In Part 1 of our interview, Richard Hatch and I talked about both incarnations of Battlestar: Galactica. In Part 2, we took a closer look at Tom Zarek. Today, we talk about the Internet, online dating, and the new projects that Richard’s got cooking.
J: You’re somebody who teaches seminars and classes on how to communicate more effectively in person. How do you feel about using the Internet to facilitate relationships?
Richard Hatch: Well, number one, I think we’ve barely touched the potentials of the Internet. I think it’s a force that can be used for good or bad, but the Internet is connecting all of us; in a sense we’re becoming, “all for one, one for all.” Through people’s blogs, we’re all stepping into each other’s lives, and being able to see what they go through in a day.
We’re coming together; we’re really in a process of integration, and I think it’s a powerful tool. If anything, our problem has been that we’ve been too separate, too disconnected from each other, viewing the world from our own little limited viewing landscape, our own particular set of glasses. Now it’s kind of hard to look at the world through too narrow of a view, because everywhere you look, you’re being forced to look through the eyes of other people, to see their perspective.
I think it’s a powerful tool for bringing people together, which is why I’m involved in [creating] my social network, [which is] also a network like a sci-fi network for programming. I want a place where people who love sci-fi, fantasy, or whatever else can connect, can hang out, can exchange ideas creatively, upload new story ideas, and basically have a community. And then, ultimately, have programming for new shows.
There’s a lot of people out there now that realize, “Oh my God! I’ve got an idea for a story and I can actually go out and film it!” And there’s no reason you can’t have all that online. And part of connecting, which is what all these social networks are, like Facebook and Twitter and everything else, is that through hanging out, getting to know people, sharing thoughts, ideas, you can possibly find the love of your life or find deeper connections with people.
I think it’s the best thing that ever happened. I mean, we live in diverse parts of the world, and our lives make us drive down the same freeway every day for work. And yet, two streets over, there could be the potential love of your life, or best friend of your life, or business partner. It’s waiting to happen, but you’d never know they were there, until you got the internet.
Now the internet kind of opens up that territory, and now you’re able to be part of the larger picture, you’re able to have a stronger connection to your community or to the world – and the community, in this regard, is the world now. You could find the love of your life in China, your business partner in Lithuania – we’re not being facetious anymore. You can visit online, connect online, and then, if you find enough in common, you can move somewhere and join up.
J: Geek’s Dream Girl focuses mainly on the Internet side of finding people, making a first impression online, but eventually people will meet, face-to-face. What is your #1 tip for someone in that situation?
Richard: Well, the first step is that you have an email connection. Then, you might start to instant message, and if you enjoy the conversation, eventually you move to a phone where you hear each other’s voice. If, at that point, you’ve really established a connection, a level of commonality, you drive to a coffee shop. That way, you come in, and you’re not stuck if you don’t like the person; you can have a cup of coffee, and in a few minutes you’re on your way. You’re not stuck in the same car, on a date.
You know, everything is just one step. Life is just a series of small steps. I think the best thing about the internet is that you can take small steps to get to know somebody. And with the technology today, this is going to expand; you’ll be able to video emails, you can see each other, talk to each other, experience each other multiple ways online long before you ever meet in person.
And I think I like that, because I would like to actually, at some point, see [more than a picture] before I go to meet them for coffee. People do have a tendency, with their pictures, to put up pictures that don’t really reflect who they are. And the mental connection is one thing, the emotional connection is a another thing, there’s that undefinable connection… But you know, what somebody looks like is part of the equation.
So some people use the anonymity of the internet to kind of perpetrate a fantasy of themselves. And then when the day comes to meet the person, there’s sheer terror at that fact that now, the truth is going to be revealed: that you’re not six-foot-six, you’re four-foot-four with four ears and two noses.
The hard part is getting people not to lie, and not to fabricate, not to build a fantasy of what they would like to be. Unless they just want to live in a digital environment, and essentially play that fantasy, which, you know, why not? If you want to go into a virtual reality, like World of Warcraft, but in this case you can create a whole world that was based on love and relationships – you could have an online community where you could create your own character and have other people, and hang out, get to know, date, get married whatever, just in a virtual environment… There’s nothing wrong with that.
