Erik Larson

Sep 12, 2011

Oh, Right, I Have a Blog

I’ve been away on an extended hiatus as CEO of a software startup, which is still ongoing, but I just can’t stay away from blogging any longer. I picked up a copy of the NYT times this morning at the Starbucks, which is proof positive that I’m missing the ole’ blogging world.

So, I’ll start out modestly with a phenomenon that I’m sure we’re all familiar with, but is really kind of silly if one stops to consider…

The Token Door Shove… (dramatic music starts now)

This refers to the little polite “shove” we give the door as we’re entering a building and it’s closing on the person entering behind us. The TDS is silly because, more often than not, it makes zero difference to the life of the person behind us; in some cases it might actually make things nominally worse, as just opening the door afresh would be easier than attempting to coordinate the door grab post push. We just do this, of course, because it’s a signal that we recognize the person behind us, which in general is a good thing. But, again, it’s silly because it doesn’t really matter. It masquerades as having some positive benefit, when in fact it’s pure theater (if it actually does help in some particular case, great, but it’s a knee jerk thing that we never figure in the first place, which is The Point). How many other benign actions do we engage in just to reassure those around us that we’re polite members of civilization? How about, the little purse of the lips we give to passersby? Do you know the one? Ever so soft and reassuring, and completely useless, unless it’s midnight in a shady part of town, of course, where it might give evidence that we’re not in attack mode with, say, a rusty screwdriver concealed behind our back (but what if it’s just facial expression subterfuge? ). But if we’re in the shady part of town, we wouldn’t look at the passerby at all, would we? So, again, we’re hell bent on appearing polite to each other, whether we’re actually helpful to another, or not.