances just for the possibility of ideas. I am searching for what Steven Johnson calls, a complementary “hunch.” As if all the ideas I have are actually parts to a much larger, grander idea I have yet cultivated. By mining for the individual, smaller hunches, I can begin to put together a really fantastic idea quicker than if I came up with all of it on my own and I can do this more efficiently because most of the ground work is done already. Like scientific research, each researcher builds on those before them. As Newton said, “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In some ways, this blog has been an archive of all my “hunches” but somehow saying that out loud and explicitly has a guilt absolving characteristic to it. I really don’t know where this guilt comes from and for all I know I am probably making too much of it. Maybe if I were to be a little more transparent about the entire ordeal it could ease me. So in a form of absolution, I am organizing my current, half-baked, beta ideas. This way, you have all my material you could potentially really want to cultivate right here for you. The reality is, this is an interesting way to meet my idea’s other half; in a way believing in the notion that “the sum is greater than the parts combined.” Do you have the complementary perspective, idea and/or observation to my half-baked one? Please let me know. Can you please connect these dots for me? They have bothering me lately and the passion can get pretty obsessive from time to time. So let’s see if we can crowd-source these hunches. Here’s my life in beta and let me collide into you.

Things that currently keep me up at night

The American Dream

  • The changing of the “American Dream.” What was it in the first place? I understand it has a lot to do with identity, individualism, ownership, exceptionalism, and opportunity. How has this recession and more broadly globalization, changed America’s views on this concept? Are we, at the very least the younger generation, less attached to material goods and the statuses that come with it? Has globalization softened our idea of nationalism and in a sense patriotism? With the shrinking middle class, where is this “opportunity” we speak of in the American Dream? With the rise of the sharing economy, how does ownership and thus individuality change? Overall, what about identity during these times, especially when we are beginning to really see the start of identity tourism with the rise of all our “online-selves” and all the social media identities we carry, mean?
  • How will this generation be different from the rest?

Identity

  • The pros and cons of identity and anonymity. Questions on how we currently treat the two on and offline, and what it means for ideas like nationalism, ethnicity, and identity as a larger idea. What about identity tourism in relation to this concept? Anonymity opens itself to larger actions and ideals than identity due to the fact that you can create a new personality without the risk of harming your current, “real” one. You essentially can build this new identity to whatever you want it to be. However, does identity validate these actions more so than without having a real name attached to it?

The Blurred Lines

  • The blurring lines of the following: Technology vs. Biology, Masculinity vs. Femininity, and Ownership vs. Sharing. As Jeremy Rifkin stated, is ownership too slow of an institution for our fast and soon-to-be faster culture? What will the repercussion of the potential singularity be? What happens to sexuality when we blur the lines of masculinity and femininity? What mental models are we recreating and destroying?

Transparency

  • What is better? Open vs. Closed? Centralized vs. Decentralized? What ideas are revolving around transparency and vulnerability? How has recent institutions like Anonymous and Wikileaks promoted or hampered our feelings towards the two?

Perspective

  • If perspective leads to empathy and empathy, coupled with sympathy, lead to compassion then how, if that is correct or even makes sense, can we create more perspective for the sake of ourselves, creativity, and others? How does compassion differ from passion? Why do we forget that passion has a air of suffering attached to it?

Labels

  • What happens to the integrity of something once you put a label on it? Do you constrict it or open it up for further concepts and ideas? Should we be more attentive to how we label things? Each word we use to describe something carries its own connotations and mental models. Are we painting an accurate picture?

Let Me Collide Into You

So let me hear your ideas, thoughts, and feelings on my ideas. Am I missing something obvious? Connect these dots for me and see what new ideas we can grow. Your comments will be most appreciated.

-Dan

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About Dan Fonseca

Dan is currently the Content Creation Specialist at FirstGiving and thinks that’s pretty darn cool. He believes in the experiential learning process, understands the importance of making mistakes, transparency, and that beauty can come from vulnerability.

