The world wide web

The world wide web

It's a typical Wednesday evening and you're about to go meet a friend for dinner.

You don't bother taking your coat as the evening seems to be giving you a preview of the coming summer.

You lock your front door behind you and head for the car. The poor thing still bears the marks of a recent road trip. The wheels are black with brake dust and the panels all coated in a think layer of dust that seems to spill out from the front wheel arches.

As you go to open the door you notice a spider web connecting your driver side wing mirror to the window frame. Without thinking you slice through it with your index finger, compromising the structure of the entire web. It flops down over the mirror, limp and lifeless.

You sit into the car, stick on the radio a set out on your way.

Twenty minutes in and you’ve hit the halfway point in pretty good time. The roads are relatively clear and the traffic lights have been generous.

In front of you is a car that is traveling just slow enough to be frustrating and behind, in the adjacent lane, is another car ready to overtake you both.

You watch in your wing mirror as the car approaches and brace yourself for your own overtaking maneuver, once they have completed theirs.

The time to overtake arrives after a couple of seconds, but as you click your indicator into position something happens.

A fly appears out of nowhere, its timing coinciding perfectly with a deep breath you are about to take.

The tiny insect is sucked into your mouth and makes its way halfway down your throat before your body reacts.

You cough and splutter, which costs you your attention for a brief moment. During that half second or so you drift into the adjacent lane, increase your speed, and make significant ground on the car in front.

The rest is a blur as your car strikes a glancing blow to the one in front, spins out and wraps itself around a nearby lamppost...

Alternate history

It's a typical Wednesday evening and you're about to go meet a friend for dinner.

You don't bother taking your coat as the evening is seems to be giving you a preview of the coming summer.

You lock your front door behind you and head for the car. The poor thing still bears the marks of a recent road trip. The wheels are black with brake dust and the panels all coated in a think layer of dust that seems to spill out from the front wheel arches.

As you go to open the door you notice a spider web connecting your driver side wing mirror to the window frame. You pause for a second and make a mental note to visit the local car wash as soon as you get a chance.

You sit into the car, close the door behind you and stick the radio on. Out of the corner of your eye you notice something moving. It's a tiny black lump vibrating back and forth in the web. The spider has caught itself a fly.

It seems you’re not the only one about to go to dinner...

What does it all mean

I often wonder what the knock on effects of the millions of innocuous little decisions I make every day are.

What if pausing in the kitchen to eat a slice of toast despite the fact that I'm not really hungry saved my life because if I hadn't done that I would have left the house a few seconds earlier and gotten in some sort of accident?

Thinking about this is interesting because it really highlights the complexity of life. How every little thing we do is connected to everything that everyone else does. We’re all linked through millions of tenuous strands of a global web.

It also highlights that your actions, no matter how small, can have an impact. They won't always, but they can. One way we can have an impact is through influence.

Consider a person doing something rude or thoughtless, which in turn affects the mood of someone else, which in turn means they make decisions influenced by that negativity for the rest of their day. This is a huge ripple and can spread at an amazing pace and on a global scale.

Just being alive is pretty amazing then you consider the unthinkable amount of alternate paths you could have taken based on billions of little decisions, many of which are subconscious.

It’s also worth thinking about this the next time you dwell on a decision you’ve made. The alternative path may not have been all that much better...

On Brexit

On Brexit

What would the world be like if...

What would the world be like if...