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Playing Telephone with Society: Blinded Creativity

December 21, 2012

Why do what has been done simply because that’s how someone once did it? Confusing? Let me elaborate.

We were all born into a world without a clue as how to act. We learn to speak as others speak, walk how others walk, eat how others eat, and the rest of the basics. What’s happening in front of our eyes yet hidden from recognition is a process of not learning to think and create, but to mimic and follow.

We fall into a pattern of learning how to act and operate. From grocery shopping, education, work, daily operations, routines and the like on a macro level to specific actions within workplaces, stores, diverse institutions, households and daily life that shape our acceptances and expectations.

Blind faith in tradition and unsubstantiated disregard for creative novelty manifests within a structured system of expectation. As with everything, there are exceptions. A phenomenon yet to be understood is how select creative novelties becomes widely accepted while others vanish. Studies have found that ideas which spread like the plague do so by standing out and influencing people to comment positively. Then they become ‘acceptably acceptable,’ leading to another study proving once people realize something is liked by society, than they are indeterminably more inclined to also accept. The circulating message varies subtly, but what’s initially stated drives the circulation–like the game of telephone.

Researchers found the success of, for instance, a new book or movie can be traced back to initial commentary. If someone hears or reads one thing, they are more probable to shape an opinion to match, knowingly or not–especially if someone has clout. We have learned, however, those with clout don’t always speak truth or wisdom. This can range from general opinions within specific social circles to national generalizations.

In perspective, this is a ridiculous notion. As we’ve learned, though, ridiculousness is often remarkable– worthy of being remarked and remarked again–hence the reason

remarkable ridiculousness is proving a viable tactic of bypassing traditional blind faith and spreading creative insight.

Seeing beyond blind faith and spreading new ideas support each other, while contradictory in application, where innovative ideas and information freely expressed is in fact spreading due to an established human social pattern to accept and proliferate what is seen positively and disregard and forget what isn’t recognized as of merit by others. To clarify, while some innovative ideas meriting credit are spread, others are lost and disregarded because the driving force of widespread recognition is reliant on traditional patterns of following what is pre-established.

Discerning what is worthy and what is not is a task on it’s own, however, and spreading any idea of merit can be a challenging feat.

Have you ever moved into a new house or started a new job and seen or learned of pre-established habits and routines only to later stop and wonder why things are how they are, realizing they only are because that is how they were haphazardly done at first? I’m sure you’ve had this experience, more than a few times. This is where creative and influential ideas that create change arise.

Stir things up. Tradition is not always right. Learning from pre-determined decisions is not always wrong, but surely not always right. Switch your brain to question on default rather than trust. If there is a better way, find it.  

“Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

~ Albert Einstein


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