Words


From the time that human beings moved from sign language to speaking, words have become the most important form of expression. Communication has been the key to the process of human evolution. Sure there have been other factors that have also led to the evolution but communication has been the most important. Most of the inventions would have failed if there was not a communication channel to help reach out to masses.

When it is about communication, can the conversation about advertising be far behind? 🙂

Advertising helped the masses in getting to know new products, new technologies, new ideas. Stuff that was relevant for them. Of course advertising moved from mere information dissemination to more evolved approach of plugging a need gap, creating a desire, making people buy something which had lot more attached to it than pure functionality.

But this post is not about advertising or communication. It is about words. Words that string together to form a sentence. A sentence that communicates what we feel, what we like, what we don’t life, express our point of view.

Long back when there was no internet, no social media, no communication apps, we relied on speaking face to face. For long distance, there was post – Inland letters for regular updates, written pages in an envelope about detailed stuff, love letters, fights, breakups. Everything had a ritual to it. Everything had anticipation. That waiting for the postman to arrive or checking the mailbox as soon as you got home. That first reading of the letter quickly. Then taking time to read it the second time. Pondering over words on the page. Trying to visualise what the person at the other end was feeling when writing. Lovers treasured the letters and visited them over and over. When a break up happened, a bonfire was made of the letters. The letters were burnt but memories remained.

Cut to 21st century. We still communicate. More rapidly than ever before. We type and hit send. And the fact that it is all instant (try this sometime. How long do you wait, how often do you go over what you have typed before pressing send), has meant that we don’t much bother about what the words can do. We don’t pay attention to the language or even to specific words. Words that may cause hurt, anger, love, misunderstanding. There is no crossing out once ‘send’ button has been pressed (of course apps are looking at building a recall feature – high time). The problem is that receiver too reads the messages instantly and reacts instantly. We say people have become more expressive today with all the fancy stuff they can do with emoticons and emojis. I say we have lost the art of communicating. Art of using the right words. Art of pondering over what we really want to communicate.

Back when we used to write, we would go over what we had written again and again. At times tear the sheet if we felt it sounded wrong. There was a clarity of thought. For the sender and for receiver. Not anymore.

Considering that we now ‘talk’ less and text more – love happens on text, proposing happens on text, sex happens on text, break up happens on text… we don’t think too much before typing and sending the message. We do not think of the impact words can have on the person who gets the message. Even when we read the message, we read the words. We do not try to read the intent behind the words. We do not visualise person’s state of mind when he/she was typing out the message.

It is a pity though. For someone who loves words, loves what they can do, it saddens me to see what we are doing to them. Not just in personal communication, but even in the profession I am in. The art of writing. The art of persuasive words has disappeared. It has disappeared because we don’t have the craft. The client doesn’t want too many words. The evolved consumer thinks in terms of number of characters rather than sentences. Thinks in terms of emojis. So we also need to communicate the same way.

We don’t read enough therefore we do not have the vocabulary to express well enough.

This though doesn’t matter so much. We get what we deserve. Of special concern is breakdown of communication between two individuals and that really is the sad part of being in the digital era.

Comfort Zone


We all have our comfort zones and we love them. They provide a sense of security and a walls that keep us away from all the supposed stress and bad things.

We fall in love with our comfort zones so much that we turn it into a fortress. We believe we are protecting ourselves but what we are doing essentially is saying no to a whole lot of things. We are rationalising our behaviour. Stepping out, bringing the walls down takes a lot of courage. We look for reasons not to do so. If we were to toss a coin, we will go through “best of three”, “best of five”…

What is a comfort zone really? The obvious answer of course is everything that makes us comfortable. People, things, products, service, our habits, our culture. You can add or delete to the list but this list essentially forms our comfort zone. We do try once in a while to push the wall on one of the things. Test ourself out. If it works, we will push further. But if it doesn’t, the barriers are raised.

But enough has been said and written about this, so wont go on and on.

Coming to the reason for this post. I have decided to test its limits. I am going to give up on smoking, drinking, non vegetarian food and sweets. People who have read my blog regularly would now my complete love for nicotine and how I look at it. The ones who know me well enough, they know what a big foodie I am and how non vegetarian food is such an integral part of me being foodie! And I do like my beer too. Sweets I have always been partial to desi sweets. Four things in one go. I am really going to test myself. And test the patience of people around me!

So lets see how it goes. I am going to work on the quarter principle. One quarter at a time. Forever sounds like a huge task and I don’t want forever. So breaking it down into smaller goals.

That’s a life lesson by the way. Do not aim for something really big and plan for it. Yes that is the ultimate goal but focus on smaller steps that will get you there. We usually do not do that. We aim for the big goal and create stress for ourselves when it takes time to reach there.

So here goes with my experiment of stepping out of the comfort zone. If this succeeds, there are more things to do. 🙂

 

From :) to :(


First up, inspiration for this post comes from episode 14 of #warikooWednesdays.

So the journey between 🙂 and 😦 could take a moment or it could take a lifetime

These emoticons just represent Happy to unhappy. From totally together to falling apart.

There is a lot that happens between the two emoticons. The initial rush, making you blind to everything but as time passes, the shift begins. It starts tending towards 😐 and then head towards 😦

The strange part is we can see the change, we are feeling the change by focusing on the flaws. We are fuelling the change by pointing out the flaws.

