I met the future of America today

I met the future of America today. Technically I’ve met him a number of times, our kids flail around at Tae Kwon Do together. 

But get this — F.J. Sands got up at 5:30 this morning to write. He’s got family. He’s got job. He’s got (a very cool) wife. He’s even got dog . . . Yet last night he got home from work not long before midnight and arose at 5:30 this morning to tackle the page.

Last year he wasn’t a writer. This year he’ll be finishing up his second book.

Harvard researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler speak of the 3 Degrees of Influence in their book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — there’s more to this title if you can believe it, but I’m worn out; you’ll have to click on the link for the rest.

They’re riffing off the 6 Degrees of Separation concept Stanley Milgram popularized in the 1960s with his social connection experiments. (The 6 Degrees of Separation refers to how a person is separated on average by only six connections to any other person.) 

The 3 Degrees of Influence defines how far influence spreads out from one person (on average). Bill Clinton’s goes farther. Mine does not.

The 1st Degree of Influence is direct, it’s to those you know. Friends, family, co-workers, those with whom you have direct relationships.

The 2nd Degree of Influence is once removed. For example, a friend of a friend. You suggest a technique inspired by the Kama Sutra to a friend who suggests it to their friend. Naughty naughty.

The 3rd Degree of Influence goes one step further. You start saying, Hey Hey Hey when you greet your sister on the phone. She adopts it from time to time with her Mom Group. One of those Moms catches the bug and starts using it — then her friend at work picks up on it. 

Now dozens of people you don’t even know can be annoyed by this habit, not just your family.

This 3 Degrees of Influence is as true for bad jokes and good hairstyles as it is for violence and indie films and grievous errors in fashion judgment. 

Influence extends beyond those we know to ghostly others in an extended social network.

Back to F.J. Sands, the future of America. 

Why do I speak of him this way? 

Because that’s what propels us into a more compelling future. Both entrepreneurially and artistically. People who assert their imaginative selves into new projects. Books or businesses. People sparked to tackle something new despite the ongoingness of all the other things they juggle.

I’m fired up by F.J. Sands now. 

Let’s loop back to the 3 Degrees of Influence and see how I fit in. And maybe you as well.

F.J.’s wife’s friend fell in love with a successful writer living in the Florida Keys. When they were visiting his wife’s friend in her new digs F.J. looked around at the writer’s life and thought, Why not me too? 

He’d wanted to be a writer when he was younger but had fallen off the path. F.J. came back from the visit and wrote furiously, with humor and passion. (A thriller.) (I’ll link to it when it becomes available to the public.) 

The first book is with an editor now . . . and F.J. is tearing toward the finish of a second book. 

Now me. 

I’m not sure if I’m technically the 2nd or 3rd Degree of Influence in this chain. Regardless, I’m feeling F.J.’s intensity and it’s fueling my own race to finish a book. 

Here’s the title. Don’t read it aloud without taking a gulp of air first:

Bohemia in Suburbia: 
Oh the creativity and originality outside of urban centers (one guy found traversing America) (in an old van) (that had problems of its own).

Yeah, it’s a long dusty road of a subtitle, but what the hell. 

I’m guessing that someone else might pick up speed on their own writing project when they bump up against my enthusiasm. It could be here in the digital realm or it could be when I’m bouncing around in the three-dimensional world. And they’ll have a writer in Key West they know nothing about to thank.

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for occasional notes to your inbox on creativity, spirituality and whee.

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I just have to remember they go through an ugly phase