Sunday, April 10, 2016

Accepting the Challenge

"That's the challenge," said Sugar Jones as she raised her drink.
When I was in high school, I considered joining the Air Force. "Aim High." It seemed to be a natural fit for my high tech interests. At school, one of my classmates began sporting a military style crewcut – he'd signed up to join the Army after graduation. Shortly after that, I saw a Marine Corps recruiting ad in a magazine. The only thing I knew about the Marines was that they had, inarguably, the toughest and longest boot camp training in any of the Armed Forces. I asked my father, who had served in the Army, "Why would someone join the Marines?"

"Some men want a challenge," he said.

Some men want a challenge... that resonated with me, which I've written about in Six Four One. As a kid, it resonated like, "You did a good thing for a bad man," from a Bronx Tale. Since then, I've loved the challenge of boot camp, plebe year, OCS, jump school, and overseas deployments. Now, in my more seasoned years, I find myself seeking more conveniences and complaints than challenges and commendations. Every so often I need a refresher.

A couple weeks ago, Sugar Jones and I were discussing Instagram. Instagram has been around since 2010. In 2012, with only 13 employees, it was purchased by Facebook for about $1B. It's only grown in popularity since then. Instagram's key differentiator was two fold. It was simple to post and photographers could apply filters. Since cameras on smartphones, back then, weren't as good as today, applying a filter helped distract from the graininess by adding an artistic spin.

I told Sugar that I didn't like Instagram. Sugar responded with a small look of silent disbelief. "I prefer Flickr," I said, explaining that I was begrudgingly moving to Instagram.

"Why don't you like Instagram?" asked Sugar.

"Every photo has to be square," I said with disdain. I pompously believed that the artist should choose the aspect ratio.

"That's the challenge," said Sugar.

That's the challenge... Ah-ha! Those three words, which she so profoundly said, instantly sunk in.

One hundred and forty characters is the challenge of Twitter; that's what makes Twitter unique and the haiku of a new millennium. How could I have missed a similar challenge with Instagram?

To hijack and repurpose from Breaking Bad...
When I heard the learn'd Sugar.

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