But, you know, I would hope that all these steps could be steps leading towards a deeper connection with somebody, and not just into a fantasy world. [A fantasy world] is absolutely wonderful and can be a way to explore your life, the world, all kinds of fantasies you might have… I think all that could be positive. But ultimately, to complete the equation, I think there needs to be a physical connection.
So working towards that, that’s where mentoring, and coaching, can come in; to help people overcome their shyness and their fears of rejection and to slowly find the courage to be more honest, and present themselves as they are. In all my workshops around the country, I teach people to learn to love themselves for all their flaws and imperfections, and [teach that] you don’t have to be perfect to be lovable – all these things that are common sense.
Unfortunately, though, we live in a world where we don’t get the foundations from our families, ’cause they’re too busy, they’re too stressed, they’re working too hard… Whatever the situation is, we don’t have these foundations for building self-worth, self-esteem. And then you get caught up in your swag, your rep, trying to be cool, which is a big thing right now among kids.
It’s really tragic, in a way, when you realize that what’s really important in life has been squashed, pushed aside for some of the more superficial things. But, you know, the pendulum swings one way, and ultimately it swings back. It’s all a process.
J: One of the potentials of the Internet is that with the range of everyone in the world, you can potentially find someone and don’t have to create a fantasy. You can never form those connections if you’re not honest, though.
Richard: Some people are never honest, even with themselves. Because they don’t like themselves, they don’t feel attractive. Even attractive people don’t feel attractive, because that’s their relationship with themselves, based on growing up in a dysfunctional family or God knows what. And most people don’t feel comfortable enough to seek help, to go to get into a support group or some kind of counseling. I don’t know anybody that couldn’t benefit, become a more successful or happier person, from getting the right kind of counseling, and coaching, mentoring and support.
I mean, athletes don’t achieve their greatest results alone. They need a great coach to take those extra couple of steps. We all need help, and most people are embarrassed to ask; they don’t have the proper foundation, the understanding, to ask for help – it’s not even in their vocabulary.
So that’s part of why I work with SoulGeek, and teach workshops all over the country; I also teach Tony Robbins life camps, and I teach people to get up and speak in front of rooms. That’s always been a professional hobby of mine.
Communication is what the world’s all about, honestly. It’s why we go to war. It’s all about miscommunication, really, because very rarely do we ever truly communicate in an honest, clear way; we’re always being misunderstood, misread. I love inspiring people, and I’ve had to walk a very challenging walk in my life, at least up until recently, and I share the wisdom that I learned the hard way, about men, women, and communication.
J: You’re working on a few other projects with SoulGeek, right?
Richard: I’m doing a reality show, called Who the Frak, that goes into Hollywood: the acting, performing, the entertainment industry, the underbelly that most people have never seen. It also shows a number of my friends that includes all ages – they’re all trying to make it in this business, they all have a journey that they’re on, and they’re all fighting the good fight, having to deal with all their fears and insecurities and dysfunctions.
I like shows that get into the meat and heart of what life is, who we are as human beings, but also shows insights, epiphanies, light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not one for dark endings that make you feel like cutting your throat when you walk out of the movie theater. I’m not looking for a goodie-two-shoes movie either, but a movie that really takes me on a journey, shakes me up, makes me laugh, makes me cry, but leaves me with hope.
In my workshops, my thought is, we don’t have enough hope in this world. Too many people are disconnected, are depressed, are lost in some form of abyss. SoulGeek is great because it brings together some interesting, intelligent, creative people, who in many ways feel disenfranchised, because of what they love.
People that are not into sci-fi/fantasy, many of them don’t get it, that it’s not just a story that people like, or a character, it’s a whole other something deeper, that maybe you can’t quite explain, but something about great sci-fi, great fantasy, touches us in a very deep way.
J: There’s also sort of a mystique about sci-fi – it seems to be hard for people to get into it. When shows like Battlestar or even Heroes come out and become popular, I feel like saying, this is what we’ve been trying to tell you about, and there’s much more out there!
