Build Your Own Intellectual Oasis

23 Oct

Published January 4, 2020 in Quillette

Two years ago I started an experiment I would like to recommend to you. At the urging of my best friend, concerned not just about my happiness but my mental health, I went dark. Perhaps if enough people give this a try it could help pull our troubled culture out of its downward spiral.

What do I mean by going dark? I’ve enjoyed a four-decade long career as an engineer, entrepreneur, and venture capital investor working with many others to help build the digital world in which we now live. As the years passed I became more of an “activist,” devoting increasing amounts of time, money, and attention to various issues and causes impacting the body politic. For 25 years I wrote regular opinion columns for publications like Network Computing and Communications Week, back in the pre-web days, transitioning to, the Huffington PostRealClear Markets, the Daily Caller, and the Foundation for Economic Education in the digital age. As my tech career began winding down I spent half a dozen years as a fellow at a Washington DC policy think tank, three as a radio show host on Bloomberg Radio where I had the pleasure of interviewing Claire Lehmann when Quillette was just a gleam in her eye, a couple of years as a roving lecturer on college campuses, all seasoned with a smattering of talking head appearances on TV. I had also been deeply engaged in social media since the phenomenon first emerged.

Then in January of 2018 I abruptly shut it all down, because my best friend was right.

To read the rest of the column, click here.


2 Responses to “Build Your Own Intellectual Oasis”

  1. Wayne Bennett October 24, 2020 at 11:44 am #

    There is a bit of irony here. Quillette claims:

    We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress

    Your concluding statement is:

    And rest assured that despite being told otherwise you will cease being part of the problem to the extent that you stop believing you must be part of every solution

    If your emphasis is on the word EVERY, then no worries, since very few people feel that particular need. But many people feel that for “human societies to flourish” it is incumbent upon us to be a part of some solutions.

    “Yes, the group is dominated by educated white males, but that’s a reflection of the professional and social communities where I’ve spent most of my life. It’s not my job to fix that.”

    Right. It’s not your job, but it’s an example of a problem that you might consider fixing since it could be fixed with a modest amount of outreach. In my case, that outreach is part of what you correctly describe as your only job – fixing myself.

  2. Bill Waddell October 30, 2020 at 8:17 pm #

    What a pleasant surprise to see your name pop up in my inbox once more.

    I too have known thousands of people during my lifetime, but your cutting down to a 50 person support group is more than all the people I currently know. As far as disengagement is concerned, I’ve got you beat.

    Best wishes.

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