It’s like we want the shift to happen. Self fulfilling prophecy in our head. We are pushing for it.

Now why? Why do we do that? Like Ankur says.. why not live that first 🙂 over and over. Why let things change. There is no law of society or universe that says change must happen.

Ok I get it that nothing stays the same. If nothing stays the same, why should it tend towards 😐 or :(? Why can’t there be different expressions to 🙂 or :)) or whatever the other Happy, cheerful and positive emoticons are.

And no, familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt. Familiarity must put you in a comfort zone. Contentment. Peace.

There is a reason 🙂 happened. So let that reason be the core to everything. That’s the foundation. Everything else is a reaction to what the environment is going to throw at you. Surely those things cannot be more powerful than the emotion that led to 🙂 if they are, then you have cheated. Cheated on creating the 🙂 moment. You were not honest about it.

This world is now full of emoticons and emojis. We have started bookending conversations with them. Or messages which only have these. Somehow, these emoticons have made emotions shallow and frivolous. If every statement has something hanging at the end, there is never a special moment.

Like I was telling someone the other day, we react to the words now. We just read the words and react. We don’t have the time or patience to read deeper. Read what has not been said. It is not about reading between the lines. It’s about traveling deeper into those words anymore.

We do try that at the beginning. When 🙂 happens. But it’s like that achieved, a box has been ticked. Who then has the time or patience. “If you want to say something, be clear. I don’t have the time to interpret the meaning of what you said.” That’s where the journey to 😦 starts.

Heavy shit for Saturday morning? Or is this :)) LOl ROFL or I don’t know what the emoticon, slang or emoji will be for “this guy is talking absolute rubbish”

But do watch episode 14 of #warikooWednesdays. Ankur has said lot more profound stuff in 5 mins than my long rambling here. Oh and yeah I should end this with a 🙂

Keeping up


It has really been a long long time that I have posted every day of the week. So I figured, let’s make this 5 days in a row.

As the title suggests, it is tough keeping up.

Keeping up with the way the world is changing (yeah yeah am getting old).

It’s tough keeping up with things that matter.

It’s tough keeping up with people who don’t matter.

It’s tough keeping up with expectations – your own and of the others.

It’s tough keeping up with societal mores (increasingly these mores are leading to stress in lives of many people).

What is our aim in life? It’s a serious question.

Strip yourself off the predictable answers about success at work and in relationships and then ponder over the question.

Strip away the usual answers that come to your head about being human or larger good. Strip away answers that come to your head that sound politically correct.

What have you got left? Nothing.

So why are you keeping up with everything that doesn’t really matter in your life? Why are you putting up a facade?

Isn’t it time you really gave it some thought.

Cheap


Hell yeah! We all want everything cheap! Everything discounted. We want the best but CHEAP. We don’t see the price, we see the discount %. We delay our purchase till we get it cheap. We hunt through the websites, we wait for the announcements, we have things put in the wish list or shopping cart… waiting for the SALE. This cuts across all demographics, psychographics and income groups.

We carry this CHEAP into everything we do, not just in shopping for products. We want to hire the best talent at lowest price. We make compromises, cut corners to reduce or investment for more profitability.

Strangely enough, we carry this mentality even into our everyday relationships. Here it is not really about money but the give and take of emotions. We want more but we want to give less.

We are reaching a point where we are going to question even paying anything at all.

The concept of VALUE has changed. Value no more is associated with what it means but at what price it is available. Will I get more for less… that’s my value.

But then it happens, what we get for less or for free, it never holds the same place for us as something that we invested a lot in.

The whole idea of cheap is to use and throw away. What we retain in our cupboards, whether physical space mind space are those things and relationships that have come at a cost.

We crib about our clients not paying enough money for services rendered or goods sold. All the while beating down prices downstream. We moan about our partner not investing enough in the relationship yet at the same time, we are not investing enough.

And when we believe that we are not getting enough, we look at means that will give us that enough. And we all know, those means are rarely if ever, the right means.

It is a vicious circle. And the fact that it is a circle, it will continue.

50:50


Every decision that you take, either will be a success or a failure. There are no half measure. There is no point in being almost successful. It’s a failure.

Most people, while they want success, they are planning for failure. Looking at all factors to mitigate risks. We do this not just in business situations but also in personal life. We prefer to tread path which involves very low risk or no risk at all. We shy away from tough decisions. We don’t want to get out of our comfort zone. We look for excuses that will help us rationalise our thinking.

I know enough has been said and written about this.

But hey, 50:50… don’t you think those are great percentages??

You could do all the analysis in the world and yet not account for being blindsided by something that you did not take into account at all! That one factor which you were not aware of. Was not even on the horizon as a threat. Similarly that one factor that would have led to immense success but you could not see it and hence chose not to walk down that path.

The point is, you can’t plan for failure and hope for success.

The trick is to play the odds. Either you are a roaring success or a spectacular failure. Either way, you would have learnt something.

So why don’t we take the chance? Fear of failure. Fear of upsetting the status quo. Fear of losing it all that we have right now.

I know I am guilty of not taking risks myself. Well I have, but not when they mattered the most. There is time for a change.