12 responses to “My Life in Beta: Let Me Collide Into You”

  1. Nora says :

    Hey, Danno.
    Once again, awesome post. I think this time I’ll indulge myself in sharing some thoughts, point by point, if only to give you the opportunity to think they are ridiculous. The American Dream. It has been the duty of the generation below to rebel against and improve upon the generation above. Maybe a shift away from materialism and nationalism towards a more global and socially compassionate understanding of how a society could (or should) function is our duty. We, the young people, have an obligation to the next generation to make mistakes while trying to fix the problems our parents made. This is exciting to me, because even if we aren’t moving forward all the time, at least we keep moving.
    Identity, especially in terms of the Internet and an “online self” is particularly interesting and frightening. I know from experience that it seems easier to post under a fake name. (Remember how I first commented on one of your posts under a fake name?) By doing this, I completely removed myself from the potential of shame or embarrassment. However, I also completely removed myself from accountability or even recognition and praise. Although I thought it was a great idea at the time, I couldn’t have felt more stupid after I had done it. How spineless! In my attempt to avoid shame and embarrassment, I had brought it on myself. This is an incredibly important lesson. My cowardice turned around to bite me in the end. Dory from Finding Nemo has a fantastic quote about this kind of dilemma. She is displeased with Marlin’s parenting technique of keeping Nemo away from the outside world. Her response: “You can’t let nothing ever happen to him. Then nothing will ever happen to him!” So what? Maybe someone out there in the blogosphere will think I’m an idiot. I’ll take that risk, thank you, because someone out there may hear just exactly what they needed. Who am I to deny them that moment?
    Finally, I really liked your questions concerning the difference between passion and compassion. My best guess as to the central difference, the core of what divides them is this: passion is solitary, compassion is communal. A person cannot be compassionate in the absence of others. A recluse can be passionate about his or her art, music, wildlife, ideas, etc., but he or she cannot have, or rather feel, compassion until they confront and feel for another human being. Personally, I believe that compassion is the most honorable trait an individual can have. So, according to my belief (which for argument’s sake we will assume is at least partially accurate) an individual cannot reach their full potential in solitude or even in a state of self-centeredness; we need other people to achieve greatness, to achieve great love. Isn’t this exactly what you are doing? Reaching out to the entirety of the internet community, reaching out and opening up and searching for others to help you, to help you find answers? In order to achieve this highest human calling, people will gravitate towards other people, or they will recede into selfishness. It is my argument that people need people. Whether we crash into them or reach out to them on the internet or ask them to dance, we need to be with each other. And I think this is beautiful.
    Thanks again, Dan, for making us think!

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Nora!

      Hands down one of the best comments I have EVER read. Thank you for giving me this moment :)

      You hit a lot of great topics that really interested me and I will see if I can respond to them appropriately. First off, what you say about identity is right on the money and you know so from experience. I guess that is the what one would say the pro of identity and the con of anonymity would be. Now let me ask you this, how has the use of an alter name gone for Bono? Lady Gaga? Prince? Madona? Like the first Chris Nolan Batman film stated, “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal and if they can’t stop you, you become something else entirely – a legend, Mister Wayne.” How can something like our true identities hold us back in that light? Liberated from notions of identity.

      What you said about passion and compassion was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I never saw it as an individual or comunal thing, I had simply never seen it as such. This opens up a lot of characteristics for me and hopefully this is a missing “hunch.”

      Thanks so much Nora!!

      • Nora says :

        Dan,
        I never thought of identity that way! Leave it to Batman to rattle our cages. This is really interesting. Deny yourself as solely your name, become your identity and not your label. I like it! However, I cannot pretend to put myself on the same level as Lady GaGa, Madonna, or Batman in terms of becoming the identity instead of the name. They have a certain level of dedication to their identities that I have not grasped (YET!). You are who you are, not what you are labeled to be. (As a side note, it is interesting how your response and this subsequent response have a lot to do with several of the points that you made in your original post: identity, passion, AND labels.) However, does this limit people? Or, could a desire to uncover your true identity end up being destructive? Could a misguided search for your “purpose” end up destroying who you are, rather than reveal it? There seems to be a great deal of risk involved. Then again, I’m inclined to believe it’s worth it.

        • Dan Fonseca says :

          I guess risk and reward are two things you have to weigh. I hate/love peaking in quotes but “if you’re not growing, you’re dying” not to mention risk and the suffering attached to passion is an interesting connection… A lot of what Batman/Bruce Wayne deal with is the legitimacy of each other. Very cool and I LOVED how you brought labels into it. Gracias Nora!

  2. Franziska San Pedro says :

    Hi Dan,
    it’s impossible to leave a short comment on your very inspiring and thoughtful post (you have been warned, lol)!

    I see what’s going through your mind because my longing for answers pushes me forward all the time, too. It’s great to ask questions! Between the lines, I can read that you already have the answers but they may confuse you and you doubt whether you are right or not. I found that there are several truths in life, there are many perspectives and the truth is always individual but there is only one truth that is right for you. And then we need other people to interact with, to move forward, to learn, to get criticism, to get the outside perspective (which is always subjective, too) and then we have what Nora said -loved her response- I am pretty much saying the same!

