Brace for impact
Today we exist in a world that lives busy creating loads of mostly useless, soulless, cheap stuff, in a fight for the invisible currency of the day — attention — that can be ultimately converted to other currencies — essentially, money — which yield power, regardless of the collateral impact of getting it. In the “developed” world, this abundance of “junk” walks side by side with a widespread hunger for meaning, connection, and purpose. (In the “underdeveloped” world, the words hunger and junk — sometimes toxic — suffice to express what unfortunately is often widespread).
This junk is the surrogate, as Aldous Huxley would put it, that never satiates that hunger because it doesn’t offer real nutrition, only a snooze button to the “healing” alarm with a hit of instant gratification, be it in the form of a like or an unboxing.
Whole markets are created around the production of junk. When the junk is an object, its obsolescence is programmed to make sure that it is literally worthy of that name in a defined period of time, so the cycle is kept alive. When it’s not an object, complicated strategies, algorithms, and platforms are devised to serve it and make it as viral as possible, just for long enough as to enable the production of the next viral junk (viral = attention magnet of masses in a short period of time).
Conscious or not, we all are partners in this crime. Either by being on the junk production side of things or on the consumption one. Often we dwell in both.
So what to do?
Well, the first step is recognizing this situation. Nobody has ever made any lasting change while in denial of their predicament.
The second would be recognising in which ways we contribute to the perpetuation of this mechanism.
The third, would be ceasing that contribution as much as possible and/or seeking to contribute in initiatives that counter it. Not all is junk.
(Fourth? Maybe inspire others to go through this process also).
What are we “in pact” with?
All we do has an impact. The question is, are we aware of all the ramifications of it? Do our actions and their effect reflect the impact we would like to have in the world?
Every time we buy something, we are not just getting that good or service, we are supporting that business and production chain. Every time we reshare something on social media, we are not just communicating a mood or preference, we are giving visibility and propagating that information.
That also applies to our jobs. Let’s take the example of a designer. Is it the same to produce an outdoor for a far-right political party as it is to produce another with the same graphic elements but for a campaign for breast cancer awareness?
Is it the same for a marketeer to be working on a social media strategy for a luxury brand socialite as it is to be working on another one for a reforestation initiative?
From the standpoint of the amount of work, the tools and skills used, it might be the same. But is the impact the same?
Intrinsic motivators: impact
Last year, in order to test these ideas, while in search of strategies to keep the team’s motivation at a good level, we did an internal survey at Angry Ventures. In it, everyone was asked questions about the projects they liked the most, the ones that had an impact aligned with the one that they themselves would like to have in the world, and also which categories could these be grouped by.
From the answers came out an interesting pattern. The projects and categories with the most votes were, by far, the ones related to social and environmental impact. This means that, all things being equal, people find it more fulfilling to give their energy to these types of initiatives.
As often happens, most of these deeper wholistic ideas have been already identified in eastern philosophies. As one can read in this BBC article about ikigai:
“There is no direct English translation, but it’s a term that embodies the idea of happiness in living. Essentially, ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning. To those in the West who are more familiar with the concept of ikigai, it’s often associated with a Venn diagram with four overlapping qualities: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.”
In other words, in order to find “happiness in living” one of the pillars is to be acting in a way that provides for what is in need in the world.
The physics definition of work
In physics, there’s a quantity that gives the word “work” a different perspective than the one we are used to. It is the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force along a displacement. It is represented as the product of force (F) and displacement (s), in its most simplified form: W = Fs.
One can read from Encyclopedia Britannica:
“No work, as understood in this context, is done unless the object is displaced in some way and there is a component of the force along the path over which the object is moved.”
If we consider that impact is a form of displacement and we tweak this definition replacing one concept for the other, one can arrive at:
“No work is done unless it generates impact.”
The western surrogate of ikigai, which I’ll coin ikisad (as a play with the french word gai — cheerful — which gave way to the word gay, originally meaning happy, bright and attractive), can be cartooned as a Venn diagram in which the size of the 4 main circles is proportional to the amount of energy society puts into that category.
This means it has a hypertrophied “what you can be paid for” section, which intersects with the normal-sized “what you are good at” and barely touches the other two smaller* circles, meaning everyone is seeking money, and there’s a big chunk of people that are really good at what they do in spite it not being what they love nor what the world needs.
*Not much time is left for doing what we love and what is in need in the world, that’s for the dreamers and the naive.
Or is it?
Summing up and shuffling about the so-called impact
As some say in Portuguese, “resumindo e baralhando”.
I know this is coming out as a very grim post, until now. The point is not to despair or depress, but to shake the numbness out, to get you Angry to the point of action. There is a silver lining to this.
The fact that we are aware and accept the current reality, and how we are all responsible for it, is a first step towards changing it.
As a consequence of all these ideas coming to ripeness, a slight shift has happened at Angry Ventures, from which this post is just one of the first, shy, little flowers. We are seeking to help projects with social and environmental impact to make sure we actually do work (according to the definition arrived at in the last section).
If you have ideas or know of projects with this kind of impact in need of hands and brains working on the digital side of things, share them with us. Share us with them.
If not, just share these ideas, share this post. Let’s make “working on what the world needs and what we love” go viral.
In chaos theory, there is a concept that became popular, called the butterfly effect. It plays with the idea that a single butterfly flapping its’ wings can trigger a chain reaction that leads to a storm on the other side of the world.
Imagine if the butterfly could learn to control that effect so as to bring regeneration rather than destruction. Imagine if all butterflies learned this. That’s what we are leaning toward.
Thank you for your attention!
Originally published at https://angry.ventures.