Daily Archives: February 5, 2014

A Facebook Life


Posted 2 hours ago by (@joshconstine)

On Facebook, life begins at conception. “We’re expecting!”, your parents post. You don’t have fingers but you’re already accruing likes. A shared sonogram means hundreds have seen you before you’ve even opened your eyes. You have a Facebook presence despite lacking a physical one.

Think about that for a second. Like it or not, in 10 years Facebook has changed everything. Each phase of this life is playing out right now across a billion people.

You exist in limbo until you turn 13. Your parents can post whatever they want about you, but you’re not supposed to sign up. But perhaps your curiosity wins out, so you fake your age and create a profile. Quite possibly the first in a long series of adolescent rebellions and lies about your age.

From then on, every action you take and thought you think will be accompanied by a little background decision to be made: “Should I share this on Facebook?” Every sunset, surprise, and sexy face. Yes, you are thirteen years old and deciding which photo you look least ugly in so you can set it as your profile picture. When your parents walk in, you switch to another website or hit enter over and over until your chat history climbs out of view.

Each person you meet must be classified. To friend, or not to friend? Will their life provide enough entertainment? Will this weak tie generate opportunities down the road? Will connecting online make you more likely to connect offline again someday? The decision is not yours alone. It is theirs, but also society’s. The social contract demands courtesy. Accept their friendship, don’t break their heart. Then you’ll spend five seconds every year from then on either deciding not to wish them a happy birthday, or doing so as efficiently as possible.

You grow to become an actor in the success theater. Put on a good show and people will think you’re beautiful and accomplished. Refuse to take the stage and acquaintances will forget about you. Implode in the spotlight and they’ll all think you’re broken or desperate for sympathy. Your real friends will see through the statuses, though, and ask how you’re doing…really.

Eventually, something truly spectacular will happen to you. Rather than share it intimately with those geographically and socially closest to you, you will share some shadow or slideshow of your story with all your friends.

And they will congratulate you. They will like and fawn and comment and cheer and share your moment. And while you haven’t seen most of them in quite some time, their little tokens of appreciation will fill you with pride and joy and gratitude. These clicks can never recreate a hug, but that doesn’t make them worthless. Those resentful of your good fortune will scoff. And though you’ll never know exactly whose blood was boiled by your luck, a smug smirk will consume the corner of your mouth because you showed them, finally.

You’ll one day meet someone so attractive you can hardly wait to escape their presence so you can stalk their every publicly available tidbit of information. You never got their phone number, but with a combination of savvy search parameters you’ll pluck them from the billion-human haystack. You’ll message them something flirty you’d have been too scared to say on the phone and you’ll become “friends.” Before your first date, you’ll know all their favorite bands, the places they’ve travelled, and what their ex looks like. You’ll learn more about them alone than you could in a half-dozen dinners together. You’ll meet up having never heard their voice since that initial encounter. And you’ll fall in love with someone you would have lost but instead you found because you both live a Facebook life.

Your relationship will be condensed into a series of moments. A vacation together, a formal party, an anniversary dinner. No one will know about the fights over work/life balance or the creeping worry they’ll get bored of you, because those don’t make likeable posts. But you’ll send stickers to convey the complex emotions when you’re at a loss for words, and they’ll understand what you mean. You will accumulate a Timeline full of happy memories, and when you scroll through, you remember why you fell so hard in the first place.

You’ll create a secret Facebook event to set everything up. Friends with telephoto lenses stationed halfway across the park, a serendipitous string quartet. You know this moment isn’t just for you two. It’s a public expression that you’ll do anything to make them happy. You get down on one knee and the photos are being uploaded before they can even stop crying to say “yes.” You hold hands as you change your relationship status to “Engaged.”

You will see ads for wedding photographers, for caterers, for florists. You will seek nothing because the intent you’ve revealed and the money in your pocket are enough to make marketers salivate with the thrill of the chase. You will send a “Save The Date” via Facebook but not the invitations because this is special. You won’t change your relationship status to “married” at the altar because that’s tacky, but will do it as soon as you two are alone together. A modern consummation.

You will be anxious because people will share photos from the wedding with the friends you just weren’t close enough with to invite. They will be offended but comment “wow, looks like so much fun” and you will feel awful, but you’ll all get over it.

Soon it will be you posting that you’re expecting. The birth will see you struggle to reconcile experiencing the moment first-hand and documenting it for friends. No matter what anyone tells you, you’ll swear everything your child does is monumental and worth sharing. Your friends will privately loathe this but publicly humor you with “aww cute” and “they’re growing up so fast.”

Then one day your kid will join Facebook and you’ll have to choose if you’re their “friend” or not. You’ll be terrified they’re on there sharing sexed-up selfies and fodder for identity theft. You’ll demand to see their profile and realize they’re just talking about how much homework sucks. It will take you a while to realize that the scandalous stuff now goes down in other apps, not Facebook.

You’ll embarrass your kid by commenting on their posts. When some snot-nosed brat bullies your kid in their statuses, you’ll calmly message their parents telling them to teach their children better netiquette. But you’ll also seek revenge by reporting the little jerk to Facebook, hoping it’ll shut down their account and assassinate their digital existence.

And when you grow old, your family will ask their friends to keep you in their prayers. But when you pass, you won’t disappear. Your profile will become a memorial page, a shrine to the moments of your life that you converted from atoms to bits. And once again, you will have a Facebook presence without a physical one.

