Why is it, The Law?!?


Birth of Mennonite movement

Birth of Mennonite movement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or, is it more of a guideline, than a rule? Here’s what I know, and not necessarily, when I knew it. The Law of Unintended Consequences exists in all endeavors, simply because you can’t plan for the unknown. The reason should be obvious, however, for the Amish among you, if you could plan for it, it would be known, and of course, not unknown.


What this means is, nobody knows anything. All we have are facts. The facts may lead you to a conclusion, however, your conclusion may be erroneous. Simply because some outside factor that you can’t possibly plan for because you don’t know that it exists, will take place, and then you’re hosed. Or screwed. Or, scrod in the future pluperfect tense.


I realize that I’ve buried the lead, but I can do that, as this isn’t news, it’s an opinion column, that is mine, as I do have one, but thusly, The Law of Unintended Consequences states that no matter what precautions you take, something unexpected will take place, and you’ll be at a point where maybe, things have gone horribly wrong. At which point, you may have to start over, accept the unintended consequences, or bail altogether.


For instance, you’re reading this after the election in the US, and I’m writing it beforehand. Therefore, you know who’s won, and I don’t. The media thinks they know, but they may be wrong. Hey, it could happen. According to those in the know, it already has, but I digress….


So, what this means is, you know more than I do by the time you read this. But I don’t know what you know. I may think I know, but I don’t. Because of the aforementioned law, which may only be a rule, or a guideline. If we are to define insanity, as some would, by doing the same thing and expecting to achieve different results, it follows that a definition of sanity would be the obverse, or, doing different things to achieve the same result.


The problem is, due to The Law, we don’t know what that result actually is. And, it may not be what you were originally going for. Sure, when walking forward, you may reasonably assume that at some point, you may get to where you’re going. However, to travel from here to there, you first have to take half the distance to get from there back to here. And, you must repeat the process ad nauseam, until you almost get to where you’re going.


Almost anything can happen during the time you’re traversing half the distance. Or to put more succinctly, you have a choice to make. If you make either one of two or possibly three choices as we’ve previously discussed, you can feel confident in the fact that you’ve made a choice, but not that you know how that choice is going to turn out.


For instance, when you come to a fork in the road, as we’ve previously discussed, and for sake of illustration, you can go either left or right. Now, you would think you have two possible outcomes with the choice you’re making, however, there’s actually four, as you must accept the fact that you didn’t make the other choice. How does this make you feel? You can’t know, because, It’s the LAW!!!

Disclaimer:  As described above, I wrote this before the 2008 elections, and it was published after we knew who won. I’ve left it intact, as the same rule applies to the repost. I haven’t added any links, and I’d like to hope I’m 4 years wiser.

Are You Linked In?

Back in the 90’s, I’m sure you remember, an actor named Kevin Bacon was apparently in every movie known to man, which led him to comment in a Premiere magazine interview in 1994, that he’d worked with most everybody in Hollywood, which inspired the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Historically, or perhaps hysterically, based on the notion of six degrees of separation, which was already a broadway play, and then became a movie of the same name.

If you’re one or two of the three people that haven’t heard of this, the concept is simple; by knowing someone who knows someone else, who then quite possibly knows a 3rd person, and so on, you may get an intro to a person that might eventually be able to help you out. See also Pay It Forward, and networking.

The concept is not new, it is however recently formalized, by the fine folks at LinkedIn. They’ve trimmed it down, as you’re only allowed to have up to three levels of connections. Of course, if one of your 3rd level connections knows someone else’s 3rd level connection, it should be possible to complete the legendary six degrees.

As with everything else in life, the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in, and now what we have there and elsewhere, including Myspace, and Facebook to name two of the most famous social networks, is a competition to see who can get the most friends. Of course, LinkedIn is for business, so, they call them contacts, or connections, on the theory that one of these people might actually hire you to do something for someone, at sometime in the immediate or far future.

We can even take a look at the word network. It’s actually a compound word, combining the words net, and well, work. A net is something you cast, or use to catch butterflies, and work is what you should be doing instead of reading this. And believe me, networking on Linked In is no different. They have rules. You have to know the person you’re connecting to, or, have worked with them in the past or present, or, be a member of a group that your intended connection is a member of as well.

This last one is especially important, as they’ve come up with a unique take on groups, including discussions within them. Another fancy way of compiling a mailing list, if you ask me. If your within the same group, you may exchange emails, even though you may not be directly connected. And circumvent the need to be introduced to your intended connection.

Another anomaly that has sprouted up, is the need to be well, everyone’s friend. Thus, Linked In Open Networkers was formed, or LIONs as they’ve dubbed themselves. These guys and gals accept all comers, whether they know of you or not. As a result of these two phenomena, the fine folks at LI have come up with limits on the number of groups you can join, as well as the number of invites you can send out. Once you’re out of invites, you’re out.

This has led to some interesting addictive behavior, including but not limited to, people joining groups, and giving out their email address to any and all members, in an effort to make someone else, or several someone else’s use up their invites. And giving out your email address to just anyone is what LI was attempting to avoid in the first place, by creating a so called safe environment where people from different backgrounds and locales, could safely meet and discuss business, or try to get work.

I read in a recent issue of some psychology magazine to be named later, that you can only maintain roughly 150 unique relationships give or take, as your brain can’t handle any more than that. So, it follows that an effort to win the infinite friend game is fruitless in its attempt to prove that you have the most friends.

So, could someone tell me what I’m supposed to do with my 278 connections?

Original Disclaimer: Mike is either a poker player, or a filmmaker, depending on when or where you ask him. He is Linked In at http://www.linkedin.com/in/allaroundneatguy and his blog can be found at http://whoisthewatchmaker.blogspot.com/ If you wish to connect with him in any way.

Newer Disclaimer: I wrote this four years ago, and it is the first in the Idea Masters™ series that I contributed to. Since then, I have gained over a thousand more connections on LinkedIn™, and yet, none of them have hired me yet….