The island of misfit toys Thursday May 11, 2006, 2 comments

As some might know, every night that I can, I go for a ten kilometer stroll. I wait till nightfall, as I find the darkness less distracting than the daylight. It’s not only a walk for physical fitness, its a time for my mind to reel freely, to spin and draw out thoughts that don’t get a chance in my normal day-to-day activities.

Last night I realized I feel it important to continue exploring one of the ideas that arose out of yesterday’s post, the idea of shaping the Internet into a more immersive experience. I may be relying on stereotype to hold my case together here, but I’ve been in the field for a long time, and sometimes, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.

There seems to be an overwhelming drive among techie types to create an Internet experience so “real” that it renders reality obsolete. Instead of going to work every day, these same techie types want to create an immersive environment that simulates a work environment perfectly, but doesn’t require them to step out of their mom’s basement (see? using stereotypes as duct tape).

They can create entire second worlds, like Second Life, where they can be anything they want. What is telling is how rarely these “second lives” are anything like the first lives.

Instead of being (perhaps) overweight 30-somethings with no social lives, no social skills, and a deep-seated self esteem issue, they often assume the role of women that have rejected them in their real lives. An understandable role reversal. Now they are the ones doing the rejection. I am sure it gives one a sense of power.

What it doesn’t do is address the self esteem issues. In fact, it probably feeds the issues. Makes it more likely these men will continue to be rejected by real-life women.

This goes beyond hygiene, it goes beyond personality. I know a great many of these types of men. My best friend in high school was one when he was little, and one when he reached adulthood. Brilliant, but utterly unaware of why he wasn’t being accepted for the amazing person he was. It must have been overwhelming, because he eventually took his own life.

What I am getting at here is fairly deep, and I fear I am doing a poor job of articulating it. Instead of rebuilding the universe in such a way that they understand all the rules, these people might be better served by learning why they are being rejected. They are, after all, worthy people – beautiful people with beautiful minds and beautiful souls. What they are not is confident.

Over the course of my musical career, it has been demonstrated to me time and again that looks have almost nothing to do with appeal. I have seem musicians – skinny, nerdy, funny looking musicians around whom lovely girls swarm. It is not how they look. They look just like some of those same techie types. It is the attitude. The self-worth. The belief in ones self.

It seems like such an engineer way to deal with things. See a problem, find the solution which offers the most technological challenge, and go boldly. Change the universe, don’t change the person or their outlook.

The Internet should (and could) never approximate reality. Television sure as hell doesn’t. Newspapers don’t. Books don’t. We can get lost in the worlds presented by these mediums, but they aren’t reality, and nobody confuses them with reality. At least, they shouldn’t. Television has its own problems in this arena, but that lays outside the scope of this post.

In short, the misfit toys have to stop believing they are flawed. They have to value themselves before they can expect anyone else to. For many people, this is a built in capacity, but for some it might be something that has to be learned.

Engineer, fix thyself.


Thomas M. Friday May 12, 2006

Just tell ‘em to slowly put down the keyboard and mouse, back away from them slowly, and go do something like…

1. Be a big brother/sister to a child (it really helps when you don’t always focus on “me, me, me”)

2. Find some people with names and faces that don’t end with .jpg, .gif, or .png

3. Exercise (actually, this really should be maditory.)

4. Take a spontaneous vacation

5. Go to a coffee house – without the laptop.

6. Learn to do something you don’t currently know but have always wanted too (i.e. play a musical instrument, draw, paint, learn a language, etc.).

7. Do something you haven’t done since you were in elemetary school, junior high, or high school that you remember as being “fun”.

8. Find an old friend from elemetary shool, junior high, high school, or college whom you haven’t seen, or talked to in years, and go (don’t call or email) visit them.

9. thru 1001: I’ll leave up to you…

How can the draw of an online-life be appealing when there’s so much more to live for than pixels?

Adrian Friday May 12, 2006

I do not know, Thomas. I find it disturbing.

Commenting has ended for this post, but I'd still love to hear from you.

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A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar, a twenty(!) year veteran of web design and development. He is currently managing web and mobile development teams at Canada’s largest and most beloved classifieds site, Kijiji!

He is a father, sailor, snowboarder, skier, cyclist, writer, artist, graphic designer, classically trained musician and afraid of heights.

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There is little elegance in complexity.”
- Adrian Lebar


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