Love and Business


I have great faith in all things not yet spoken….
What no one yet has dared to risk and warrant
-Rilke

Daring to risk

Business is productively wielding risk to bring about reward. It is about orchestrating conditions that produce valuable outcomes for clients. Outcomes they will pay for at levels that eclipse the cost of the orchestration. This is profit, the fuel of business.

It is an uncontroversial claim to suggest that profit is the fuel of business. Those even marginally competent in such matters understand this. Without profits there are no resources for the business to create and bring its goods to market. Some would even, in an offhanded way, say that profit is the heart of business. This then is where we will begin.


Things are not as easily understood nor as expressible as people usually would like us to believe. Most happenings are beyond expression; they exist where a word has never intruded.
-Rilke

The inexpressibility of things (and their manifestation)

Things are not easily understood. No truer sentence has been penned. This is the problem with most content being produced on the topics of business and leadership: it presupposes that things are, and should be, easily understood and expressible. The business trade press wants to be smart and memorable, certainly, counter-intuitive even if that can be made to serve the bestseller mission, but never among the rising tide of would-be thought leaders’ “game changing” ideas does anything hint at the inexpressibility of things. It takes a poet to drive home the point: things happen from a deeper place.

Too often we presume direct agency over things. A mastery that we will neither learn to wield nor to forego. We take things to be easily understood and expressible in such a way as to benefit us. We make things clever and convenient when what is called for is abandon to the inexpressibility of things that demand we be implicated in their manifestation. That we use our lives in the messiness of creation.

Though most happenings are not easily expressed, this is not to say that we cannot attend to their conditions. The gestation of something can be described, catalyzed, measured, and reflected upon, even if it cannot be controlled. The sequencing of creation’s unfolding is only partially under our purview and tangentially within our control. We work with conditions, with capacities, and together with them manifest realities. This is the inexpressibility of things: that passage from womb to world—from potentials to actualities.


For one human being to love another is
perhaps the most difficult task of all,
the epitome, the ultimate test.
It is that striving for which all other striving
is merely preparation.
-Rilke

The most difficult task of all: the ultimate test

I am going to suggest something simple and off-putting: Everything you have built is not yet a success if the striving that has achieved it is anything short of one human being acting out of love for another. This is not hyperbole. Your business operations, your client relationships, the products and services you sell to them, all of it is not yet achieved if these things are not the product of love. This is, of course, the case not only (or even primarily) for your business. This is true for everything in your life. Our propensity for exception making signals just how difficult this “most difficult task of all” really is. This is the ultimate test.

For whatever duration and at whatever level of intimacy, love is always an all-in proposition. It is being awakened to and present for the singularly intersubjective way that what it is you are bringing about is taking place. Love is the work of devotion materially inscribed in our collective acts and words, our practices and attitudes. It is a pattern: a feedback loop.

In business, as in life, there is always a “we”. We is how new businesses are imagined, it is how consensus is built, partners influenced, and first deals closed. We always functions as the fusion of intentional horizons, and this, I will suggest, is the mutual embodiment of love that is the heart of business. Love is at the center of the work we do together. It is why we are here in the first place. Love is the motivation for the best things we have brought about. It is the very mechanism of our capacity to come together with a common goal.

Love, as the fusion of horizons, is about the trajectory that is formed in our common pursuits. Whether that pursuit is imagining our company’s next product, establishing the engineering pipeline to build it, or the client relationships that ensure its delivery to new markets: there is a future that is being manifested through the pursuits we aim toward together. These common pursuits, when optimally undertaken (that is, when we have moved beyond the strivings of mere preparation, to again cite Rilke), involve a fusion of horizons evidenced by the ways that we habitually take up the perspectives and goals of others. Our customers, our partners, our employees all have part with us in some creative We that has at its adaptive core a capacity to see together: Not perfectly, but productively. As one of my beautiful, old teachers would say, “Trajectively!” The trajectory we are on together is born out of our mutual enfolding of the other’s point of view such that the materials now habitually at work in our future’s manifestation are as much the outlook and goals of the other as our own past and future. Our intentional horizons now fused, we navigate together through time toward those things we prize.


I can only wish that you trustingly and patiently allow that grand solitude to work in you. It is no longer possible to be erased from your life. It shall be immanent in all that you experience and all that you do. It will act as an anonymous influence… It is gently decisive at each crossroad of our life.
-Rilke

It is the fundamental thing that is too often left unattended to. The grand solitude that guides so well, the indelible attunements that build up like sedimentary layers over the course of a life, and, yes, the way in which love roots our work in the world and for its benefit.

When you presume the world to be easily understood, in business and in life, you stagger about, haltingly doing one thing and then another, never realizing that it is in and through the fundamental things that you become the person and leader you have set out to be. That it is through these recurring and unavoidable happenings that you find the truth of your life. That you come into the inner workshop, and begin to flourish as these fundamental things are attended to and allowed to form in you. As you welcome the pain and opportunity of re-attunements and new alignments that are the hidden sources of those things so long sought directly. These fundamental things, not easily understood nor as expressible as people would like us to believe, are the means and the end. The greatest of these?

Love.


­-
Rilke
’s poetry, novel, and correspondence are widely available. His letters are a good place to begin. For a broader collection of his work consider this compendium.

Moving forward a hundred years or so, one of my favorite songs from the Cloud Cult album, Love, may also be apropos.
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Grandma said it don’t matter where we go to or come from. She said, “Worry about what you’re made to do not what you’re made of.”
They say we’re made of chaos. I say we’re made of love.
And that means our show starts now.

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