Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ordinary May Be Overrated!

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We live in a culture that increasingly embraces connectivity. The melding of outward disconnection with a simultaneous 24/7 digital conversation is both ironic and mildly disconcerting to those of us not permanently attached to this digital umbilical chord.

Social niceties and courtesies are becoming severely diluted. I recently navigated the labyrinth that is Victoria Station and found myself marveling at the mass commuter hive of activity and yet clinically barren of human interaction.

Each earnest participant on this treadmill journey seemed to be lost almost trance-like in some parallel universe, having engaged some sort of automatic homing device to skilfully navigate the human traffic.
Ipods at full volume, newspaper in one hand, steaming coffee in the other and midst this madding crowd a complete absence of eye contact. 

In this new world it would seem arcane and redundant to distract the herd by smiling, excusing yourself or being so bold as to offer some poor lost soul assistance.
The pause for thought prompted me to ponder the irony of this mass disconnect in a square mile comprising of innumerable heartbeats. I wonder if this immersing in our digital universe comes at a price.

A belated message? We are fed a diet of tabloid sound bytes that morphs into pop culture. We celebrate the superstars of the quarter minute and behold their ascension to the pedestal of the extraordinary. Meanwhile the masses despite more capacity for creative genius at their fingertips become ever more ordinary.

Be extraordinary. Try it for a moment. Find a voice, not one that is part of a chorus, just a unique sound. Herds provide comfort and security, but equally they are easy to shepherd and lead to some one else’s tune.

The problem with aspiring to the extraordinary of course is that peer pressure can be hard to ignore. Fitting in is the name of the game and being bold requires a little bravery.

  • A random act of kindness
  • stopping to offer assistance even though you’re late for an engagement with a cappuccino
  • responding to others tweets despite an overwhelming urge to share your fascinating thoughts to the world
  • checking out your loose facebook connections and making a comment even though they’ve never bothered to acknowledge your birthday
  • sending the secretary a bunch of flowers anonymously just to say thanks…..

Being extraordinary is not earth shattering, but can be profound in so many ways. I defy you to take a step away from the societal norm even briefly and be extraordinary and not feel a sense of enervating connectedness that lingers.

It may not be extraordinary but if you’d like to shake your urge to completely disregard this scribble and leave a comment that’d be great!!


Here’s hoping ordinary or extraordinary life’s unfolding well for you!



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8 comments:

Michael B Wilbraham said...

Aaah Kiaran, you just have a way...

I've long embraced this philosophy, in fact, one of my favourite sayings is "Why be normal!"

What I particularly like doing is when I'm at a checkout counter in a chain store, to make a point of greeting the cashier & saying "thank you, enjoy the rest of your day" when she has completed the transaction.

The reactions are varied & range from absolute shock to pleasantly surprised.

It ALWAYS makes me feel better too!

Stay inspired,
Michael

Oliver said...

Hi Kiaran,

a great take. I like it how you describe the commuting masses at Victoria station. Well, "like" is probably the wrong word, let's say I like your style ;-) The view can be frightening and being in the middle of this crowd either. That's called Rat Race. Would it disturb someone in this crowd if you practised a random act of kindness ? They are in a hurry, aren't they ? Anyway, your suggestions are awesome. You can make someone's day by these. And it costs no money.

Take care

Oliver

Jym said...

Beautiful sentiments Kiaran, thanks for putting this post up.

I'm absolutely in favor of ignoring agreed conventions in these places, such as not making eye contact, smiling at people or starting unwarranted conversations...

I find there's usually one of two reactions:

1. Some people open up wonderfully as if all they needed was permission to drop the ridiculous charade of seriousness and separation
2. Others ignore, or look at you with confusion as if to say "I don't know you... Why are you talking to me? What do you want?" etc

Once I carries an old lady's heavy shopping bags 200 meters to the train station in central Edinburgh. No effort for me at all. Foe her, it was like an angel had come to her rescue at a moment of need!

I felt good, she felt good, and we both had a story to tell...

Robert said...

Hey Kiaran,

I love this post and how you can make me feel that I am right there in the midst of everything. I can feel the crowd, hear the ipod and see how everyone is in their own world. With all this technology; some of us have connected with people all over the world (like you and I). Others are becoming more of a recluse and finding more joy in being mentally alone.

When I do have interaction with others I look to be very kind and thoughtful in how I treat them. I am always very polite and wish people a great day. It is very interesting in the type of looks I get from people, it is like I am a Alien and speaking a alien language.

Jerome Ratliff said...

Hey Kiaran,

You certainly have a way words and you do an awesome job with it.

I felt as though I was right there with you.

As far as being ordinary is concerned, some people absolutely love to stay here. I used to, for a brief time in my life.

But a deeper part of me want to be extraordinary.

Thanks for this great post.
Jerome Ratliff

Wayne Wu said...

Yeah, blessings to all those who can rise above the mediocrity and the metronome-like comings and goings of daily life.

People have lost their souls. But there is hope when there are people like yourself to inspire them to live life again.

Wayne

Heather C Stephens said...

Kiaran,

I just love reading your writing. I feel like you take me on an enjoyable and interesting journey.

Just yesterday, picking my daughter up from middle-school I was standing by my car in the parking lot watching all the parents checking email on their phone, talking on the phone, and barely acknowledging their kids as they got into the car.

None of the parents were chatting with each other, none of the parents even acknowledged each other.

I love your suggestion that we should all find our unique voice and be extraordinary. I think for many of us, it's probably the offline connections that are the ones that are suffering, not the twitter and facebook ones.

Great message!

Heather

Larry said...

Hi Kiaran, awesome post. To really make a go at online marketing you need to step out of your comfort zone and get rid of the herd mentality.

Thanks for sharing!
Larry