A Culture of Ideas

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The culture of today is overloaded with the constant influx of messages; whether it’s through advertising, social media (especially), conversations, notifications.

All of this information and ‘noise’ feels random doesn’t it.

Walking along the street you see different flashing signage, shop fronts, on-street marketers, and the constant buzzing of pockets. This level of communication is overwhelming. Or it used to be anyway. We’ve just become accustom to its bombardment. We just accept the random pieces of information that are thrust upon us.

As much as we may think this information is random, it can all be categorised under one form. An idea. Each message is a proposal for a way of life, a way to view the world. However small or large, each proposal, each idea - true or false - effects how we see the world: good, bad, ugly, colourful, rigid, fleeting, happy, sad, exciting.

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed — fully understood — that sticks; right in there somewhere.” – Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Inception 2010

Each idea sticks with us. Some more than others. But most have a part to play in our lives, shaping our values and ways of living. There will be thousands of ideas that we encounter, simple and complex, but we need to understand that these are not random; they’re not just background noise.

Our values used to be formed by family, friends and day to day interactions with normal people. ‘Family values’ are still used in value statements for companies today. I challenge that it can not be possible to be driven solely by family values anymore. You can’t be. We are influenced too much by other forces, other motives, other ideas.

Values, personalities, passions are no longer driven by the inward living of family conversation. We’re guided and built by a connected world. The “head down culture” is so trapped in the influences of their cat-loving news feeds that we’re not realising the information/propositions/ideas we are absorbing everyday and, inevitably, living by.

The ability to see the bigger picture is being lost more and more each day. How great it is that we have so much information at our finger tips. But when we don’t search for validation or debate about the ideas thrust upon us, we become a blindly accepting follower of a social channel, that, let’s face it, is as sociable as watching that video of a cat running into a glass door. It’s a communication tool for brands to tell you how to live and make your life better.

We need to move away from the biassed feed of pixels that is moulding us. Debate stuff. Validate stuff. Get excited by the opportunity of discovering real information by having real conversations, reading real stories. Now is the time to think for ourselves. Argue, learn, fail, succeed, experiment. Create our own opinions. Build our own ideas.

And for the marketeers, brands and advertisers who are creating this bombardment, the impact you make with one sentence changes lives. A wise man once said “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Understand the impact you make.

Use your power, but I urge you to think of the moral implications of what you are proposing.