Seth had a nice post on blogs yesterday where he explained that, as the internet focuses on clicks, Facebook and Google have been doing a lot to make reading blogs harder. He said something that rings very true – reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. Blogs are so much better than the news in many respects – and I have an example to share that illustrates just that. (Also, thanks, Seth, for sharing this blog..)
Dave Winer is the authors of one of the internet’s first blogs. He had a fantastic post on “Your human-size life” in which he takes a philosophical look at a piece of controversy around Peter Thiel and Gawker media. In short, Gawker published an article in 2007 announcing Peter Thiel’s homosexuality before Thiel had begun talking about it in public. It turns out Thiel has been plotting revenge for many years and, recently, Thiel was found to be funding lawsuits against Gawker that threaten the existence of the company. There are many sub plots here and Gawker is by no means innocent either. But, at the end of the day, this is one of the world’s richest people extracting revenge on a media outlet that pissed him off.
I am going to pick out my favorite pieces from Dave’s post – but I encourage you to go over and read the post in full.
One of the biggest mistakes rich people make is to try to live larger than a single human being can. A mathematical impossibility. You can buy a big house, but you can only sleep in one bedroom at a time. You can own twenty fantastic cars, airplanes and yachts, but you can only be in one at a time.
And it’s even worse than it appears — the struggle to live more than one life will fail, and it will make you feel like a failure, just as you felt before you made the money! So being rich does not mean success if your goal is to achieve immortal super-human-ness.
You can see that horrific struggle in Peter Thiel’s actions and statements. He says he’s going to live forever, and so will today’s college grads. And I assume in the back of his mind he’s also going to solve the problem of just getting one body to use. He will persevere and find a way to sleep in his San Francisco mansion and his New York penthouse at the same time. But here’s the problem — even if he achieves these goals, and of course he won’t — he still won’t be happy.
I can say this with some certainty because I’ve been down the road he’s on, and I got off. And I just watched. Watched as the super-rich of my generation got old and their arteries hardened. They got used to talking to servants, and having their asses kissed at all times, and never having to listen to anyone tell them they’re full of shit. I’m a few years older than Thiel, and if he had seen what I have seen, he wouldn’t be so happy about living forever.
I think we all need a struggle, I think that’s where our creativity comes from. We need something that feels unattainable, but actually is not. But the struggle to rise above our humanity, that’s not going to happen for any of us. And the desire to have it robs your very human life of any value.
Joe had it right. Live a gentle human-size life. Go for a walk in your middle-class neighborhood and run into a friend of a friend and share what you see, and influence their life for the better. That’s the kind of thing a human can do. And it is, imho, where happiness comes from.
Thank you, Dave, for your generosity.