Unintended influence


We are influenced most by our 2nd or 3rd degree connections.

I grew up hearing stories of the past (almost 2 million people died in the 1945 famine and how my great Aunt took my mom and siblings in since she had a tea plantation etc… my Anne Frank version). Consequently, I strongly believe in Paying Forward (I wouldn’t have been born later in the South if it hadn’t been for  great Aunt Dieu, my vertical 2nd connection).

Taking that a notch further, we benefit greatly from the courage of the Wright brothers (who braced themselves for the Beta-test of those early airplanes) to the soon ubiquitous RFID technology (which reduces the costs of inventory and supply).

ARPANET gave us access to a vast amount of data on the Web. Storify and Spotify help us sort them .

I saw an ad yesterday which spanned from horse carriage, to internal combustion engine, to today’s hybrid Infinity.

Even failed technologies contributed to our collective repertoire. Or failed states and statesmen (women).

I read about the passing of Madame Nhu (Vietnam’s Imelda Marcos, minus the shoes collection).

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/world/asia/27nhu.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

She was on a PR/shopping trip on Rodeo Drive when her brother-in-law’s regime collapsed, rendering her stateless.

Her unintended influence was more in modernizing fashion than in abortion ban.

The Ao Dai (long dress) during her time came without the collar (her casual-Friday version). She must have taken a page book from Paris Match and Life  (Audrey Hepburn). This week, we won’t go anywhere without seeing those Spring dresses and hats, coming to us from London.

Ironically, as France banned the veil and head covers, Britain welcomes back the hats (might you the security camera angle. These society ladies don’t do ATM or violate stop lights.)

Back to our 2nd and 3rd degree influence.  What key words will land searchers on our page? Will future anthropologists – or Third Generation Viet-American, conduct digital forensics, the way they do in China upon discovering a 2,000 year-old Mummy, to find our “upload” an unintended influence?

I only know that small act of kindness to relatives and people in need, as happened once in my extended families, enabled our migration to south Vietnam (instead of being counted among the 2 million deaths). For my turn at unintended influence, I promise not to say things like “the monks are welcome to barbecue themselves” ( 1963 monk self-immolation to protest religious persecution).

It’s hard to earn a good byline these days. At least in one case, the NY congressman whose half-naked pic went viral, resigned immediately. Madame Nhu’s unintended influence, however, was to encourage Vietnamese women to “stick their necks out” during war-time. The same thing happened to American women during the two World Wars: replacing the men who left the factory for the front.

 

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