The night before last, I attended a weird, 21st century version of a book launching – digital technology – publicity event called ignitempls. I needed to attend this, to see how digital natives interact with digital immigrants, to understand social media, to stay current for my job.
Twenty three presenters had five minutes each to communicate their message to an unruly, and incredibly geeky hip crowd, many of whom were twittering their responses to these presenters in the midst of the quasi-presentations. First up was William Gurstelle – a high energy, engaging personna, who made a compelling case that even 21st century human beings are programmed to take risks. His presentation was entitled “The Art of Living Dangerously“. The premise was that humans need to live dangerously to satisfy a basic, primal human drive. He illuminated that some of the greatest inventors in history (you’ll have to get the book – I think David Packard of HP fame among them) have blown off thumbs while experimenting. Honestly, it seems a missing thumb is almost a prerequisite for invention success. Who knew that without risks, humans are basically, well, lacking?
I don’t know what other attendees were thinking, but here’s what I thought: I started wondering what real risks Mr. Gustelle had taken, beyond crazy experiments with catapults and trebuchets .
Clearly, he’s practiced what he preaches. He’s crafted a livelihood on his own, branching beyond the typical corporate 9 to 5, or 8 to 6, or 7 to 7 , five or six or seven day a week job. He’s written books. He’s put himself out there and, good for him, he’s apparently been successful.
But equating risk of the life he’s lived with DANGER, I don’t know. I can’t quite get there. It felt pretty surreal to me, to be listening to that self-imposed risk taker while feeling very connected to our soldiers, who are in real danger.
IEDs comes out of the ground and rocket propelled granades come whizzing out of thin air, trying to blow them up. The men they work with, men who are supposed to be on our side, are being bribed to be suicide bombers to blow them up.
Blowing things up and getting blown apart is consistent in war. But it’s way more than the occasional thumb that is at risk.