…and it’s your first day to learn the new system.

The new system is far superior to the others. You’ve built a few yourself, and watched the new system’s demo, so you know.

You know that you will be so much happier with the new system.

The new system solves all of the problems the other systems created.

The new system has an easy learning curve–you can be up and running with it after a week.

The new system will enable you to be more productive with the things you really want to do in your career.

Yes, we are aware of the bugs, and the areas that require the expertise of a full-time system guru, but just look at all of the great features inside the new system!

You should be quite happy that you get to use the new system, think about how it will look on your resume. Think about what it will do for your career. If you are lucky, you too will one day be a system guru.

Then, you can be indispensable. We will tell you how much we need you, and bake for you, and flirt with you, to keep you on as our little system bitch.

You will meet others like yourself, almost always males under the rule of capricious females. Males who were too dumb to be developers of new systems, but too shy and logical to be creative and strategic like their bosses.

The new system will give you the opportunity to find reliable income streams in depressed economies. It is difficult to outsource your job, because the system can be finicky, and your bosses can be inconsistent. Overseas teams that administer the system almost always find groups like yours hard to please.

We will pay you to go to a conference put on by the makers of the new system. There, you will learn about all the best practices and optimal methodologies that we will never implement. Because, on top of the new system are all the users like us, your superiors; and, we are hopelessly entrenched in unchanging ways of our own. We like to change things like the system because we like to think we can change our own selves, but deep down, we hate change. We want to do things the way we learned them ten years ago, and do them that way until we retire–only changing the systems that we use, because we don’t really have to use them–you do.

 

…and you see that each thing needs its proper place.

You can’t go through life letting your outside world reflect your inner one. You must have a series of hierarchies and taxonomies to properly reflect the information you choose to process. This way, you can stop waking up with a head full of problems from work, loins of random lust, and a heart of abiding emptiness.

This is the soft life. In this life, you have almost free access to every single great work of art, piece of literature, and all the best music. Anything you want to know that is known by the elite scientists is free for your perusal. The potential for you to be more broadly and deeply educated than the most prolific of Renaissance men is there, you just have to take the time to realize it.

The urge to empty the head, heart and sex is always there, too. To be like a Zen master, serenely composed in your empty-headedness, not empty-headed like a high school dropout or a vapid reality television star. This clashes with your will to consume as well as your will to produce (which at times work together with each other, and at other times, not so much).

You can hear the same songs over and over again, and if they aren’t the ones everyone knows, you couldn’t say whether you are listening to Mozart, Bach or Liszt. But, you are a modern child, raised by parents more inclined to know their Beetles from their Stones, even if they never spent a day rocking out in front of you. You are a product of this information age, and so you categorize by the keys the songs were written in. You come up with your own attributes for playlists–songs you can read to, songs you can write to, songs to wake you up, songs to put you to sleep.

At this time, you don’t need to divide them up by Cello, Trios, Quartets, Requiems, Concertos.

You are going through this phase where your ears seem to have been altered enough that very little music other than Classical or Jazz can play for very long without sounding like a daycare center. You work next to your company’s daycare center, and can hear the utter similarities between the music leaking from your coworkers’ headphones and the sounds behind the walls.

For two years, you’ve been fighting the urge to abandon your feigned interest in contemporary art. After the Abstract Expressionists, you are completely lost. The overall trend is one of anti-art, anti-beauty, as if the only way to do something new is to take the past and completely negate it. The works of the Renaissance are good the way going to an expensive feast and stuffing yourself silly is good. What came after, and lasted up until about the time of Matisse, is what you love. Reading art critical history on art of the 19th century is like entering a new country with completely different laws and customs–it is utterly alien and foreign to all the modern art history you imbibed in and after school.

It’s like you’ve waited around for someone to come along to give you permission to love beautiful art and music without coming off like a quaint twit. Of course, nobody except dead writers are going to provide this service to you. The people you know love either ultra-modern art, Thomas Kincaide, or appreciate some older work ironically.

How did your culture, which made significant breaks with its past about a hundred years ago (then again more completely about fifty years ago), rebuild itself into one where it fetishizes styles and trends from a generation or two previous, and does this ironically and archly so as to never take a serious position that can be seriously attacked? Surely, you’d think that after rock n’ roll severed its ties with all music that had more than three chords and one tempo–that after this break with the past rock would rebuild music along finer and finer lines.

