“Someone shot nostalgia in the back
Someone shot our innocence”
[Bauhaus – again]
At some point in time – now lost – our ability, and our ability to be honest about our ability, became decoupled. We have become masters like never before of over-inflating our own possible contribution, or that of others, and more worrying actually believing it. Marking our own exam papers. We have eroded to danger levels stocks of words and expressions able to hold our activities and output in proportion. We are untethered, adrfit.
We are used to people selecting cheese and onion crisps expressed and enacted as a food consumption strategy.
And we’ve loosened the nuts on the self-congratulatory myth of the era of unprecedented change in a recent post.
But every time two people are in conversation its collaboration, when for the vast majority of time they are co-operating and co-ordinating under instruction. Or heaven forbid just talking turkey. What did this collaboration output? Or was it just a damn good conversation, and you’ve agreed to keep it going?
If we have a new idea, develop a work-around, a clever new addition or modification, think of a different way to do something that we used to stuff in the Suggestions Box, its innovation. We have rooms, groups, teams, departments, job titles and awards for the honour. Obviously innovation is the output of collaboration because no-one thinks of anything on their own.
Whipping up a storm in an ergonomic task chair with a cheeky hashtag or blog post, a provocative tweet or turning a bit of #thingshavetochange attitude and its disruption. Not the annoying, confusing and unsettling type that got you lamped at school, of course, but the stuff that gives you that tingle of being naughty because you never were at school. Like stealing two kids’ masks in Breakfast at Tiffanys.
When we’re pursuing an idea that’s interesting, popping off at a tangent, considering we may have a different take on things, or breaking the mould by wearing socks of different colours (at the same time!) we’re game-changing. Even though its exactly the same game, the same metaphors, all in the safety and security of the boundary fence.
When we’re incrementally developing a thought, idea, product, it’s now a revolution. Let’s just check – is anyone on the streets, has power changed hands, systems been overthrown, institutions come crashing down, are we re-evaluating everything we ever held to be true?
And the stupidity loses control even of itself and we end up with… a “mind grenade” as insight (I have Jane Watson to thank for this gem). Just dwell on the irony in that for a moment.
Ideas, work-arounds, incremental development, healthy provocation, working together, they’re all vital to progress. That’s not enough in this age of sensation though, is it? If you’re not collaborating, innovating, disrupting, game-changing and revolting, you’re just a reactionary old fart by default. That’s me then.
The difficulty with that proposition is that having dragged every one of these terms from their rarity and lustre into the mediocrity of the mainstream, made them so accessible that we’re in the zone just as soon as we are out of our pyjamas – sometimes even before, given the “home-working revolution” – we’ve exhausted and nullified all perspective, lost the reference points for our thought and actions. We are untethered, adrift. Its time we listened to ourselves. Its time we grew up.
We all killed Mr Moonlight.