Mind Programming, or How I Learned To Stop Fearing The Unknown and Get on with My Life

Collecting quotes from the web and books that I think are profound or funny is a hobby of mine. A simple sequence of words can change the way a person thinks. I find this fascinating and I’m not alone.

Neal Stephenson explores the idea of a virus for the mind in the cyberpunk novel, “Snow Crash”. While Stephenson’s vision was extreme and fantastical it had some basis in reality, for example the use of “Glossolalia” to spread the virus. The antagonist used a mixture of technology and ancient linguistic magic in order to control the “infected”.

In my opinion a quote can really affect how you see the world and the actions you take. The use of linguistics and the turn of a phrase to influence another’s behaviour or even change their very character. I’m reminded of this quote:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Unknown Origin

Arguably you are programming your brain every time you pick up a book or article as the author hooks into your thoughts, influencing your words, your actions and ultimately your destiny. Strengthening a pathway to an action by the use of language. The spread of ideas, political or otherwise, behaves like a virus that builds society. The ideas could be good or bad but they’re still going to spread. Hate, love, knowledge, peace, war. All ideas are propagated by language. Remember that language is anything that can be used to convey information. Symbols, images, actions, gestures, and most obviously words.

An interesting trend is that some people are more apt to pick up ideas and spread them where others are wired to act on the ideas and focus on them and only them.

Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it’s the only one you have
Emile-Auguste Chartier

Then there are the magic individuals that can do both. I like to think these people are the entrepreneurs. Taking ideas, growing them, realising them, sharing them and then moving onto the next. That’s what I aspire to, respect and ultimately hope that I can be. The lack of fear, the bravery to put what you have made out into the world and stick two fingers up to the people who said it wasn’t possible or just a gimmick.

The entrepreneurs, the ones you can trust to stick it out, to push through the Dip, to tell you the truth, to hire and lead and inspire… that is the scarce resource.

Seth Godin

However, a fear of sharing ideas is built into our capitalist society because we have been programmed to look for opportunity and exploit it for personal gain. Which in turn gives us the fear of sharing ideas in case others do it. A social evolution of survival of the fittest instinct. It is this fear which holds us back, cages creativity and forces us into a lifetime of want. Always thinking, I could do this but what if? Entrepreneurs are the people who answer that question.

One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Traditionally an entrepreneur is a business owner, a money maker.  I’d like to expand on Seth’s definition above because I think in the age of the web this simply isn’t true anymore.

If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.
Booker T. Washington

An entrepreneur is first and foremost a facilitator. Someone who’s willing to start something, be it a community, a ridiculous thread or a world changing web application.

The web is changing the face of the social landscape daily. Communities that act as a single entity for pushing ideas, building amazing products just for the sheer enjoyment of producing. Collaboration and content generation are running at an unprecedented level. Twitter is a prime example. Facebook is another. Ideas and feedback for products are flooding into the public domain. Entrepreneurs are becoming more common but on a smaller scale and of a new breed. The ones who propagate file sharing and spend countless hours ripping DVDs and music only to give it away, just for the hell of it. That is entrepreneurial.

New products surge and fall faster than most people can follow, excuse the pun. In my twisted view of the world, this is a Good Thing™.

If each of us have one object, and we exchange them, then each of us still has one object. If each of us have one idea, and we exchange them, then each of us now has two ideas.

George Bernard Shaw

This is the real New World Order. A single community driven on communication. A community that can rise up to do great things and change the world even if it’s just in a small way, even if it’s just the simple act of naming a humpback whale “Mr Splashy Pants”.

Happiness is only real when shared.
Chris McCandless [In the film Into The Wild]

So, concluding. If information can be used to program the mind then the internet is a giant database of code that like any code, if used correctly can do great things. I’m trying to do that everyday. My tools are Google Reader and a thirst for knowledge. My fuel is the Internet. Really I just wanted to use some quotes in a post. Thanks for reading.

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