David Patrick Columbia
Founder, The New York Social Diary
02:45

Who are we?

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America's "can-do" attitude.

David Patrick Columbia

David Patrick Columbia is the founder and editor of New York Social Diary, a website that chronicles the lives of the Big Apple’s elite. Since graduating from Colby College in 1962, Columbia has led numerous lives: he's been a stockbroker, an owner of a head shop in upstate New York, a sportswear designer, a freelancer (he wrote a firsthand account of one of Truman Capote's "lost weekends"), and a scriptwriter for a courtroom television show. In 1988, Columbia finally found his calling when he collaborated with Debbie Reynolds on her autobiography. In 1994, Columbia began writing the New York Social Diary for Quest Magazine (a condensed version of the website is still printed in Quest every month). The New York Social Diary website was launched in September, 2000. Columbia has since become something of social fixture himself: he's been the subject of articles and blog posts in New York Magazine, Gawker, and the New York Observer.
Transcript

Question: What forces have shaped humanity most?

 

David Patrick Columbia: God. Geez. Oh sun and the moon for one. What’s going on now in our civilization because of what we call technology is definitely shaping the way we think and the way we approach things. And because of technology – which is visibly miraculous versus those things that are not visible which are miraculous – these are definitely shaping the way we approach things. As I told you I was just over in Abu Dhabi which only 25 years ago was completely an arid desert with nothing growing. And now there is a whole civilization there that almost looks like Manhattan and operates like Manhattan. And this is all the result of technological innovation. And this is actually allowing people to think that anything is possible. And while I do think anything is possible when we are dependent on, say, energy sources like fossil fuels which are not infinite, then anything under those circumstances is not possible; yet we tend to think of it that way. So that’s part of how our humanity has been shaped under these circumstances. And where that’s gonna go I don’t know.

Well I always think of Americans as having a “can-do” attitude about things. Part of that is that we live in a large continent that for a very, very long time – since the Europeans came here and basically moved in on the natives and took it away from them – we have taken this attitude . . . There’s been so much abundance of everything – of water, of all kinds of natural resources – that we’ve come to believe that we can absolutely do anything we want or anything we think of because of that. And part of that probably is the same as if a person is born into tremendous wealth. They tend to think they can do and have anything they want without limitations. The wiser ones know that’s not true and the dumber ones don’t. And so we’re at a place right now in this country where we’re having to deal with something like that. And where that will take us I don’t know. But we’re still are a country of tremendous abundance.

 

Conducted on: October 29, 2007

 


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