Even some of the so-called classical composers of the present day seem stuck on one tempo and three chords. Rock tried valiantly to build upon its primitive self in the 70s, but this didn’t last, and the prog-rock groups of this era with few exceptions seemed to need a few years’ worth of getting grounded in solid musical theory and history before embarking on trying to reinvent the wheel. Aside from a few groups like Pink Floyd and Rush, most of those bands are laughably dismissed as having been masturbatorily extravagant–more prone to noodling in extended, aimless jam sessions than having created something that was a worthy contender of hundreds of years of beautiful, complex music.

Some of your friends, who like you have spent years accepting that the only good music has been made after 1964, and the only visual art worth talking about is film–they’ve started to wake up, too, and wonder if your generation hasn’t been cheated out of an entire sumptuous banquet. After all, if you are raised on McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, how do you react the first ten times you’re taken to even a modestly decent Italian restaurant?

Perhaps like anyone else from your generation whose parents or grandparents were American peasants, you carry with you a sense of both Puritan guilt for enjoying anything in life to excess, as well as that rustic American sensibility that anything fine is European and unpatriotic. Of course, almost no one consciously carries these sentiments about with them, or they wouldn’t gorge on buffets, sports, movies, video games, gadgets, clothes, etc.

You think that you are mostly the product of generations who simply didn’t have the access you do to all the wonderful art and knowledge of humanity–a reading room in town was something special, and now it’s just a place for panhandlers to get out of the cold. It’s like having inherited a vast estate, and knowing it’s there, but you’ve grown up visiting it with only a view to a dense stand of trees being in between you and all the wealth that is yours for the taking.

…and you want it both ways…

All it takes is half an hour alone with no one watching, and you’re ready to slip back into a paradise of pretending you are still a teenager. You abandon all plans for bigger things, and focus on fantasies where you get to travel back twenty years in time with your wise, adult mind and override your wayward, fearful consciousness. Why, think of how incredibly irresponsible you’d be, while working hard in school, and cashing in on the dot com craze! You’d have it both ways–all ways…because you’d know all that there is to know about the limitations of your parents and your teachers–and all the kids who already had everything figured out. Look at them now–they’re all divorced at least twice over, with lots of mouths in many states to feed.

You could rig up betting pools, and play the markets like a real thief.

You could get religion, and stay squeaky clean–meet a crisp, churchy virgin and then break her heart. You could travel the world as a bum, and con everyone you meet into giving you money for your schemes. You could write poetry and do art, and say screw ever trying to be someone respectable.

You might wake up in ten years and find yourself a hipster in Brooklyn, sleeping with every girl who arrives in town, and learning about all the nonsense that is modern art.

You had this vision once when you were twenty-two of people getting stuck in streams that they couldn’t get themselves out of, and you swore that this could never happen to you.

But it did.

Because, you walk into every situation thinking that this opportunity is going to be loaded with potential for riches unheard of. Every new book on the shelf is cram-packed with magic to turn you into a successful businessman. Every face carries behind it a thousand new ideas and adventures. Only, you don’t really think like that much, anymore.

A trip somewhere is going to cost you more than it benefits you, and you’ll be left with the same photographs and memories everyone else is left with. A book will not do anything except entertain you or bore you. You’ll forget almost everything you read. The next gadget you purchase will be nothing more than an expensive brick that lacks all the features  of the gadgets your friends are playing with. People become the same–nobody dares to be different for fear of being seen as awkward, crazy, scary, irrelEt or immature.

You want to slip back into a paradise where the world was still packed with potential around every single corner, in every single object, but you want to have your grown man’s consciousness to take advantage of every opportunity you missed when all those potent things were also packed with what seemed to be endless amounts of fear.

…ready to be a company man.

We want to welcome you to the team. We think you will be a valuable member. We know that your contributions will be important. Take time to read the manual that covers everything you need to know before your first meeting at 10 AM with the team.

At your first meeting with the team, we’ll go around the room and ask everyone for an update on what progress they are making with their projects. When we get to you, and you nervously laugh that it is your first day, and you are sure you’ll have lots of questions, we will look at you quizically because we already told you that everything you need to know is in the manual.

We will use lots of acronyms you are unfamiliar with in these meetings. You will ask a fellow peon later what they mean and he’ll look at you and shrug, and return to his work. You will ask your immediate supervisor in your first one-on-one meeting later in the week what the acronyms stand for, and she’ll ask you, “have you read the manual?”

