The absolute beginning of the biggest improvements in my adult life came when I started imagining not just what would be “good enough” but what would be “ideal”. Thing is, you can always scale back from the ideal, or work up to the ideal–but the act of thinking of the ideal at all can help (at least it helped me) remove some self-imposed barriers I had no idea even existed! I was “driving with the parking brake on” so to speak. And I think this is in some degree human nature, especially in “these trying economic times” etc. But let’s not limit ourselves… The key to this exercise is usually a phrase like “if __________________ were no object, then I would do this!” Then… after you’ve decided what “this” is, figure out why _______________ is an issue and work to either negate, lessen the impact of, or work around it completely. I find that most ______________’s are eventually totally negated with patience, persistence, stubbornness, and force of will. Long story short, a lack of _______________ is no reason to shortchange your dreams from the get-go.
Current mass media seems hellbent on teaching us to keep ourselves down, and it’s doing a disturbingly good job with most people. Very negative attitudes replicate themselves through social media, and even in an insidious way as our well-meaning friends online share article after article designed to incite viral linking though outrage and indignation. There’s information and then there’s clickbait. And well, clickbait is essentially the stuff of grocery check out line tabloids. It’s trash, it wastes time, clogs thinking, and most unfortunately in some weird way seems to crush dreams and hopes.
After one too many mornings checking a facebook feed and seeing tabloid-anger-bait article after tabloid-anger-bait article from people who I care a lot about, I started hiding posts from specific “viral” websites. Now, I still get the personal and fun posts from my friends without whatever goofy soul-crushing stuff that they’ve also shared. I am sure my next door neighbor also appreciates fewer instances of me saying, “OMG WHATEVER SHUT UP!!!” out loud at around 9AM every day (yes, that’s part of the reason I have acoustic foam in the office). What boggles my mind is all the specific “women’s” stuff that’s so backhanded and… CREATED by other women?!?!? No thanks! Stuff designed to make you feel guilty and/or helpless is usually created by people who are powerless and want more powerless friends to commiserate with–ignore that stuff! Inciting self-doubt is also a an effective method of selling mainstream consumer goods. So fight the power and go for the good stuff, the underground stuff, the optimal and the ideal. Create some of that good stuff yourself and educate others on how they can do it too! You are better than clickbait, we all are.
Our time is our most precious resource, time cannot be purchased and when it’s gone, it’s gone–no matter if you’re flat broke or a billionaire. Well spent time with family, friends, training, learning, reading, recovering, creating, sleeping, etc. is truly priceless. Let’s learn to respect our time, especially the next time we’re faced with the option to click on “Blah blah and what happened next will totally shock you!” The other important thing is to define what’s truly important to us in our lives–not what the media, or even our peers, etc tells us SHOULD be important. What drives you? What makes you continue and never give up? My life is driven by the need for adventure and freedom (with minimal provocation I will do an embarrassingly goofy impression of Nicolas Cage’s character in Wild at Heart as he explains what his special jacket stands for….). Everyone is different, but figure out what your driver is. Whenever I’m faced with a question or dilemma I put it up next to the long goal, the driver–how will this bring about more adventure or greater freedom? Will it? Cool. It won’t? Oh well then no thanks. Decision making made easy.
The “slactivism” of the internet and social media seems to only drive a very limited amount of actual social change, and when it does, a scary group-think mob mentality is hard to ignore. As the internet seems to slide more and more towards being some kind of real-time tabloid reality tv, let’s make sure to vote with our clicks and turn back the tide. Think twice about what you support with your eyes, time and traffic. And as a good friend of mine says, we have the opportunity to bring beauty into the world. I challenge you to to stop forwarding clickbait, and start creating fun, joy, beauty, inspiration, good information etc. in your life and in your social media interactions.
“Curate” is a popular word right now, and it’s power became very evident recently. I’d gotten a nice deal at a hotel which provided the Wall Street Journal every morning (coincidence if you read the blog post from yesterday) and I noticed the nice lack of cruddy “clickbait” vying for my attention, and the lack of faux “feelgood” articles. The writing was good, the print nice to read… and at that moment I realized that I missed the tactile sensation of reading a printed newspaper. And as an act of rebellion, I am doing it more and more. For something to make it into some forms of physical print, there seems to be a much higher standard for the writing and overall approach. Call me a luddite, but I like this higher standard. The WSJ has curated what they thought would appeal to their audience. The same with any magazine or newspaper, and you can do the same with your activities and blog online.
The internet and our own realities in real life are created by us and by what we allow ourselves to be exposed to… let’s curate true inspiration (not the backhanded variety), fun, joy, helpful information, beauty in all its forms. Do you accept the responsibility to “curate” your own daily reality, even on the small scale of internet interactions? Ever since I have, I’ve been more productive, happier, and more able to help others. Let’s do this thing!!