Living Well, Connecting Thoughtfully, How You Can Help

As New Dream has been rethinking our social networking strategies, I've been revisiting what this internet thing is supposed to be for, anyway. It's something many of us probably wonder while we rush from email to Facebook and now to Twitter...How do these extra responsibilities that we've added to our day actually add something to our days?

From its earliest days, the internet has whispered promises of linking together the whole World in a Web as Wide as the imagination. And to some extent it has delivered. I can go online and see videos of people living lives I couldn't have imagined. Work from anywhere. Nurture friendships with people who live far away and perhaps have never met. Since I'm in the website business, among other things, I obviously don't have too many Luddite tendencies, so I'm not saying that we should all pull the plug on our well-nurtured internet lives... Just that I'm trying to be more conscious of how I shape this space--an in-between realm as thin as a dream and as real as a revolution--and how it shapes me.


In particular, I've noticed that the more spaces in which I communicate, the more I feel scattered. At times I look back at my day and think, "Well, I sure did a lot, but what did I do well?" On any given day I want to be able to say I did at least one thing well--maybe not perfectly, but thoroughly and thoughtfully.

It's this sentiment of intentionality that New Dream advocates in all areas of a life well-lived. Since all good online presences seek to mirror one's ideals, we're seeking. We want to know what you've done well today; or what you want to do. We want to know not only what you've done to help make the world a greener place, we want to know what it meant to you. Who or what comes to your mind when you decide on a more preferable product in the store? What's the payback you get for taking a little extra time to reuse rather than buy new? What is your version of a sustainable lifestyle?

It may be that when we feel scattered by online pursuits we're actually doing something right: growing a new vision of what it is to be a self. Natural, just a different sort of natural. The rhizome concept scattered all over the web took its inspiration from a natural phenomenon: a particular way in which a plant can spread underground. The Rhizome Project traces the use of the term in its application to digital media, art, and philosophy to postmodern philosopher Gilles Deleuze.  Their description of a rhizome:

This project is about digital identities and addresses the issue of the fractured nature of the self when our online identities become distributed across multiple sites and services.

"Fractured" doesn't have to be negative: what is lost in centralization is gained in partial perspectives that offer multiple points of entry and connection. Think of the surprise that's always waiting for us every time we go online: there are just as many surprises waiting for us in the real world...But I am always struck by the hunger to connect and to know that is everywhere--in cell phone conversations and various sorts of messaging, and I think we must be somewhat the richer for having more ways to sate that hunger.

As New Dream grows its online identities, we hope to encounter you in mulitple entry points along the way, criss-crossing with your other social networking selves.  After all, you are the faces and voices of the New American Dream, so we'll be counting on you to inform us and surprise us as we dream the dream forward.

What's your attitude towards the possibilities of connection online?

Tags: Connect, Living the dream, Networking, Online, Philosophy, Rhizome, Self, Technology, Web

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