Well of course I’ve read the manual, you’ll think to yourself. It has a revision date of two years ago on it, and none of the acronyms mentioned in this week’s meeting are in it.

You will be asked to log in to a website that requires a certificate that you have to set up with our IT guy who is out of the office until Thursday, but we will discuss in conversations at cubes near your desk important information that can only be found on this website, and then turn to you and ask you for your opinion, and then when you explain that you don’t have a login set up, we’ll ask you when the IT guy is returning in a way that implies you are somehow responsible for his absence.

Of course, we want to invite you to lunch on your first day. So, at lunch, we will quickly launch into a litany of workplace politics and shoptalk (and more acronyms), and then chide you for being so silent.

After you have worked with the angry IT guy on Thursday, who snarls at you every time you forget to add an uppercase letter, number, special character, space to your password, or not make your password between 11-12 characters–after this, you will log into a website that works only on one version of one browser, intermittently.

Everything not contained in the manual is on this website, can’t you find it? The wiki tells you everything you need to know to do your job. What do you mean the revision history says the wiki hasn’t been updated in two years? Look at Harold over there–he started six months ago, and he learned everything he needed to know on the first day of his job.

Maybe we should send you to some training, since you aren’t catching on very fast. At this new employee training, which we were supposed to schedule for you six months ago, but we didn’t (because all of our other team members didn’t seem to need it), you will encounter a bunch of people ten years younger than you who are hungry and eager to play cutthroat games of corporate warfare in their zeal to become VPs within a year. They already know all of the jargon and acronyms that are important to our business, why don’t you? They are simply at this training because they are good, corporate minions. Why are you here?

Don’t you love our company’s mission and our vision and our values statement? You are so lucky to come here to work. We will remind you periodically of all the people we interviewed who we were considering hiring instead of you. Why did we hire you? Because you got a good reference from one of our friend’s friends.

You are looking over the shoulder of Harold one day, and he has an amazing document in front of him. It provides all of the acronyms, plus specific instructions on how to do your job. “Where is this document located on our network, Harold?”

“It’s the manual,” he replies, disgusted with you and your absolute ignorance.

“But my manual doesn’t have this information in it.”

“Sure it does.”

The manual is 1246 pages long, 1.5 line-line spacing, 10pt Arial. You are reluctant to take his copy and do a comparison between his version and yours. Nonetheless: “Can you email me your manual?” you ask him.

“I’ll try. It’s 10MB. Our email system has a 10MB limit.”

“Can you zip the file?”

“I don’t know how to do that. It’s not in the manual.”

Two days later, you ask him again, and he says that the email with the attached manual is still in his outbox. “Can you print it out for me?” you ask. Harold’s face fills with horror at the idea of wasting so much paper.

You tell your immediate supervisor about your discovery of the discrepancy between versions.

“Really? I thought I set you up with the most recent version of the manual on your first day. Anyway, not a whole lot has changed. Just pages 238-342, the section on UGV Administration for OMW Users.”

“But, that’s my job–UGV Administrator, OMW. Can you not see why I’ve struggled so much these past six months? The entire section of the manual on how to do MY job isn’t in the manual.”

“Calm down. You don’t need to get violent. I may have to issue a warning to you. Three strikes and you’re out, you know.”

“But, I’m not violent. I’m just exasperated.”

“If you don’t like working here, you can always go work somewhere else. I can’t understand why anyone would ever want to work anywhere else, but this is a free country. Nobody is forcing you to come here to work. In fact, you should be grateful you even have a job, really, in this economy. Why, if I could go back and do it again, I probably would have hired that nice Asian man with the MBA. He seemed to know his stuff.”

You seek out an ally. In the break room, strange fellows wearing flannel shirts whisper in hushed voices over brown bag lunches and eye you suspiciously when you grab your microwave dinner out of the freezer to heat it up. Sales guys in crisp, corporate button-down shirts poke their heads into the breakroom and scowl at you. The assistant HR manager who seemed kind to you on your first day occasionally comes in here and makes a comment about there being no more pretzel snacks. She appears to have no idea who you are.

Surely there is someone at this company that hates it as much as you do, that finds their processes and circled wagons and cronyism just as mystical and impenetrable as you do.

Your supervisor’s supervisor sees you standing by the microwave heating up your lunch. “What are you doing?” she demands. “Didn’t you get the lunch invite?”

