Thursday, August 23, 2012

Did You Do Or Think Anything Today That Wasn't Media Inspired?

Suppose you had a blog post to write today.  Suppose further that you wanted to write about what was most important to you.  What would you write about?

Have you ever made a list of your most important values?  If you have, have you tracked whether you spend your time pursuing those values?  

How hard is it for us to spend our thinking time and doing time - the actual things we think about and do from the time we get up to the time we go to bed -  on what we believe is truly important and valuable?  And how much of our time and our thoughts are prescribed by others? (Would things be changed if we added dream time to the thinking calculation?)

How many of you would keep going to work if you were suddenly given a stipend of $100,000 a year for life?  Pause a bit and think about the answer . . .

If you stopped working, what would you do?  Would your life be caught up in stuff you 'have to do' because of stuff you own that needs attention (paying your bills, repairing your car or RV or boat, or iPhone, etc.)?  Would you be influenced in what you did by what other people would think?  Would your choices come from television shows, movies, and commercials?  Or would you create options based on your most important values? 

And even if you believe your work is basically worthwhile, how much of what you do at work is truly important and how much is wasted time?  We only have so many hours to spend on earth.  How can we spend them to best effect, whatever that means to you.  Do you know what that means to you?  [You mean you didn't stop to answer this?  You really don't have time to figure out what's most important to you?]

Do you set your agenda based on your values, or does the media set your agenda?  Or do  annoying people around you  set your agenda?  Do people's reaction to what you do or say affect your agenda?

Thought Control?

Have you ever made a diary of the topics you discussed with people in a day and then determined which topics were media inspired (like health care, the Olympics, global warming, the Hunger Games, Iran, the Euro,  Rihanna, or the latest tragedy in the world covered by the media) and how much was inspired by your life quest?  (Well, if you talked about health care because you were sick, that isn't necessarily media inspired, unless you then talked about the health care system.)

Having a few days with little internet connection and little other access to news, I started asking myself questions like these.  We talk so much about the importance of freedom, yet how many of us have much freedom?   How many of us know what we really want to do, have come up with options that weren't planned by marketing teams trying to figure out ways to get into our wallets or into the voting booth with us, or otherwise set our brains' agendas? 

And if you were to track how your thoughts were influenced by the media, would that be an original act, or would it be influenced by reading this blog? 

Obviously, being influenced by others isn't, by itself, a bad thing. 

But we shouldn't be ping-pong balls bouncing back and forth from headline to headline.  Rather we should develop some basic sense of who we are and what's important and when a passing idea will help us get where we want to go, it's fine to grab it and use it.  Or even when it causes us to question where we want to go.  But that shouldn't be happening five times a day or even five times a week.  Cutting off from 'the media' for a few days is healthy.  Anything really important we'll find out about when we turn it back on.  The rest we can do without. . .


  1. I remember participating in a group discussion a couple years ago where a young woman loudly announced that she just didn’t even bother talking to people anymore who weren’t “on-line” ie connected and informed about issues. I said I personally knew of folks up in Alaska who not only didn’t have computers but they also didn’t have running water or even electricity. And take a guess who I thought was infinitely more worth listening to.

    Then there are those who can go for hours, if not days on end creating their own worlds as artists - using media versus consuming mass-media. Unfortunately as an art teacher I’ve also observed firsthand how imagination is often one of the first casualties of oversaturation in such a culture of commodification.

    After unplugging for several days at a stretch on a hike, or even strolling on the tundra for a few hours to reconnect, it’s a crucial balance to keep. And the humbling knowledge that when all is said and done, stipend or not, someone’s still gotta clean the damn litterbox.

  2. Gee, and I woke up this morning reimaging a fun, playful and absolutely vivid dream of flying teddy bears and then, those images interrupted with a chuckle, having my mind seized by all the "public right to know" media coverage of Prince Harry's continued run-in with delayed adolescence, this time in Las Vegas.

    I am a robot.

    My dream-life is freedom! Life is but a cheap carney ride!

    Purpose? I've chosen to secure my university degree -- but in management, rather than philosophy I really love. (So I read the fun books on the side, keeping these thoughts away from university.)

    Sigh. Even in my re-creation after years of what I felt was always meaningful work and service I bear the wounds of functionality, as if my 'purpose' were still urging me. Freedom? I wonder as well.

    Thanks for the thought for the day, Steve. I'm off to America this morning.

  3. Every person has something to sell -- their time.

    A man we've known as a long-time buyer of our artwork just retired after 30 years as a public servant and told us, "I woke up the first day of my retirement and thought, 'Now, where was I?'"

    How sad is that?

    For nearly four decades, my partner and I have made a living (not a killing) as artists selling what we want to make. We are immensely grateful to our thousands of buyers who were & are willing to spend their days doing what they don't want to do -- so we can.

    Of course I know many people love their jobs and would do them even if they weren't paid. As the saying goes -- if your work is doing what you love, you'll never work again.

    We began our art life together with the philosophy of not making a sale, but making a customer who will come back, buy more and bring friends.

    It worked.

    (And those large $30 etchings ($55 framed) they bought back then are now appraised at $1500 -- it was never about the money, and yet looked what happened....)

    I am in a position now (as an heiress) not to have to work at art, but nothing has changed except we've lowered our prices even more! I am still eager to get up and "play" at my work.

    Our priority has been to use money as a tool so we can continue to work at what we love. All of our other decisions about living fell into place. (Like turning our condo into two large studios and all the walls are our gallery. It's a lovely space to work in AND It's a huge tax write off!)

    We took ego out of the equation and priced our work so people can really afford it -- we know the difference between value and price. We sell a lot more and grandly think we increase the general happiness in the world.

    (And your question about media influence? Nothing in the media inspires what we do. But it's still a great show to watch and read about and donate money to, like Avaaz who have achieved some good things. Love the internet and blogs like yours, Steve. Thanks for doing it -- it's increasing my happiness.)

  4. A huge proportion of my daily discussion concerns politics, not just the candidate horse race stuff but the underlying issues. I'm deeply concerned about what's happening in the world and what problems we're leaving for our children and grandchildren. I don't consider this to be media-inspired -- au contraire, we frequently discuss how poorly the media is covering the issues, and how that contributes to the problem.

    People generally are too ignorant, uneducated, uninformed, unsophisticated, uninterested (or your other favorite adjective) to understand that what the media tells you is not necessarily the whole truth or nothing but the truth.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.