I’d like to tell you about how I met a new friend and why it matters.
I have this vision of the future. In fact, it’s kind of like one of those quantum physics analogies. The double-slit experiment for modern human spacetime.
By observing the future through present thought, the future is altered.
Anyway, my family & I were on our way to touch the snow in the Sierras when we decided, before fully exiting Silicon Valley, to stop for some coffee and a potty break.
At this time, some of the pandemic restrictions had just begun to lift and it felt like a new wave of more enjoyable normal was beginning. I was in a good mood! As I waited outside for my family, I happened to be waiting somewhat near another human being, you know - within social distance rather than wrapped in fear & social distancing.
So, this other human being was easily within earshot of my speech level greeting. Neither of us wore masks and we were therefore able to enjoy the full capability of our facial expression body language. After all, a mask masks a smile. Yet, there was still a potential barrier between he & I.
He had earbuds in.
If I wasn’t me or if I was better able to suppress being me, I probably wouldn’t have bothered the guy. But alas, I am therefore I think, and I think therefore I speak. “Hi” was probably all I said, along with a much more expressive demonstration of body language to indicate a desire to communicate. I had already inferred by his body language that he was not on a phone call and was more likely listening to a podcast or music or something. He later confirmed this, after pausing the content, and we enjoyed a refreshing in-person conversation between two complete strangers outside a coffee shop on the outskirts of Silicon Valley.
See, this is the thing. This is why what we do here in Tech is so fundamental, so critical for human beings. This human experiment started a long time ago; all we can do now is observe it and note the impacts of our observations.
In order to wield the power of Technology for the benefit of Humanity rather than the benefit of Few, we better pay careful attention.
But I digress.
My new friend & I were connecting over the little white buds in his ears. I know what you’re thinking - you love your AirPods too - but he wasn’t wearing AirPods. I know this at a glance not only because AirPods have become iconic features of the world’s ears, but also because I’ve worked on all 5 models of AirPods that Apple has released, including one that was almost never released!
So I knew without a doubt that the little white stemless buds in his ears were not made by Apple. But I had a hunch which buds these were and I was curious to chat. Our conversation, as fate would have it, was much more impactful than I had expected or had even recognized at the time.
We talked not only about AirPods & earbuds but about Tech Titans and pandemic parenthood. We talked about culture and leadership. We talked about values and profits. We talked about silicon and Silicon Valley. We talked about driving to the Sierras and about walking to your local coffee shop.
In essence, our entire conversation was about being Alive in Tech in Silicon Valley in 2022.
I have a strong feeling that this conversation with a stranger will be remembered years from now as the first conversation between two long-time friends.