Our Digital Age

General appeal is so over

One of our primal instincts is to be seen, heard, and accepted by the tribe. Tribe acceptance equates more safety and more resources.

The de-centralized tribe today

Today, our tribe can be scattered across the globe, in person or virtually, with people who share our core beliefs but have never shared a meal with us. Our globalized, inter-connected lives confuse that instinct, and can cause us to seek general, mass appeal. Acceptance from everyone.

Actually, tribe members focus just on their immediate tribe. They don't worry about far-off tribes full of strangers.

There might not be such a thing as general appeal anymore. Each of us contains multitudes and can be part of many distinct, separate tribes or communities around the world.

Not everyone needs to love your work; not everyone even needs to like it. In fact, that just won't happen. But there will be quite a few people who do, who get what you're trying to put out into the world. Those are the people that matter.

Work for those people, and trust that everyone else will be served by someone else's work.

Ugh, "personal branding"

"My name is Oprah. I built a crazy powerful empire around female empowerment. I do it every day. You can count on it."

"My name is Oprah. I built a crazy powerful empire around female empowerment. I do it every day. You can count on it."

Most people don't like that phrase. I want nothing to do with it. The ideas "branding" and "marketing" can be hard to stomach when it comes to one's self. We're also barraged with branding and marketing for objects all day long. "Personal branding" pointedly hints at the idea of objectifying one's self.

It's dangerous that we're using this phrase; the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater.

It should be called "consistent creativity".

If you're reading this blog, you're probably inundated and overloaded with information on a daily basis, online and IRL. It's a lot for our brains to process, much less store properly and recall when needed.

On a basic level, humans want to be remembered. Refer to tombstones, having children, andmemento mori for further proof.

We also want to remember as much as possible. Refer to written language, the invention of photography, and archives for further proof.

The average person is experiencing major information overload. Being memorable and remarkable is more critical than ever. Luckily, there's a simple, sure-fire way to get people to remember your work and what you do:

  1. Be consistent: Work hard to be able to say this "My name is __. I do ___. I do it every day. You can count on it. You can find me here, here, and here."
  2. Be concise: Ain't nobody got time for watered-down, verbose excess.
  3. Be confident: Confidence comes from time spent doing what you do and getting intimate with it, to the point where you can point out colors and textures of truth in your field that few people can see.

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Be a placenta face mask

placenta mask.jpg

My most memorable roommate is an incredible woman named Anka. She is in her 60s but possesses a vibrancy of someone a sliver of her age. 

Why is she memorable? She's crystal clear on who she is, how she lives, what she likes, and what she dislikes. She unapologetically demands what she wants from life. Because she takes a stand, others adjust their stance to her needs.

She has no interest in being normal, and for that reason she's remarkable. Nay, she's unforgettable.

Anka is the reason I stopped apologizing for the way I am.

In the grand scheme of things, we want to be remembered.

Our physical and digital lives are hectic; it's harder to remember things than ever, because we have more to remember than ever. We're evolutionarily wired to want to "fit in" with others, to be accepted as "like them". The problem? The human brain doesn't remember "like them". It remembers purple cows, dangerously unqualified candidates for president, skincare made out of pig placentas, and people like Anka.

You guys, boldly ignore the urge to blend in. The part of your brain responsible for manufacturing that urge is clueless about how life works in the digital age. It hasn't evolved to catch up with our current world: a world that forgets you unless you're unique.

If you want your work to be seen, do it in the way only you can.

Break free of the countdown

I want to share a mindless moment with you. 

Last week, I was chatting with someone and I said "Happy Friday". Thankfully, my interlocutor had the presence of mind and curiosity to ask, "Do you really still think in terms of the weekend, given what you do?"

I don't. In fact, a big part of my work is helping people move through and beyond "living for the weekend". Yet there I was, reinforcing the basic idea of living for the weekend. Pretty embarrassing.

The 40 hour work week and the weekend were big steps forward for usโ€”in the Industrial Age. They are 2 ideas that stickily persist, even though we've been in our post-Industrial Digital Age for some time now. 

Why?

  1. They're hangovers from our 12+ years in our education system, which was designed to churn out obedient, punctual factory-workers (remember how much you looked forward to Friday in grade school?)
  2. They're spread far and wide via our language and media.

As for the first piece, education is going to take a while to flip and update. You know this: Big systems take massive amounts of time, emotional drive, effort, and political will to change. It'd be awesome if you play whatever part you can, whenever you can, to improve education. 

The second piece, though? You and I both have 100% power over the things we say and media we choose to take in. 

Let's all stop with this "Happy Friday" thing. While we're at it, take out "Hump Day" too.

Let's stop thinking freedom starts on a certain day of the week. Every day, you're free to consider whether the work you're doing matters. You're free to consider whether you're operating at or near your highest ability. 

So, are you?