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robertogreco : boringness   11

You Are Boring — The Magazine
"Everything was going great until you showed up. You see me across the crowded room, make your way over, and start talking at me. And you don’t stop.

You are a Democrat, an outspoken atheist, and a foodie. You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops.

You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst. No wait—Coke is the worst! Unless it’s Mexican Coke, in which case it’s the best.

Pixar. Kitty cats. Uniqlo. Bourbon. Steel-cut oats. Comic books. Obama. Fancy burgers.

You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals. You stay up late on Twitter making hashtagged jokes about the event that everyone has decided will be the event about which everyone jokes today. You love to send withering @ messages to people like Rush Limbaugh—of course, those notes are not meant for their ostensible recipients, but for your friends, who will chuckle and retweet your savage wit.

You are boring. So, so boring.

Don’t take it too hard. We’re all boring. At best, we’re recovering bores. Each day offers a hundred ways for us to bore the crap out of the folks with whom we live, work, and drink. And on the Internet, you’re able to bore thousands of people at once.1

A few years ago, I had a job that involved listening to a ton of podcasts. It’s possible that I’ve heard more podcasts than anyone else—I listened to at least a little bit of tens of thousands of shows. Of course, the vast majority were so bad I’d often wish microphones could be sold only to licensed users. But I did learn how to tell very quickly whether someone was interesting or not.

The people who were interesting told good stories. They were also inquisitive: willing to work to expand their social and intellectual range. Most important, interesting people were also the best listeners. They knew when to ask questions. This was the set of people whose shows I would subscribe to, whose writing I would seek out, and whose friendship I would crave. In other words, those people were the opposite of boring.

Here are the three things they taught me.

Listen, then ask a question
I call it Amtrak Smoking Car Syndrome (because I am old, used to smoke, thought that trains were the best way to get around the country, and don’t really understand what a syndrome is). I’d be down in the smoking car, listening to two people have a conversation that went like this:

Stranger #1: Thing about my life.
Stranger #2: Thing about my life that is somewhat related to what you just said.
Stranger #1: Thing about my life that is somewhat related to what you just said.
Stranger #2: Thing about my life…

Next stop: Boringsville, Population: 2. There’s no better way to be seen as a blowhard than to constantly blow, hard. Instead, give a conversation some air. Really listen. Ask questions; the person you’re speaking with will respect your inquisitiveness and become more interested in the exchange. “Asking questions makes people feel valued,” said former Virgin America VP Porter Gale, “and they transfer that value over to liking you more.”

Watch an old episode of The Dick Cavett Show. Cavett is an engaged listener, very much part of the conversation, but he also allows his partner to talk as well. He’s not afraid to ask questions that reveal his ignorance, but it’s also clear he’s no dummy.2

Online, put this technique to use by pausing before you post. Why are you adding that link to Facebook? Will it be valuable to the many people who will see it? Or are you just flashing a Prius-shaped gang sign to your pals? If it’s the latter, keep it to yourself.

Tell a story
Shitty pictures of your food are all over the Internet. Sites like Instagram are loaded with photo after photo of lumpy goo. What you’re trying to share is the joy you feel when the waiter delivers that beautifully plated pork chop. But your photo doesn’t tell the story of that experience. Your photo rips away the delicious smell, the beautiful room, the anticipation of eating, and the presence of people you love.

Instead, think of your photo as a story. When people tell stories, they think about how to communicate the entirety of their experience to someone else. They set the stage, introduce characters, and give us a reason to care. Of course, that’s hard to do in a single photo, but if you think in terms of story, could you find a better way to communicate your experience? How about a picture of the menu, or of your smiling dinner companions? Anything’s better than the greasy puddles you have decided any human with access to the Internet should be able to see.

Expand your circles
Several years ago, my wife and I went on a long trip. We had saved a little money, and the places we were staying were cheap, so we could afford private rooms in every city but one. Guess where we made the most friends? In Budapest, where we were jammed into a big room with a bunch of folks, we were forced into situations we never would have sought out. I wouldn’t have met Goran, the Marilyn Manson superfan who was fleeing the NATO bombing of Belgrade on a fake Portuguese visa. Or Kurt, the Dutch hippie who let us crash on his floor in Amsterdam. Stepping out of your social comfort zone can be painful, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.3

As you widen your social circle, work on your intellectual one as well. Expose yourself to new writers. Hit the Random Article button on Wikipedia. Investigate the bromides your friends chuck around Twitter like frisbees.

When you expand your social and intellectual range, you become more interesting. You’re able to make connections that others don’t see. You’re like a hunter, bringing a fresh supply of ideas and stories back to share with your friends.

