July 26, 2012
Interesting article about the glass closet in the WSJ that I was interviewed for in July 2012. Here is the link. And to all the media outlets that keep calling to ask me to name names...with all due respect, forget it!
March 3, 2012
Conformity is defined by Merriam Webster as “action in accordance with some specified standard or authority.” Autonomy on the other hand is often defined as “moral independence” and “self-directed freedom.” It’s like taking your dog to a dog park and removing his leash. When he is no longer traveling along a path where he must conform to your specified standards or authority, he immediately begins to romp and roam in new directions along a self-directed path in pursuit of meaning and amusement. Whether marking the trunk of a far away tree, smelling a distant blade of grass, or chasing a Lakeland Terrier on the other side of the park, conformity as a guiding force loses out every time to autonomy. Today in 2012, as a society, our own movements as we pursue meaning and amusement are less and less guided by conformity and more and more guided by autonomy.
Comparatively, these two words, conformity and autonomy represent polar opposite guiding forces. One is about behavior motivated by others and one is about behavior motivated by oneself. Traditionally, conformity has always been a powerful guiding force in our society, motivating people at work, at play, and at home. Why? Because conformity is ultimately about gaining acceptance—and as a society built upon the pursuit of sameness--acceptance has largely been achieved by following a path already laid out by others. For example, from major religions to the military, historically speaking, in order to be accepted as part of these communities of sameness, people seeking to join their ranks had to conform to the values and beliefs of those already on the inside.
In this sense, it can be argued that conformity as a behavioral motivation has long been based upon absolutes. For example, in order to be accepted into most religions, it’s necessary to publicly profess agreement with their beliefs and values—beliefs and values that for the most part are set in stone. In Christianity, the Ten Commandments are even physically depicted as being “set in stone,” embraced as fixed truths that will never change.
However, conformity is losing its grip because sameness isn’t nearly as powerful of a guiding force in a society with omnipresent access to view all that exists in the world. Why? Because our perception is ultimately what shapes our beliefs and values and that omnipresent access to all that exists in the world obliterates absolutes because it obliterates our fear of the unknown. Consider that each time we connect to the world our perception is instantly transformed as we see more and more. And it’s this ever-expanding view that grants us both the “moral independence” and “self-directed freedom” to cast off our own cultural leashes to chase meaning and amusement in new directions. It’s much like losing your car keys at night in a parking lot. If they aren’t directly under the light, you can’t find them because you can’t see them in the darkness. And its scarey to venture off into the darkness. However, connection is flipping on the lights on for all of us, turning the unknown into the known in a way that human kind has never experienced. And when the lights of “knowingness” are turned on--brighter and brighter each day--we are no longer afraid to romp and roam beyond our traditional boundaries of sameness in pursuit of meaning and amusement because they are now bathed in light. It’s part of society’s changing navigation system that is forever transforming the path to meaning in America.
January 13, 2012
Here's a link to my new article on Huffington Post titled, "Culture Crack: How Connection is Changing Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in America." I've already received several emails from people sharing the changes they have experienced in their lives as a result of connection. There have been over 50 tweets sharing the article since it was published earlier in the week. I hope you enjoy it!