In Acknowledgement of Unintended Outcomes, Good and Perhaps Not So
The world is filled with unintended outcomes. I, for example, do not believe that the nice folks that make FitBits believed it would be fair to put in their ‘pitch deck’ a claim of heightened sense of community among the wearers. And, yet, that has been one of the processional effects of wearing mine for the past year. I walk. I walk up and down my Manhattan neighborhoods. On a nice morning, I log upwards of 4,000 steps and 10 sets of stairs, before 7 a.m. just because I live in the Carnegie Hill environs.
Beyond the obvious benefits to me and my trusty doglet, Fluffy, there is for me a renewed sense of living in Manhattan. Of having a neighborhood. Of noticing mums replacing summer plantings in the various townhouse gardens. Of doormen who nod their good mornings.
There are, of course, less prosaic unintended outcomes. One of them that has come to mind recently in the hyper-charged political environment we’ll be living in for the next five weeks or so is our seemingly tacit agreement not to discuss our POVs, except among friends we know to be like-minded. I have a profoundly preferred candidate. I feel strongly about the issues facing us. Yet, I do not wear any of the candidate pins I’ve amassed, even when I’m out on an early morning hike and unlikely to be seen by anyone save the earliest of commuters, purposefully trudging their own ways, heads down and eyes on their smart phones. There are no yard signs as I walk my walk. No candidate’s sticker on the hundreds of cars I pass, parked on the streets. I don’t see anyone else badging themselves on behalf of either candidate. Perhaps it's different in suburbia.
There’s a curious silence, perhaps broken in the haven of our own homes when we ‘talk among ourselves.’ Perhaps it’s just too charged. Perhaps we’ve just become too scared of each other. Perhaps there’s a pent-up fury just barely contained within a surface calm. We have our political gladiators who will duke it out for us, so we don’t have to vent our worries, dreads, disappointments, visions, pride and hopes. Maybe we’re just tired of branding ourselves with t-shirts and bumper stickers for anything. But it does seem a shame. Civil discourse and the open exchange of ideas by an involved electorate seems on paper to be a grand idea. Perhaps just not this election cycle.