What's now. What's next.

It used to be so easy to be interesting.

by Nextness published December 10, 2012 posted in Insights

First, you’d watch TED Talks. So cross-disciplinary!

Johnny Lee shows Wii Remote hacks for educators (2008). Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (2006). Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius (2009). Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation (2009).

Then you’d listen to Radiolab. Science! And storytelling. A touch of This American Life, for emotion! And storytelling.

Then you’d read Jonah Lehrer’s blog Frontal Cortex, and see how human behaviour could be explained by neuroscience.

A little bit of daring piracy opened up American TV to you long before the laggard Australian networks got round to showing the best shows.

Tumblr helped you find art and photos of old stuff, and to get conversant with cool literature (quotes from it at least).

And as for memes…! It felt so nice to be among the first people to get the joke, any joke. So that when friends from school or your aunties posted a macro to Facebook you’d think, “Ew. That’s months old.” And pity them.

Workwise, instead of reading the ad trade rags, you’d follow ad blogs, cooler and quicker on the uptake in spotting great work.

You’d go to Cannes and think “this stuff was all on the internet a year ago.” (Or was that just us? Sorry Cannes.)

You follow @brainpicker, or at least trust that her best stuff will be RTed into your stream.

And what’s the problem?

The problem is everyone’s doing it! We’re all the same. And so it’s not interesting any more!

Well, that’s what it feels like nearing the end of a long year.

As You Look Nice Today‘s Scott Simpson recently wrote for The Magazine,

You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops. You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst… Pixar. Kitty cats. Uniqlo. Bourbon. Steel-cut oats. Comic books. Obama. Fancy burgers. You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals… You are boring. So, so boring.

What would happen if we stopped listening to the same five podcasts and reading the same seven blogs as our friends?

Would it impact our work? (Would our ideas be more fresh, or less?)

Would it impact our friendships? (Do we need a baseline knowledge of the same exact stuff to be able to connect?)

Would we still be able to imagine the future and what’s next without other people’s prognostications to help us?

Scott Simpson recommends some ways to be less boring.

  • When talking to someone, “give a conversation some air. Really listen. Ask questions…”
  • Consider why you’re sharing something to your networks. “Why are you adding that link to Facebook? Will it be valuable to the many people who will see it? Or are you just flashing a Prius-shaped gang sign to your pals? If it’s the latter, keep it to yourself.”
  • Instead of instagramming your lunch or doing a boring status update, “could you find a better way to communicate your experience?” Focus on proper storytelling and “give us a reason to care.”
  • “As you widen your social circle, work on your intellectual one as well. Expose yourself to new writers. Hit the Random Article button on Wikipedia. Investigate the bromides your friends chuck around Twitter like frisbees.”

Here at Nextness, we are too reticent to actually call you boring to your face.

Especially as we read all those blogs and listen to all those podcasts you do too! (And love them! And make it our life’s work to curate the best of them for you!)

But our resolution for next year is to consume more consciously. To share more consciously. To go a little bit deeper; be a little bit more off the beaten track.

To not just produce “content” for contents’ sake. (After all, buckling under that pressure was what got Jonah Lehrer in trouble.)

And to unsubscribe from TED Talks.


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