“No, I didn’t,” you say. She’s got your email address entered incorrectly in her address book, and this is the third team event you’ve missed. Each time you let her know that she doesn’t have your correct email address, and each time she’ll forward you a copy of the invite to the correct email address, with the incorrect email address plainly visible on the forwarded copy.

“It’s Harold’s birthday. And, we are all chipping in. Just a little something. You can pay me later if you don’t have $50 on you. Here, sign the card. And, hurry. We’re all taking your supervisor’s car to our, I mean Harold’s, favorite Sushi place.”

You hate these team lunches. Everyone talks for a good two hours from the moment they are walking out of the building, until the moment they are walking back about all of the eateries-for-snobs they’ve tried in the area. These folks hate chain restaurants, and will only eat at places nobody else has heard of, unless that other person happens to be a VP.

They always split the check evenly among everyone, and others usually enjoy more expensive foods and wines than you do. You end up paying $50 for $15 worth of food and drink.

Of course, you are always late to a meeting following a team lunch. If it’s a meeting run by someone else other than your supervisor or her supervisor, you will receive a dozen scowls and five seconds of silence when you enter the room late. The withering look by the presenter is far better than the condemnation you’d get from your supervisor or her supervisor when they hear you were completely absent from a meeting where you were supposed to represent the team.

If the meeting you are late to is run by your supervisor or her supervisor, they will laugh uproariously at lunch several times about how hilarious it is that they are late to their own meeting, but, oh well, we can talk about it here. Of course, the two supervisors will get into a conversation between each other about which VP is moving up and which one is getting fired, and congratulate each other afterward about their productive meeting.

Then, if there was something you actually needed to ask them or present to them, they will look at you with withering looks if you try to enter their office after lunch while they are either checking their voicemail or gossiping with one of the VPs. Of course, they are always ready to let you know that their offices are open and they are always available during those periods where the company hands out employee satisfaction surveys.

At one time, you thought you might try your hand at moving up a corporate ladder, which is one of your big motivations for joining the company. You have some good ideas about improving processes, which friends of your supervisor and her supervisor have all implemented. These friends are now your quasi-supervisors, and your supervisor only has time to meet with you about once every two weeks. Your supervisor, her supervisor, and all of their friends they’ve hired to be your quasi-supervisors, go out to lunch together almost every single day and have dozens of impromptu meetings throughout the day to talk about the latest thing they’ve posted on Pinterest or the latest bargain they’ve gotten in a pair of shoes.

After a fashion, Harold has become a sort of ally, since he is not invited to these affairs of theirs, though he tries valiantly to force laughter at their jokes and insert himself into their conversations. Sometimes he catches them when they are on their way out the door to lunch, and they invite him in a very patronizing manner.

After a year, you’ve finally figured out what all the acronyms mean and what your job actually consists of. “Not much” is the answer to both of these questions that loomed so large throughout the year. The acronyms describe processes that aren’t ever actually implemented, but are thrown about as a kind of special code or secret language at meetings between VPs and those-who-would-be-VPs. Your job, which at first sounded very important and gave you lots of stress, now bores you and receives just enough of your attention to keep you from getting fired.

Your quasi-supervisors routinely make unreasonable requests of you, and throw little fits when you explain how difficult their requests would be to implement. Your own suggestions and ideas are routinely ignored at team meetings, or someone will say, “that would be nice” to pacify you. Occasionally, one of your ideas does get implemented by your quasi-supervisors, and then they take all or most of the credit for it.

Because there have been so many new VPs over the past year, everyone on your team, including you, has received a title change to make them sound more important. They’ve put the word “Director” in your supervisor’s name, and made your quasi-supervisors “Managers” though technically you still report to your supervisor. Your supervisor’s supervisor has been moved to another team, a “special projects” team where she will have more time to strategize and think about best practices.

Harold has been fired, and you’ve been offered a role in which you do both Harold’s job and yours, and get a 3% raise for your trouble. You also get to go out to lunch and eat sushi and pay for everyone’s wine and strange dishes they ordered. Several people within the company you’ve never met offer you obligatory congratulations when the announcement goes out.

The sad thing is, Harold’s job and yours combined do not still make enough work to keep you busy forty hours a week. Oh sure, there is all that documentation you’re supposed to be writing–an update to the manual to describe the “new role.” But, it’s really hard to write up BS like the BS that is already in there. Your new role includes not only copying and pasting, but pushing a few buttons, too.

