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Thoughts on "The Invisible Fence"

Level 17

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On April 4, Seth Godin -- the writer I aspire to be like -- wrote, "The Invisible Fence" (Seth's Blog: The invisible fence ). In his usual eloquent yet terse style, he said:

"There are very few fences that can stop a determined person (or dog, for that matter).

Most of the time, the fence is merely a visual reminder that we're rewarded for complying.

If you care enough, ignore the fence. It's mostly in your head."

It caught my eye because once upon a time I looked into getting an Invisible Fence for my dog, pictured above. Also pictured above is my son, and to say the two were thick as thieves is an understatement. Aside from when he was at school, they went everywhere together. The boy thought the dog was his responsibility, at least that's what we'd told him. But our dog knew better. The boy was her human, a responsibility she took very seriously.

Which is why the Invisible Fence rep stood in my driveway, looked over at the dog and her human, and told me not to bother. "Dog's like that," he informed me. "they guard their flock no matter what. If she hears him and decides she needs to be there, a 10-foot brick wall won't stop her, let alone a shock collar, no matter how high you turn it up. What it will do, though, is make her think twice about coming back."

Years later, with the dog laid to rest and her human almost grown, that comment has stuck with me.

How often, I'm left wondering, do we build fences?

Fences around our work.

Fences around our teams.

Fences around our interactions.

Fences around our relationships.

Fences around our heart.

Fences, which, as Seth writes, are mostly in our head.

And, like the salesman told me that day, fences that do nothing to keep others locked inside artificial boundaries, but do an amazing job of keeping them from coming back once they are free.

19 Comments
tallyrich
Level 15

Very interesting perspective. I know the whole concept of fences is something that I need to keep in the forefront of my thinking. It seems those fences that we erect in our minds go up easily and quickly and only come down when we are very intentional about removing them.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

Our invisible fence works great for all the dogs we've had come and go. It is true if the dog is determined they will just run right trough the fence... but they don't like that shock.

tinmann0715
Level 16

The old saying, "Good fences make good neighbors", is true. Fences allows for boundaries to be defined. But much like the"Invisible Fence" they are not designed to be impenetrable. Gates are commonplace. :-)

bobmarley
Level 15

Very nice article and very true.

As far as dogs and invisible fences go, I have one dog that it works for and the other one walks right through it.  

shuckyshark
Level 13

i'm left wondering about fences that are there, but we don't realize they're there...invisible or not.

Jfrazier
Level 18

adatole​, very nice...poignant and yet covers the gamut of experiences.

I had to sit back and think about it on many levels...seeing fences that I didn't realize were there.

gfsutherland
Level 14

wow... really great insight here adatole​ !!!

Fences define an area and yet protect it at the same time.

Boundaries are limits, limits have a purpose at times. In an age where boundaries are crossed frequently they are thought to have no purpose....

(awesome photo!!!)

vinay.by
Level 16

This is seriously awesome adatole​ , wonderful article

network_defender
Level 14

Most fences are psychological in nature.  The can represent boundaries or confinement.  It all depends on your perspective.

cjfranca
Level 15

Very cool.

mprobus
Level 13

Nothing really to add of value.  Just enjoyed the article.

rschroeder
Level 21

So why do we have invisible fences surrounding our areas of expertise (a.k.a.: "silos")? 

I suppose if we leave and find a place without those fences we'll stay there instead of returning.

adatole​:

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goodzhere
Level 14

You know, I tend to agree with your perspective.  I tend to think that if you try to hard to keep someone in, and never let them experience "outside", then they are bound to rebel and may not ever come back.  If someone wants to stay, they will stay.  If they really want to leave, and you are making them stay, they will find a way to eventually get out.  This tends to work with all things.  Relationships, children, life in general!  I also believe it works the other way too.  If we always keep people out, if they really want to find a way in, they will.  You can't ever keep everyone out.  It is always only a matter of time.  Just look at our world of technology.  We do everything to secure and encrypt everything, yet given time, there will ALWAYS be a breach or a new encryption method getting cracked.  Supposedly AES-256 has been broken.  At least there is a claim out there, but not yet fully verified.  Even if it is not verified, we sure aren't far away from seeing it. 

What you are keeping in, will get out and what you are keeping out, will get in!  Time is the only factor!

silverwolf
Level 10

Very interesting topic adatole

"How often, I'm left wondering, do we build fences?" Too often. More times then the individual is probably even aware of.

I think by nature every human has some sort of fence.

Not all fences are bad, but not all are good either. It can be healthy to have certain boundaries, and sometimes not so healthy, it all depends on the situation.

Some are invisible -a mental fence that someone places without making it clear to others.

Some clearly visible -clear and concise boundaries set between the person and their friends/family

While others have airtight fences -with no chance of anything getting through.

Others have small fences -easy to approach and climb over.

Some to keep others out, others to keep them in -emotional attachments, memories shared, hurt feelings being nurtured behind fences.

Fences built due to others actions, and some due to the individual themselves.

Each and everyone drawing from different life experiences, emotions and memories which make up that person.

Some manage to live their life without any fences, which might be just as hard to do as well.

There will always be fences, it's inevitable. It's a coping mechanism in most cases, a desire to protect, to nurture, to keep safe...

The important part to always remember, in my opinion, is to recognize it and make a decision. Get rid of the fence? Or find a way around it?

If there is a fence, invisible or visible, no matter what form or shape... why is it there?

Is it really needed?

If it's not really needed:

If it's someone else's fence, throw them a rope from the other side, help them over it. [Don't actually throw a bunch of rope at someone... that may not end well, and may be seen as weird].

If it's your own, and you don't need it, go grab that ladder and climb on over it.

I'm not much of a climber myself (I have a fear of heights), but I keep trying whenever I realize there's a fence that doesn't need to be there.

Happy Climbing everyone.

tinmann0715
Level 16

An analogy that was initially lost on me was the pain possibly suffered when crossing over that fence. And the anticipated pain to be experienced when trying to cross back. It can be enough to prevent someone from returning...

mtgilmore1
Level 13

Wow -- nice article.  I so agree about fences, are we keeping our team in and reducing free thinking?

michael.kent
Level 13

Thanks for this, really made me think.

byrona
Level 21

I think a fence (proverbial or physical) is a double edge sword as it always ultimately ends up serving two purposes regardless if that is the intent or not; it servers to both keep people out and keep people (or dogs) in. 

d09h
Level 16

The concept of invisible fences immediately made me think of Apple, and then Microsoft.  Whether it it Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, LEDE, DD-WRT, there are so many options to the fenced in ecosystem.  Sadly, the non-IT folks and the non-curious IT folks sometimes never discover these escapes from the fences they are accustomed to.

About the Author
In my sordid career, I have been an actor, bug exterminator and wild-animal remover (nothing crazy like pumas or wildebeasts. Just skunks and raccoons.), electrician, carpenter, stage-combat instructor, American Sign Language interpreter, and Sunday school teacher. Oh, and I work with computers. Since 1989 (when you got a free copy of Windows 286 on twelve 5¼” floppies when you bought a copy of Excel 1.0) I have worked as a classroom instructor, courseware designer, desktop support tech, server support engineer, and software distribution expert. Then about 14 years ago I got involved with systems monitoring. I've worked with a wide range of tools: Tivoli, Nagios, Patrol, ZenOss, OpenView, SiteScope, and of course SolarWinds. I've designed solutions for companies that were extremely modest (~10 systems) to those that were mind-bogglingly large (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). During that time, I've had to chance to learn about monitoring all types of systems – routers, switches, load-balancers, and SAN fabric as well as windows, linux, and unix servers running on physical and virtual platforms.