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#041 Main Character, Weight, & Invisible Design
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Mackenzie and I grabbed dinner with a friend last night that we both knew from Chicago and haven’t had a real conversation with since we were living in the city during 2016. While you can imagine that we spent a lot of time catching up on what has changed since then, it’s interesting to find yourself going back to the period of time you had in common during conversation.
It’s like a constant “Oh I forgot about them, what are they up to now?” type of thing.
After a while of gathering ourselves, we started to reminisce on a rather murky moment of life that I try often to forget. He started to talk about how he was unlearning a lot of bad habits we all picked up during that time.
Let me set the stage for you. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re lucky.
I’m off in the corner waiting for people to leave a table so I can take a photo of my latte and afterward we’re driving very far away so we can all go take the very same photo that some person with 100,000 Instagram followers posted last week and got a lot of reception for. Then after we all take the photo we’re hoping anybody but ourself has to drive so that the rest of us can get a quick edit off and be the first to post to our own Instagrams. Then quickly refreshing to make sure that we’re on track to get the amount of engagement that lives up to par to the rest of our content.
I feel sick typing that.
If you know this scenario well, you know how dark it actually was. At the height of Instagram creator influencer-ship, none of us were really living a life that was real. We were seeing things and doing things with such great ulterior motives that it completely removed us from reality.
While that was just a small blip that the “creative community” on Instagram experienced early on, it quickly became the future for the world at large, opening up what we know as internet popularity to anybody who has the best joke, is willing to do the most outlandish pranks, or is sensually revealing—amongst a number other strange things that we like to give attention to. I still like breadface the most.
After coming down from that brief reflection, our friend said that now he just goes to amazing places and stares for a minute, then takes a deep breath. Maybe he’ll snag a photo then dump it off on a hard drive so that he can gander at it later when he’s old and starts to forget what he actually did in life.
As we’re picking at the last of the Branzino, he said something like “It sounds insane to say, but I don’t feel like the world is waiting on me anymore. I’m going back to see all the things I used to see but with a whole new perspective. When somebody asks if I’ve been somewhere, I don’t really count the first time. Being somewhere physically, mentally, and digitally are all different measures today. I just hope we figure out the difference sooner rather than later.”
I think “hope” is a kind way of saying that we desperately need to compartmentalize these things before it all gets even more out of control than it already is. When everyone has a spotlight on them, we’re all performing, feeding an audience that exponentially demands our full attention.
I try my best to avoid being dismal, but I think it’s worth thinking about: How much longer do we continue to believe that we have the privilege to actively make choices in life before we realize that we’ve made ourselves so big and and so demanding that we have no other choice but to keep feeding the thing that got us there in the first place?
Ideas from me
I. MAIN CHARACTER
There are times we find it hard to move forward because we think the whole world is waiting on us to make a move. Impending judgement is paralyzing while the reduction of our role in the world can be liberating.
We won’t stop caring what others think of us until we realize that people seldom do.
Become a person that is very clear in your ability to say “No” so that people can trust your “Yes” in a much more significant way than they’re used to in others.
III. INVISIBLE DESIGN
Perhaps the best design is invisible. Not the kind that puts more stuff into the world, but the kind that builds systems powerful enough to change human behavior.
A quote from somebody else
Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.
— Zadie Smith, On Beauty
Links worth sharing
📰 How Tumblr Became Popular for Being Obsolete, New Yorker
💡 I used this tool to develop a lighting diagram for a visual guidelines project this week after trying to make awful 2 dimensional shapes in Figma. Very helpful.
🩴 We Should All Be Wearing House Shoes (Mostly because LA streets and NY MTA is covered who in knows what), The Cut
🪐 Had the chance to work on branding and design with my friends at Cosmos. Scroll through to read what they’re bringing to the internet and drop your email to join the waitlist.
🏃♂️ The Long Way Home with Joe Boston, MOUTHWASH
🎧 I am so tired of all music so I just listen to Animal Crossing remixes while I work. Feels like I’m walking around fishing and digging up fossils. Shout out Jason for this hack.
Thanks for another week!
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