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Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Open Travelers

Someone once commented on my openness online (journal, home page, etc..) and asked if I was that way in real life. "Of course!" I said, "Life is too short to spend it hiding."

And in reflecting on the meaning of my own words, I realize the world is large enough that I will never run out of people to offend or scare away, so I have nothing to lose by doing so. And in return I gain those who are not offended or scared. The trick, I realize, is that I keep the latter, while discarding (and being discarded by) the former, and so this process of churning is a significant net win, and the more and faster I do it the better.

But these rules might be quite different if my life were more normal in the first place: If I lived in one spot, worked near home at the same job with the same people for many many years, went to the same bar, kept the same hobbies, etc.. etc... Then, my world would not be so large after all, and I might actually run out of people to offend (and hence out of chances to find people who I wouldn't offend); and more immediately I would be forced to continue to interact with those who didn't approve of me.

And from that perspective, I can see why most people hide: because they have less raw material to work with and so have to treat it much more gently. (And this is greatly amplified if they believe in an afterlife of any sort since they have until infinity to run again into those they've offended.)

Me, I have the whole world, and but one life to try to exhaust it. The only people I am somewhat forced to interact with other than by choice are my current and immediate neighbors (and thus, as it follows, I am much less open with them).

Think of the freedom of it: to show everyone you meet exactly who you really are, knowing that if they don't approve there are six billion more to choose from. Obviously it's not that simple, but it captures the essence of it.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com