Richard: I totally agree, but you know, many people out there are driven by fear. They’re afraid of the outside world, they’re afraid of anything different, so a UFO or even the thought that there could be life somewhere else, any way of stepping out of the box – they’re programmed, whether by religion or philosophy, they’re terrified of anything that shakes up their world view. It’s just a fear of the unknown, and there’s a lot of people like that.
I just find that sci-fi people tend to be far more philosophical, far more open-minded, far more creative, and I hate to say it, far more fun to hang out with.
J: I know you’ve been working with SoulGeek, but I haven’t been able to find much information about the sci-fi social network.
Richard: Basically, we were going to expand SoulGeek into a social community, but then, because of economics and because of where Dino is, he wanted to stay focused on the dating aspects of SoulGeek, and at some later portion we could talk about expanding it into something else.
But my greater focus is creating social online networks because communities are becoming the way for all of us to connect to people of like mind. I’ve always been more focused on the community aspects of it, because for me, I think I meet more people, more interesting people and have more opportunities for connections on facebook than I do on match.com. Because out of meeting people and talking to people, you find connections you never dreamed of; you might not even be looking and someone [else] is not actively looking, and then you find a connection and talk to each other on the phone, and all of a sudden you realize you’re attracted.
J: And it might not be something that you’d list on a profile about yourself.
Richard: Exactly! But at the same time, dating sites do serve a purpose, and they do focus that more small dedicated group of people, people who are actively seeking a partner in a more direct way. And that’s fine, and that’s necessary, and they can be very positive.
That’s why I’m working with SoulGeek, because I like them, and I like what they do, with these gatherings where I can talk to people and share what I’ve been through, all the insights that I’ve learned about relationships, dating, communication. Plus I’m really good about helping people overcome fear and insecurities because I dealt with it so much in life.
But I love all that and I’m busy creating an online network, online sci-fi/fantasy world. And we’ve gotten a whole bunch of network titles and some things we may use… we’ve been thinking what would be the best way to call this world, you know? We’re basically laying out the architecture, talking to companies that have all the widgets and all the, everything that they are capable of doing all this. Plus, [we're] dealing with live videocasting and live conferencing, for doing online sci-fi conventions… We’re working really hard on putting all of those elements together.
J: One of the things I liked about this idea was that networks are always so cautious about taking on a sci-fi show, but here there would already be demonstrable interest, a built-in fanbase.
Yeah, that’s why I want create an online network. I want to create a place where people can upload shows, where they can share ideas, do things very inexpensively, and find an audience. And if the audience finds them, you let the size of the audience determine, in terms of budget - For a small audience you can keep it at a small budget and produce episodes for that group of people who love that show. If more people love that show and are willing to maybe pay five or ten bucks you can actually do it on a higher and higher level.
And it can grow with the success, as opposed to the network model where you take a lot of money, throw it on the wall, and if it doesn’t stick you move on to the next trainwreck. Without enough time for the audience to even find the show, many shows go down. Now, on the online version, we would be able to leave shows on much longer. Star Trek was successful because in the early infancy of syndication, they didn’t have a lot of products and they left Star Trek on even though the audience wasn’t big at the beginning. But it was on long enough for the audience to find it, and it became a big network success -we’re talking about when it was brought back.
I want to create a new model because the network model does not serve niche markets, and the niche market is a powerful market. And in this day and age, you want to serve the niche market. In the interest of serving everybody, you end up serving nobody. And honestly, people deserve to get what they love! There’s too many sci-fi and fantasy stories that never get told, either because they felt there’s not enough audience for it, the network executive doesn’t get it… You know when you’re serving a niche audience, that niche audience can financially support, creating products that networks would never do.
J: And when you have the freedom to create more product, you create better product.
Richard: Exactly right. You can also have more direct contact with your audience. You can serve them more effectively because you can gather feedback; you can tweak your ideas and you can shape and sculpt what you’re working on to serve the community in a more effective way. One of the reasons I want to create an online community is because sci-fi/fantasy borrows on the tail end of every other community, but there’s no home for us. I want to be part of creating a home, for this genre that I love so much.
Many thanks to Richard for taking the time to have a great conversation. And thanks to Dino Andrade from SoulGeek for thinking of us at GDG!