The Nine Faces of Dave
2004-06-17 04:10:02 (UTC)

like a mild Zelig

In the last few weeks, I've been subjected to a great number
of televised sporting events. My roommates all follow some
sports, so the TV is often tuned to ESPN or whatever station
is showing a game. What surprises me is that I've actually
enjoyed watching the games.

This is all but unprecedented for me, as I've never enjoyed
watching sports on TV, though being there is great. Now, I
actually have taken a liking to watching sports, or at least
I don't mind it. Aside from Cubs games and the NBA finals,
I haven't cared much who won (Detroit!), but I have enjoyed
watching for the quality of play.

Looking back on parts of my life in light of this, I realize
just how much I've been influenced by the people around me.
It's not so much a peer pressure thing, but rather that when
I've been around people a lot, and things are good, I often
tend to become more like them. The reverse happens when I'm
not around them as much, or when things go south.

Now this begs two questions:
1) How much of me is natural, and how much is the result of
the friends I've had over the years?
2) Have I had the same effect on other people, and if so, to
what extent?

I guess the first one is sort of another way of asking "Why
are people the way they are?" And the second might just as
well be "Why are some people different from most of us?"

In some ways, this whole development is disturbing. I never
realized before just how susceptible I am to influences from
other people. Before, I thought I was an independent person
who could evaluate everything for himself and decide on his
own what he liked and didn't. And now it's apparent that my
patterns of tastes have been largely a result of the company
I keep.

In some ways it makes me feel a bit less authentic. But I'm
not a total fraud; I don't know many people who are into the
comics I read, or the old TV shows I enjoy, or the stranger
movies I watch. Granted, some of it I've been introduced to
by other people (Cerebus is a good example), but all told I
think a lot of that is still pretty much my own doing.

I am, however, curious to know what sort of influence I have
had on others, and what determines the degree of influence.
Raw charisma? Well-crafted charm? Physical presence? Who
knows. What I do know is that now that I realize all this,
I can probably more easily spot the phenomenon as it happens
around me, and maybe even benefit from my new awareness.

Of course, it would be wrong to exploit social phenomena for
personal gain, especially if the other people aren't always
aware of the phenomena themselves. Oh wait, I forgot, that
happens to be the whole basis of the advertising industry.

In all seriousness, I have no plans to manipulate anyone in
any way using this newfound knowledge of mine. But I think
it might help me see things in a new light.

And if that light happens to come in different colors, well
maybe we can have a rave.

This is Dave, signing off.