It’s been a tough week.
First off, we’d like to express our thoughts and concerns for our employees, their families and clients who are dealing with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath. We wish all of you continued safety and as speedy a recovery as is possible. Looking at the damage in New York, I can’t help but think that this recovery/rebuilding effort is going to be second only to that of 9/11, maybe even worse.
It’s because of Sandy that we’re going to hold off on our standard Friday post today. I personally know folks in New York who are still without power, and their cars are literally submerged under 12 feet of water. Their lives, in a word, totally disrupted by something far bigger than our everyday, now quite obviously trivial concerns.
And I suppose that’s worth a little rumination: every day we spend time on the web, and we fall into the trap of thinking that the world, in such a context, is a heavily id-based experience. Because the web does that to people: in so many cases, they check the better parts of their personality at the door. Behind a keyboard, when you’re only represented by an avatar and some text, so many of us become impulsive, say things we wouldn’t otherwise say and seek to reduce others while inflating ourselves. Again, it’s an id-eat-id world. If you want the super-concentrated example of this, just go check out the comments for a few YouTube videos. They will depress you.
What isn’t depressing is when folks shed the political polemics and warring ideologies and become people again. When a disaster hits, it’s a galvanizer: the things you used to do on the web take an immediate and very distant backseat to real life, which suddenly, is demanding everything of us as people. And time and time again, you see the positives: people going way out of their way to help others, rescue pets, and provide food and shelter for complete strangers. These folks, mind you, could be the ones you argue with on Facebook about politics, or about why the iPad mini is overpriced.
Suddenly, only one thing matters, and it’s not the stuff about the election or electronics. People. Safety. Life.
There’s a lot of black and white views out there, but we tend to forget that’s not the way the real world works. In the adult world, truth is nuanced, and situations are complex. The web doesn’t reflect that, and we’re worse for it.
But when we get to bare metal, the human spirit rises to the top, and that’s what matters. I’ve seen it time and again, and I admire it. Hopefully, we all do.
Again, godspeed to the folks digging out of Sandy’s wrath. We’re thinking of you.