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Are You a Pioneer? [Philosophical Monday]

This BBC News article about astronomers identifying 54 potentially habitable planets got me to thinking, and what I ended up concluding was this: I’m not a pioneer.

I won’t be in the first wave of people that travel to these new planets. I’ll never be the first person to test out a totally new technology. The only reason I tend to early adopt technology is because both my husband and my BFF are early adopters, and they either gift me or convince me into giving new technology a try. People will probably never say, “Oh, Ernessa T. Carter was the first person to write about…” In fact, before I came out with my own debut novel, I very rarely read authors without a track record — still don’t, really, but I’m getting way better.

Still, I’m okay with that. I’m what the Seth Godin’s of the world would call a sneezer. I give new things the nod after the early adopters have adopted them. I love reading that book that everybody’s buzzing about or seeing that movie that has amazing word of mouth. I just read A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD — Jennifer Egan’s third novel, not b/c I read the product description and thought it sounded good, but b/c two friends suggested it to me and because it won the Pulitzer right after they suggested it to me. I didn’t actually have any idea what it was about when I downloaded it, but unlike my early adopter friends, I’ll be spreading Egan virus much farther, because not only will I be doing a book report this Thursday, which will be read by hundreds, but I’ll also be talking about the book with everyone I know, at every brunch or event I attend. Basically, I’m not patient zero, but man, I don’t cover my mouth when I sneeze.

Of course this all got me to wondering about the people who are pioneers. Who are these people who buy the first generation iPod and die in droves trying to get from the East Coast to the West in a covered wagon and who walk across ice bridges to the Americas and who volunteer to be among the first families to settle a new planet? So many pioneers die or lose everything. That’s kind of what we don’t talk about when we’re waxing nostalgic about the the first U.S. astronauts — quite a few of which died in training mission fires and crashes before we ever reached the moon. So what makes people pioneer?

If you’re  a pioneer, could you tell us what’s behind your pioneering spirit? If you’re a sneezer like me, let us know why your prefer that role. And if you’re a late adopter, tell us what makes you so reluctant to catch the latest virus after people me have started sneezing everywhere. Represent your clique in the comments!