In your role, you are the grunt who cuts and pastes copy for marketing people to market to other marketing people about your company’s marketing software. You now must push the buttons that make the marketing software actually send the emails. Your team buys giant lists of data that have been dubiously acquired (but the poor schmucks at some point in time accidentally checked a box at the bottom of a ten-page privacy statement saying that they didn’t mind if their data was sold on the open market to whomever), cranks out millions of emails to unsuspecting grunts at smaller companies. Occasionally, one of these grunts has their eyes on their supervisor’s desk, and will recommend your company’s software to their supervisor’s supervisors in hopes of making a good impression. Most of the email addresses you send to either bounceback, are unsubscribed, or simply see no activity whatsoever happen with them.

Then one day they announce that your company has been bought by a bigger company that does what your company does, only bigger and smarter. Leaner, faster-talking versions of your supervisor and her friends come in and promise your team that they will still have jobs when the merger is finished. Your supervisor seems to not care a bit, though her underling friends seem slightly worried about their jobs. You immediately start looking for new work, and you get in touch with Harold.

You learn that Harold has landed at an awesome company where everything is going awesomely, and the snacks in the breakroom are twice as fattening. Harold says that when they take you out to lunch here, they pay for it all themselves. Harold says it’s fun to work here, and that they go bowling and stuff at least once a month. You take a long lunch to drive up north and have a conversation with Harold’s supervisor.

She hires you on the spot. Two weeks later, you are ushered into a room full of people who do random, marketing-type stuff. They all have special acronyms for their processes, and they are having an animated conversation about the “VB9 Email Campaign that is supposed to go to the O_Y11 User Group in Baltimore.” They turn to you and ask how long it would take for you to cut and paste their content into new emails and push the “send” button. You try to steer the conversation around learning about their strategies and goals. Each of your ideas are quickly met and dealt with a “yes, we’ve tried that before, we don’t do that anymore.”

“Isn’t this place great?” asks Harold, with a grin that has no end.

Welcome to the team, you.

…and it’s time to get ready.

You can see it coming, can’t you?

You know that you need to get ready, but you don’t know what that means. Is covering yourself in a prepper’s blanket the way to go? Should you seek to live off the grid in a steel tank with lots of seeds and bottled water?

You know that there will come a day when you will have to put your faith on the line.

If you are an atheist/humanist, you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your faith.

If you are a Judeo-Christian, you’ll get your opportunity.

If you are an anarchist/individualist, you’ll see yours as well.

You will be putting your faith in someone or something, no matter what. Today, you have words that you say for whom or what you put your faith in, but when it comes your way, will you have the same kind of faith you have today?

 

…and see that you’ve become the proverbial snake.

You are the snake who is eating himself alive, curled around with tail in mouth. You are the candle being burned from the outside in and the inside out. You are a being lusting after a state of uber-being, and have somehow got it in your head that the path to success lies in devouring yourself. You have for too long sought the Other as an alternate version of yourself: someone more masculine, someone more feminine, someone older, someone younger–and then set the two polarized yous upon each other to seek out the ultimate, transcendental orgasmic experience. Inevitably, you will temporarily wipe them both from your consciousness, and in the process corrode your physical being a little more, setting your body to have aged several days within the time span of a few minutes.

You aren’t inherently a masochist, but your pursuits of uber-being have culminated in these inevitable results. Perhaps the only way to turn back the hands of the clock will be to pursue some state of being in which you are sub-human–though, this would likely wreck your health as well.

 

…ready to build a new system from scratch.

Why should you kid yourself any longer about what it means to live in a man-made world? All of these systems are artificial ones, created by and for men who wish to hold power over others. The quaint, bygone era of filling a need in a local market would certainly be a lovely thing to live in, but you know that such a place never existed, except in picturesque Hollywood/Hallmark scenes.

Who really believes in this day and age that the war is between Adam Smith and Karl Marx? The war is between those who possess power over others and those who don’t but wish they did. Everyone else is irrelEt, and simply gets caught in the crossfire.

There is the most lusted after system of them all (and the most artificial one), and that’s the system of the markets.  This belly of the Beast is where most people come to feast, and it’s the system that keeps most people, yourself included, fed.

