Explode into Space #61 - Connect or Die!

Dear Readers,

If I told Daniel Pink that I'm not selling anything with Explode into Space he would probably disagree. Everyone is a salesman to Daniel Pink and, no, not the back-stabbing, uptight car dealer kind you might think. Pink is the author of the new book To Sell is Human and, as he is wont to do, flips the world on it's axis with his radical views on what people do to be people.

We live in a universe where it takes other people to exist and there is a good amount of time and effort spent trying to "sell" our little stake. We make ourselves valuable for tons of reasons - job interviews, romantic adventures, book deals, newsletter subscriptions, social network followers, you name it. We're selling our personal brand. We selling ourselves. Forget what you think of the word "sell", this is not slime. If you could suspend your belief to notice we're all selling something, you'd realize we're just a flowing mass of give and take. Some do one of more than others, and that's the place where it gets fuzzy. The Internet, though, has transformed the marketplace into the human salesman culture. 

Once we expand our definitions of the sales marketplace, we can start to see all business is connection. Whereas a newborn will cry itself to death without someone to care for him or her, business is nothing without a buyer and a seller. There is connection in transaction. Tiffany Shlain cracks open the concept of interdependence in her documentary Connected. Weaving a mosaic of personal anecdotes of trauma and celebration with stylized animation and archived footage, Shlain presents the revolutionary notion that what the world needs now is to embrace our endless web of connections. We're no longer a world of independent salespeople, we're connected in interdependence by every sale possible. In a buzzing world of information and motion, our actions make ripples and waves beyond our perceived possibilities. 

We should be grateful to grow up and connect through the click of a mouse. Never has it been so easy for ideas to spread and land overnight. And whereas some rotten critics may downplay the significance of growing discourse, like TED talks or YouTube sensations, for the flimsy presentation of untested ideas, I'd argue that everything begins with an idea. Ideas are not garbage without action because in a world where you can project you can influence. Ideas start movement. Look at MLK. Look at Steve Jobs. Look at Hitler. Ideas are dangerous.

If I've ever sounded like and sold you on the idea that I'm interesting or smart by proxy of my writing, it is because, as the Internet tells me, Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants." If two minds are better than one, the Internet is the best. While we may never agree on everything, the Internet has provided our minds with the capacity to see all conversations while we participate within them. Simple connection through wires is not enough. We need to connect on a deeper level, says Shlain, not just more broadly. We need conversation that matters, that exists, that thrives past the digital sales-floor.

Back in the 60's, media theorist Marshall McCluhan made the radical declaration that "the medium is the message" In other word, the way we package ideas affects the way the content is received. No duh, right? I found myself easily falling into the trap, though. Is it not enough to just talk at people and hope and adore the someone that is listening?  

To be honest, MailChimp, the new service I use to style and send out my newsletter, has opened a world of information to me. For the beautiful people who have signed up, I am able to see how many of you opened the email. Reading and comprehended and taking action are whole other stories. And yet to know this information is to know that sending my messages out Thursday mornings as opposed to Wednesday nights, like I did last week, gets less opens. But that's not what I care to do. Numbers won't tell me anything about the connection I'm making unless I ask you, "Hey, what was so compelling about that email title or time that you opened it?" I would love more eyes or clicks on my work, but with the air of connection it's no fun unless people want to talk about this stuff. 

And, above all, as much as we crave connection, the Internet has a funny way of providing it. With all the channels and audiences we're bound to tap into there is potential for connection. Before falling in love with Connected, I found Tiffany Shlain after Thnkr, one of my favorite YouTube channels, tweeted her words: "Oxytocin is considered the love hormone. When you text and tweet, you get this little hit of oxytocin." 

And it goes back further. I found Thnkr searching YouTube for Jason Silva videos and he was interviewed on the Epiphany series. Silva was a guest on The Joe Rogan ExperienceJoe Rogan popped up when I was searching videos to make me laugh when I hated my cubicle job and George Carlin and Bill Hicks justified my anger. The connections go on, the point is our minds love it. There is no end to our searching, it's what makes life a adventure. We want shotgun blasts of oxytocin if we can get it, and I think Tiffany Shlain and Daniel Pink have the right idea in two different pieces: We're all selling because we're all connected because we all need to be.

I need to connect to you all and I'm going to find a better way to have my words reach out. Shlain ended Connected with a quote from John Muir and I'd like to end here with one too:

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

Suggestions are welcome. Send me some oxytocin.

Until next time...

explode into space.