    Going through all your bullet points, I see a reoccurring pattern: everything is yin and yang, they both need one another and each one of them can’t exist without the other. I don’t believe that they will all blur and the opposing characters will disappear but I believe that there also has to be the balance between old and new. The old systems have to go by a newer updated system. Old systems won’t fade the way they have faded in the past. They will go by an internal change.
    Patriotism has to go for globalization because then we’ll be more aware of where we are coming from and focus on our roots. If we understand how we are all the same, we’ll be able to see the differences. If we don’t understand the opposite sex, we won’t be able to appreciate our own gender.

    I think we are living in exciting times. We may now discuss all these topics without being chased, without having to fear that we will be hung for our ideas or that our books will be burned…
    Bottom line: we must first focus on ourselves to understand the world and how we fit in (and how we can distance ourselves from it by the same time) and then share with others because only together we can move forward. So I don’t think your ideas are half-baked! And don’t feel guilty :-) I am stealing ideas all the time when I am painting; it just sounds nicer when I say “I got inspired by..”

    One more last thing: words don’t speak the truth. Here’s just one example: patriotism. Is it a good or a bad word? Ask most Americans and they will tell you patriotism is a good thing. They love their country, their flag, their anthem, their ideas and what the idea stands for.
    Ask a German (ask me), they will tell you that it is a negative word and they feel ashamed to show or admit pride for what their country stands for. Today, they are proud of their achievements and their strong economy but the word patriotism has a very bitter aftertaste. In the name of patriotism, a world war was started, people were put into concentration camps and one people was almost entirely erased.

    So when you label something, the words may not be the best way to describe something, it’s the energy, intention and action that come with it and gives its meaning. And the labels you are using are different from my labels. We need labels though because we need structures and they’re part of our will to survive.

    This is possibly the longest comment I have ever left :-)

    Franziska San Pedro
    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Franziska! What a fantastic response. This is exactly the sort of conversation I was looking for. You say a lot of great things, and in combination with Noras, I have a fuller picture now. I do enjoy the concept you present on having to learn or “be” the other to know more about yourself, its an interesting experiment and I love that idea. In a way, when art pushes boundaries, it helps us understand society’s cores more even if the art itself is on the edge of chaos. In a way, that is what “deviance” does for society.

      The example of patriotism is an interesting one. Intellectual buffs always talk about the two forces that are shaping our world, globalization and tribalism, and that in a sense, our world is simultaneously getting smaller and larger. With globalization, national borders, physical and mental, are loosing ground. So maybe in a sense nationalism and patriotism as well. However, with the explosion of information and the market of mass niches, everyone can live in their own tiny worlds which technology has offered us; our blog interactions and conversation characteristics/topics are just one example. The world of an abstract painters in Texas is completely different from one of a marathon runner’s in Japan; they are completely different but so similar simultaneously…

      Thank you so much for all you have inspired me by Franziska. Cheers! :)

  3. Stan Faryna says :

    Important ideas can take a long time to incubate, implement, and have impact. I’d also like to point out that the best ideas contribute to the conversation for a long time. For example, Aristotle’s thinking about virtue remains relevant to our questions about happiness today. 2300+ years later.

    As you say, hunches can be slow and awkward. Hence, hunches need to come together, mingle, and grow.

    Like the American founding fathers observed, politics makes strange bed fellows. But their idea of politics was more about doing what’s right than doing what is expedient. If they put up with argumentative and stubborn bed fellows, they did so in service to something higher than their personal and immediate interest. They served a common hope for a more perfect government – a government that would serve the people in an enduring answer to the necessity of government.

    Without a commitment to community, ideas will be shared less, minds will not meet often, nor hearts share the same strong feelings.

    I engage others in a discussion about online community here: http://osakabentures.com/2011/09/casual-collectives-tomorrow%E2%80%99s-roadkill/

    Please join us. Everyone. We all have something to contribute and share.

    Recently on my blog: Do you ignore the road signs too? And other social media DOHs. http://wp.me/pbg0R-rq

    • Dan Fonseca says :

      Very cool Stan. I most certainly agree with you that great ideas endure. The truth is, a lot of great ideas do take a long time to grow and incubate. What I have been interested in lately is finding a way to prime your environment and ideas so that your idea’s half can meet its other half sooner than later. Not forcing its growth but increasing its probability that it comes to fruition. I really like what you have to say about the American Founding Fathers though. Thanks Stan!

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