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05 February, 2013 - Source: Kindred

(Or I love my job, I just wish I had time to do it.)

Ben Friend

A line from a short story appeared at the front of my brain recently when I was considering the world we live in.


It’s a line from a short story by T. Coraghessan Boyle in which the main character finds it increasingly difficult to get rid of stuff. This inability to distinguish between the stuff he should keep and the stuff that was just crap continues until his house is jammed full of gear and, this is the line that popped into my head, he becomes; ‘……lousy with stuff.’

The reason it popped into my head was because I was contemplating how many demands are made on our time and how difficult to resist these demands are and how do you work out which one of the demands that are made are worth answering.

Now the answer to this may lie in the best description of my job I have ever heard. A friend was asked what he did for a living, he replied; ‘I stare out the window.’ He was being facetious of course like all good creatives should be but the point he was making was valid. If you want good stuff to come out you need to let it ferment in the brain and this requires time away from staring at a screen, answering emails, writing witty tweets and Facebook updates that let people know how busy you are.

To get output you must first have input. And that input has to settle and then have time to find a way back out.

It is no coincidence that that the advent of these demands has happened at the same time as a decrease in the quality of ideas. I’m not just talking about in advertising. Everywhere. Books, films, music; there’s just more crap than there was.

This could be because there’s just more stuff in general and therefore the proportion of crap rises, but there’s only more stuff because of all the channels that need filling.

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, blah blah blah, they are all a constant nagging presence in our lives that demand our attention. Craving us to give them things to put out there, so the millions of people who are dying to hear what we have to say are sated.

Well in opposition to that I would like to suggest another credo.

It’s called Nothingism.

It’s borne out of a something someone very smart said to me once. I was fretting about a situation and what I should do about it and how I should react and what I should say to so and so, on the basis of what so and so had said to so and so.

I was convinced the situation demanded a reaction and more importantly that the situation could only be resolved by me.

This very wise man suggested I do nothing.

Get that. Do nothing. When was the last time anyone did nothing in response to something?

The situation would not change if I got involved. I became convinced by the power of that idea. My hubris and indeed our hubris kills us. We are utterly convinced that the world would be a better place only if we say our piece.

You see it is my contention that Twitter, Facebook and all that are popular because of the thing that is most wrong with humanity.

Namely our hubris.

It is this that lies at the back of Facebook and Twitter. We feel we must say our piece and all that happens is that our voices just get lost.

So this is what I want you to do the next time you feel the world needs to hear your thoughts.


Don’t tweet.

Don’t update.

Just sit quietly for ten minutes and I think you’ll find the feeling will pass.

I just tried tweeting nothing by the way and it won’t let me. If that isn’t evidence of me being categorically right I don’t know what is.

Oh and one more thing.

Stop writing blogs that you think the world needs to read.

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