On being replacable

I re-read my Laborator post the other day and one paragraph tied into something else I’ve been reading lately:

Any communal project is a marathon rather than a sprint: It’s important to be able to step back and trust your collaborators to follow the plans you’ve agreed upon, but when stuff falls through you need to be there to pick up the slack – and plans always shift, since life happens – regardless if it’s you or someone else who dropped the ball.

Starting a biohacking lab in Gothenburg, looking back at Laborator

I don’t know why this sentence felt like such a revelation: Stuff getting done might actually depend on you! It’s my recurring theme of feeling replaceable, and actually seeing that as a virtue. It’s possible that my focus on automating, simplifying, and categorizing information and functions stems from my own low self-esteem, where I don’t see my own value but rather only what I contribute with.

A second reason for this way of thinking is political – If I accept that there are things that I’m better at doing, my (oh so human) fallibility and vanity will start using that as an excuse for getting my way – regardless of my motivations or if it’s a “good” idea. This ties in with my anarchist persuasion – I’m 100% unformfortable with anyone who strives to power, because power always corrupts in some way.

But I can sense that I’m changing as a person, and I’m starting to become willing to accept a certain level of corruption. It’s still corruption mind, but the progress we’ve made as a species is a result of different wills enforcing their will upon others – striving for power to make their ideas come true first, worrying about the corruption of their motives and personality second.

So I’m going to try to go out on a limb and effect the world around me a bit more. Take a bit more responsibility, but also acknowledge that not everyone will agree with me, and that I myself might think that I’m wrong down the line.

I take heart in an illustration by Jessica Hagy from one of her recent newsletters:

Illustration with text: What if my work is bad? Bad is subjective. Do whatever you want.

The book I’m reading that got me thinking about this is Jaron Laniers “You are not a gadget” (which I was certain that I’d read already, but no). I’m not finished with it yet, but what has stuck with me is his conviction that what is worth preserving and promoting is the individual humanity and the freedom to act on it. I’ll do a second post on it once I’m done (36 notes so far using the brilliant Bookfusion app), but the book has given me ideas and motivation to find other ways of collaborating and doing stuff.

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