Wednesday, March 24, 2010

OT - The ripple effect

I think a lot of folks in this world live under the impression that they have a larger impact on their world than they really do. While it's true that our actions will often have ramifications that extend far beyond the intended target, the impacts are generally not as long lasting as we might hope or expect.

A visualization

Imagine a big pond - flat, glassy, maybe sporting some lily pads and some tall grass near the shores. Your pond might even have some ducks, or storks even, and some fish swimming around in it. This is your world, and everything is connected into it in some way.

Now toss a rock into it - this can represent a blog post, an action in game, a forum post - anything. At the point of impact there might be a nice splash, and the ripples will run out fairly quickly. The further that each ripple travels, the smaller it gets, until eventually it either dissipates entirely or reaches the shore.

If it was a big enough rock, the splash might scare the birds, or startle the fish swimming around. If it hit the bottom hard enough, some silt might resettle in a slightly different place. After a few moments though, life on the pond would return to normal. The birds would land again, fish would swim back through the area, and any indication that a rock ever hit would be forgotten.

An example

World first LK kill by Ensidia, followed immediately by cries of foul play, and accusations of intentionally bugging the game. Ensidia is stripped of the kill, and is forced to take a three day hiatus. Blogs everywhere cover the story, and it's the WoW equivalent of Watergate.

A month later, you don't even hear about it. It might as well have never happened for all the impact that it had in the game. LK was hotfixed, equivalent to some silt settling differently and maybe giving us a new rock to swim around.

Angry blogs, wars against bloggers, rage-quits, grand kills, legendaries. None of these are more than a poke of a finger into a pool. Pull your finger out, and the water fills it right back. Despite what Maximus said, what we do does not in fact echo across an eternity.

The best we can hope for

I have always likened people to lumps of clay, or play-doh. I'm sure I actually heard this from someone famous, but I can't for the life of me remember where. The point is, here we are - lumps of clay going through our life. Each person that we meet, every interaction that we have, is us touching our balls of clay together. When you do that, a little bit of each ball transfers to the other, and the shape and composition is slightly changed.

If you're very lucky, you will make some sort of lasting impression on a person (hopefully in a good way), making them remember you fondly in the future. Thus it is also true that even bad interactions will leave a mark on someone, so don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise. Yes, the pond will return to its glossy sheen - but a tiny piece of you is now left with the other person.

It's where you've been and what you've done that make you who you are. - Jim Croce

1 comment:

  1. I, for one, kind of like that news is short lived on the internet. It means that whenever I screw up and make an ass of myself, I can hide for a few days and come back when everyone's forgotten all about it. ;D

    I see the internet more like a raging river, flowing very quickly. Not only will most stones make tiny ripples, but the water at a specific place changes every second.


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