Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Look at ME! Don't Look at me!

I've been thinking about getting a sports car, something mid engine, 0-60 miles per hour less than 6 seconds, the farther under 3000 pounds the better. Why? Because they are fun!

However, on a deeper level, I blew three years of life savings on Mt. Everest last year and it basically all evaporated in an avalanche. Sure I had enjoyment out of that trip, I learned a lot, mostly about relationships, and I made new friends, and have the offer of a discount if/when I return to Everest. Point being, I laid all of that money on a gamble at an opportunity, and I lost. Buying a fun little sports car, like my nice road bicycle, is something that I can enjoy just about every day.

I like big goals, I love commitment, but in between the huge things, It's nice to laugh on a run on a sunny day. It's nice to hug a friend. It's nice to climb a 40 foot tall climbing route in Iowa. It's nice to survive, like actually physically alive, to the next payday. Small victories are definitely a lure.

As I have been taking more of an interest in sports cars the last few months, or half year really, I've looked at vehicles more than any other previous time in my life. Driving a minivan around, people don't really look at you, unless the giant dent in my hood scares them that I might hit pedestrians, in which case they look at me before crossing the street. Driving my little Honda Insight I get a few looks, the wheel covers are pretty distinctive, but most people have seen them before so it's no big deal.

Reading the articles, and talking to people, vehicles are something that people use to define themselves. People drive what they feel describes them. Okay, maybe not all people, maybe not even most people, however I live in the rarified world of wealthy engineers, and people are continually buying newer cars. It must be said that many people do legitimately view vehicles are something to get them from point A to point B with X number of people or Y volume of stuff. Those people drive minivans or compact cars. Ok I'm joking, mostly.

One of the challenges of any out of the ordinary vehicle is the "look at me" factor. In other words, in an analogy, yes I have a website, I blog a lot, I realize I come across as arrogant, but have you ever met me? This blog functions as my outlet for all of the vain attention I want, and frankly I don't care if you read it, it's most important to me that I simply write it. In real life I can sit back and be quiet and listen. The challenge of something physical and flashy, specifically a sports car, is it is really fun to drive, but it comes with all of the unwanted nonverbal communication that I am rich, that I speed, that I live life fast or dangerously, that I want attention.

I read recently that Oprah thought most people had a need or desire to be validated. Umm, yeah! I enjoy mountaineering and running because they are so personal, can I do it? It's me against myself. Yet in engineering, where I spend the majority of my time, or in relationships, it's not me validating myself, there is a crew of people validating me. The problem is, something like a sports car to me seems too close to the external validation rather than the internal validation. In other words, if I buy one, I'm not going to tell people about it as long as I can because I don't want it to change my relationships.

The battle we wage within ourselves for external validation on one hand and privacy on the other is bound to increase in the future. We surely don't think of it in this way, but people do things to get good pictures or credibility on social media. Maybe this only affects me. I suppose thinking back 200 years, it was probably similar, you had a reputation in your small community and you had what you do when no one else is around. In some ways today and the future is more like the long ago past than the last few decades.

This topic brings up another question, Pakistan or Nepal in 2016?


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