Second Chances and My New Digital Self

Yesterday while working I received a chat message in Google Gmail from a colleague on a project I’m working on. These days, just getting a chat message is not a big deal, but as someone from *ahem* the dawn of email, the real time nature of chat still takes some getting used to. Nevertheless, I use chat along with a growing plethora of social network related sites and applications. As a professional and an enthusiast, I’m intrigued by the opportunities these tools present to create a new digital self. But do you create the person you are, or the one you want to become?

I used to joke that I come from the time when people used their real names on the Internet. But in an age of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and soon Google Wave, it seems that that time has come again. While I have no intention of spreading my real name all over the net in anything less than a professional context, I am becoming more comfortable with the notion of embracing a digital self more identified with my real self.

It feels like a second chance to reach out in ways not limited by physical separation, or a dubious set of in-person social skills. Well, I’m not really all that bad in person, but I’m no social butterfly either. In any case, I’m excited by the possibilities and filled with a new courage to be who I am as well as who I want to become.


Schadenfreude and Global Warming

With a new administration in the US White House, I think we are poised to make some real progress in combating global warming. The crazy weather I’ve seen over the last few years in the Chicago area makes me wonder if this is only a taste of what is to come if we do nothing. Still, there is a lot of resistance to doing what is needed and even dispute over whether global warming due to human activities is real or not. Even if it isn’t, I don’t see anything bad about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generally taking better care of the Earth.

If positive arguments don’t make a dent in the psyches of many, perhaps an opposite approach would yield results. In short, the climate changes due to global warming may actually benefit some regions of the world. While this isn’t very likely, it is a possibility. If the many of the rich are devastated while some of the poor elevated by climatic changes, then maybe the rich will get off their butts and do something. No one, especially the rich, wants to be on the opposite end of someone else’s schadenfreude. Perhaps the fear that someone else will benefit from our misfortune will be enough to motivate us to do the right thing.