Don't Let The World Be Boring
Picture this. It’s 6.15 in the morning. Your smart alarm clock/thermostat/connected home wakes you up. You’re caught up with algorithmically chosen news stories by 6.19.
You pull on a new jumper, from a subscription box of clothes selected for you by an AI based on previous purchases.
You grab a bottle of meal-replacement gruel for “hustlers” on the go, to save precious minutes so you can make the early train and burn your precious finite life-energy (/jk) so you can earn money to spend on more meal-replacement drinks. Such convenient!
You walk into your living room. It’s empty except for a Google Home speaker in the middle of the floor and a giant QLED TV on the wall. You breath a deep sigh of mindfulness as you look at where all your pointless CDs and books and magazines and printed photos and other junk used to be.
Let’s be honest. Bland commercialism won, and we’re cannonballing towards the boringest of dystopias.
Not that we haven’t gained something. Music, film, games, business ideas, food - everything is more democratic to make and more accessible than ever. And yet, everything has started to look the same. The design of electronic products is merging into a singularity. Mainstream fashion is more relaxed, and yet more conservative than it has been in years. Instagram has blanded and blended our lives into identikit assemblies of style and meaning, ever easier to automate with the touch of a smartphone button.
In the face of this potential near-future, I believe we have a job as creators. A mission. Stop the world from being boring.
There are plenty of entities out there whose job is to streamline and regiment the world. And for good reason. You don’t want a maverick dentist, or a virtuoso housing minister. But our job is different.
Our job is to make the world MORE interesting. It’s easy to do what’s been done before, and to play it safe. Resist that feeling! Put forward something weird to your client, even if you’re worried about their reaction. More than once the wildcard I’ve put in to a presentation - the thing I can’t logically explain, but just think is cool and unusual - ends up being the winner.
We over logic-ify everything, which in an era of behavioural psychology, makes no sense at all. We’re irrational creatures. Let’s embrace it.
Un-boring means following your gut instinct and refining something brilliant out of it. It means seeking out left-field design references. Bringing surprises to the table. It means bucking the trend rather than following it. It means saying the thing that no-one is thinking, and seeing what happens. It means keeping your eyes and ears open, and jumping on something that feels right.
I’m not talking about being pretentious or obtuse. I’m talking about being the person in the room who is going to change the conversation, who’s going to broaden the discussion. You don’t need creativity - you don’t need ideas - if all you’re looking for is competent execution.
Fill your head with wonderful stuff from around the world. Listen to Finnish free jazz and annoy the Spotify algorithm. Go and see an exhibition of watercolourists in a regional town. Watch films from decades gone by that everyone ignores because they’re not on Netflix. Go to meetups and meet real people and find out about lives that aren’t the same as yours. Eat pasties in a sevice station and read up about traditional Japanese carpentry. Read a damn book once in a while.
Perhaps in the future it’s going to be considered rebellious to revel in the messiness of the real world rather than browsing costumes for your avatar and earning/spending reward coins from corporate matrix-masters. Perhaps Facebook is fine and not the worst thing to happen to society since Insert Thing Here. Who knows. And plenty of people will make fun of you, of being “so creative” and “so hipster” and “you’re always doing something trendy aren’t you”. Well, all I know is that I’ve decided that instead of sitting down and asking Alexa to “play Marvel Movie #233”, I’m going to try to throw some stuff into the mixer and see where I get.
Now go and create.