Posted on Aug. 8, 2012, 10:43 p.m.
I've been thinking a lot about what I ought to do with my life. I've had the feeling for a long time that I need to make a "dent in the universe" as Steve Jobs once said, but I haven't really figured out what the hell I supposed to be denting. I've banged up my proverbial fist trying to something going, but mostly nothing has happened. It turns out the world is really fucking difficult to change when you don't know how to affect the issues that need attention.
At first I thought there was something I could do with the whole Occupy thing, but that, I believe, is so far misguided and undereducated that there's not much that can be done to save it. It's not that the causes are bad, but the fact that there are so many causes wrapped up in the movement. You want to change the financial system? Great, let's fix it. Oh, you want to fix sixty-seven-thousand other things too? Yeah, that's not gonna happen. Protests work when there's a single cause (i.e. the civil rights movement, women's suffrage, et cetera). The major reason blanket protesting body doesn't work is people simply can't pay attention to that many things.
There's a great example of this in the advertising world in Ken Segall's new book Insanely Simple. The story goes something like this: Lee Clow, Segall and company are having a meeting with Jobs about advertising for a new product. Ironically enough, Jobs idea for the ad is to show off four or five features of the new device. Clow and company go back and forth with him in an attempt to get him to simply show off one new feature. Jobs, true to form, isn't into backing down and the meeting starts to get a little heated. Clow tears five sheets of paper out of his notebook and crumples them up. He throws one at Jobs as he yells, "Catch!" Jobs, looking confused, catches the ball and tosses it back to Clow who says, "That's a good ad." Clow then throws all five balls at Jobs who was unable to catch any of them. "That's a bad ad," Clow says.
People can only really handle one thing, so here's my advice: let's throw one thing--really fucking hard--and get it done. When we're done with that, let's move on to the next item on the list and so forth until the world is the way we want it. We're never going to get anywhere throwing hundreds of ideas out and seeing what sticks. We need to realize we're not going to be able to accomplish everything all at once. Further, we're not going to be able to please everybody and the long we let ourselves believe that delusion and try to keep it alive, the longer things stay the same.