One day I may know someone who knows someone who also knows someone else, which will give me just the right connection I need to get what I want. To get to that level I first need to make as many superficial connections as possible. The group of people standing only two or three degrees away will need to be cultivated, refined, engaged, and grown so they are in the right positions of power to serve me and only me. So I do what anyone else in my position must do to survive – network.
There are so many social events developed around this very concept – getting disparate people into the same room, forced small talk, exchange of stolid information, public performance behind the masks we wear for the world to see and like. A network is a commodity, traded in social and professional situations every day. We like to have romantic notions about merit and merit alone leading to upward mobility and success, but that’s the stuff of fairly tales. Of course we have anomalous examples all around us, continuously amplified to help us believe in the fairly tale, but for you and me, it’s a dream, no more realistic than buying a winning lottery ticket.
So we are left with what is within our control. We try to always put on a smile, dress for the role we’re playing in life, and practice witty lines and small talk. All with one goal in mind. To extract something from someone else and give considerably less in return. Otherwise, what’s the point of all the effort? Our personality and charms must help us grow a large network of acquaintances. We must always do more, say more, be more. More is the unattainable end of life lived in the construction of self-worth and social value. More is the warm blanket we cover ourselves with for contentment.
But isn’t there more to it you say? Can someone be their natural self and stand apart from the crowd? Is it possible to refrain from all networking in the service of an unattainable end? Observe and not participate? To this I say, the bigger the herd the better for you. Today you can only ever realize your self in the eyes and on the backs of others – your network, curated to fulfill, reflect, and validate you.