All the systems that you live and move and breathe in professionally are tied to the markets. Anything you do for money is only relEt within the context of delivering more business to a company. You do not help make anyone’s life better, other than your own. You do not leave a thing of beauty for someone else to appreciate. You burn your eyes and brain out over creating new flames that are simply used to attract new moths, and once the moths think your flames have burned out, your work is completely snuffed out, and it’s time to build and burn something new.

Of course, you go and buy things with the digital bits that populate your digital bank, using a digital device that enables you to put the funny money you “earned” back into the economy. You give jobs to poor Asian laborers overseas, and jobs to pimply-faced, callow youth at the supermarket. Your purchases signal consumer confidence to investment banks, who become more willing to offer loans to individuals who want to start businesses of their own in hopes of making and selling something that isn’t fake.

Any number of these recipients can now send their kids to college, and you keep your fingers crossed that at least a tenth of them will study medicine so that you aren’t in too much pain in your final years.

There is no need to invent a new system, if your goal is simply making money. There are plenty of templates available online and at your public library–if you bother to learn them–where you can thereby succeed in making a few smart investments and more importantly, learn well from a few stupid ones.

There is no need to invent a new system, if your goal is offering up pithy wisdom, poetry or stories to a mass market. You could sit down for a few months and crack the code of bestsellers, and write a few of your own if you wanted to do that.

There is no need to invent a new system that helps people know God, or in a more sinister fashion, helps people come to know you as a god–there are plenty of templates and models available of systems which obtained varying degrees of success.

What you really want to do is invent a system that transforms people in a beautiful way that leaves them better people than they were when they entered your system. This, too, is nothing new, of course, though it is dubious if any system with such an abstract, lofty goal ever succeeded. You could argue that this system is really the ultimate goal of so many of those systems already described, or at least the goal described on the surface, though the real goal often ends up being simply a case of the system’s inventor and/or it’s participants wanting to obtain power over others.

No one who ever entered a system of self transformation, who had the ultimate goal of obtaining power over others, ever exited the system a better person than when they entered. The same can be said for most systems in general–you entered this web marketing system with the goal of making easy money to retire early and go off on an island and read books–and it has all but completely crushed and warped your spirit into some kind of monster who seeks only to stay on top of what the latest technology is for generating more business.

You entered the system of religion again after so many years, and soon discovered that if you are not careful to keep your focus on your relationship with God, you end up becoming some kind of monster who worries about how holy he is in relation to the other people in his church. You entered the nonprofit system with a goal of becoming a better person who lives for helping others, and you were transformed into a monster who lusted after ways of attracting donor dollars and screamed at the walls of empty rooms in anguish when nobody seemed to recognize your true worth to their organization.

You entered the system of higher education many years ago, hoping to be transformed into some kind of quasi-fraternity, big man on campus kind of player, and you left with a terrible addiction to booze and a complete sense of disenfranchisement about how anyone can achieve anything at a university other than delaying the inevitable requirement of growing up and getting a job.

You enter so many mini-systems each year, otherwise known as books, where authors ask for your indulgence to temporarily suspend some of your critical faculties to come along with them for a ride. And, you usually leave these systems at best distracted, and having gotten in a little harmless escapism–an alternative to watching the painfully stupid television.

You only find success in the system of the one-to-one conversation with an Other who helps you realize your creativity. Of course, such a person is utterly rare. Most people spurn one-to-one conversations in favor of rowdy, schizophrenic table talks that aimlessly and paradoxically wander this way and that. The few who do wish to bother taking the time to meet with you for a one-to-one conversation have no interest in doing anything other than politely listening to you talk of yourself for a few minutes before launching into talking of themselves for half an hour or more.

The person on this earth who would help you make the whole of a one-to-one conversation greater than its parts is almost non-existent. Even among the very few you’ve met where a true synergy was achieved at some point in the conversation, you’ve honestly felt on some level that they were merely patronizing you–doing their good deed for the week by talking to the lonely guy in the corner.

Is it possible to create a system whereby an outside Other is not necessarily required, and you allow some part of yourself to become the Other? That is the primary question. If it isn’t possible, then how do you develop some type of online social media technology where this kind of beautiful conversation can happen between two people? Or, is this even possible? Are all these sites, which are geared to primarily have a handful of loudmouths go at it, trying to one-up the other guy with their opinion to “win,” or geared to only allow for quick, 150-byte blips of ideas to be passed back and forth–are all these sites the only way web technology can serve us?