The Big Bore lurks inside us all. It’s dying to be set loose to lecture on Quentin Tarantino or what makes good ice cream. Fight it! Fight the urge to speak without listening, to tell a bad story, to stay inside your comfortable nest of back-patting pals. As you move away from boring, you will never be bored."
interestingness  interestedness  listening  scottsimpson  2012  uniqueness  hivemind  echochambers  noise  howtolisten  howto  storytelling  cv  homogeneity  diversity  exploration  interviewing  instagram  twitter  blogs  blogging  podcasts  dickcavett  boringness  interested 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Fear of Being Boring
"Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was how friendly and talkative people were. Shopkeepers seemed genuinely pleased to see me and really tried to be helpful. Random strangers -- in shops, on trains, in the bank -- would talk to me about absolutely anything. You might say that people are always nice to tourists anywhere, but the Bay Area is such a multicultural place that I don't think these people even realised I was a tourist. Hell, some of them were asking me for directions.

People in the Bay Area were talkative, I think, because they weren't afraid of being boring."
socialnorms  etiquette  society  social  communication  bayarea  california  stephenbond  boring  boringness  interstingness 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The most boring culture on Earth
"The Baining, an indiginous group of Papua New Guinea, shun play and basically don't do anything but work.
According to Fajans, the Baining eschew everything that they see as "natural" and value activities and products that come from "work," which they view as the opposite of play. Work, to them, is effort expended to overcome or resist the natural. To behave naturally is to them tantamount to behaving as an animal. The Baining say, "We are human because we work." The tasks that make them human, in their view, are those of turning natural products (plants, animals, and babies) into human products (crops, livestock, and civilized human beings) through effortful work (cultivation, domestication, and disciplined childrearing).

The Baining believe, quite correctly, that play is the natural activity of children, and precisely for that reason they do what they can to discourage or prevent it. They refer to children's play as "splashing in the mud," an activity of pigs, not appropriate for humans. They do not allow infants to crawl and explore on their own. When one tries to do so an adult picks it up and restrains it. Beyond infancy, children are encouraged or coerced to spend their days working and are often punished -- sometimes by such harsh means as shoving the child's hand into the fire -- for playing. On those occasions when Fajans did get an adult to talk about his or her childhood, the narrative was typically about the challenge of embracing work and overcoming the shameful desire to play. Part of the reason the Baining are reluctant to talk about themselves, apparently, derives from their strong sense of shame about their natural drives and desires.

But maybe Americans are becoming more boring as our children's freedom to explore is curtailed:…"

[Peter Gray's article is here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201207/all-work-and-no-play-make-the-baining-the-dullest-culture-earth ]
culture  via:lukeneff  boredom  boringness  baining  papuanewguinea  psychology  anthropology  petergray  2012  parenting  children  stoicism  allworknoplay  play  adderall  jasonkottke 
july 2012 by robertogreco
potlatch: riots and credit crunches: when economic objects attack
"What to do? The Actor Network Theorist might smirk and say that we should be putting the HDTVs and trainers in jail, rather than the poor human actors who sought to liberate them. Maybe the mortgage-backed CDOs should themselves be appearing before Congress, explaining what they were up to in the years leading up to 2007. The bankers were merely their servants. Or else we need to rediscover the virtues of a boring, inanimate economy, as the basis for an animated social and cultural world, as Marx intuited. The tedium of the old socialist block - laughable cars, unchanging fashions, steady incomes, pitiful growth - was always at the heart of its apparent legitimacy crisis. But it strikes me that it's precisely this tedium that we now need more of, to escape the tyranny of financial and consumer objects."
anthropology  sociology  markets  marxism  neoliberalism  riots  2011  actornetworktheory  karlmarx  socialism  finance  london  uk  society  capitalism  materialsm  consumerism  consumption  values  objects  possessions  economics  restraint  boringness  ownership  credit  debt  potlatch 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Oslo bombing/Utoya shooting: SHUT UP about: type of gun used, Islam, if x had gun... - The Something Awful Forums
"In the safest, most boring country, the worst lone gunman shooting happens. The worst in the world, in history. But it will not make our country worse. The safe, boring democracy will supply him with a defense lawyer as is his right. He will not get more than 21 years in prison as is the maximum extent of the law. Our democracy does not allow for enough punishment to satisfy my need for revenge, as is its intention. We will not become worse, we will be better. We lived in a land where this is possible, even easy. And we will keep living in a land where this is possible, even easy. We are open, we are free and we are together. We are vulnerable by choice. And we will keep on like that, that's how we want to live. We will not be worse because of the worst. We must be good because of the best."<br />
<br />
[via: http://tobia.tumblr.com/post/7987038256/in-the-safest-most-boring-country-the-worst-lone ]
norway  democracy  peace  freedom  vulnerability  2011  punishment  crime  utoya  revenge  openness  living  life  well-being  safety  boringness 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Everything is Interesting - Aphorisms and Paradoxes
"Paging through an accounting textbook, walking past a wig shop, or listening to a lecture on early American basket-making, I never say "that is uninteresting" but rather "I am uninterested", for it is always more reasonable to assume that I fail to see what is there than that devotees see what is not there. I love to hear of people devoting their lives to pursuits that sound dull to me, for I know that their enthusiasm is right and my boredom is wrong, and I am happy for the rebuke. I convert my specific boredoms into general fascination with passion's possibilities, reflecting that, under altered alignments of choice and chance, I might have given my days to different causes. There is more worth loving than we have strength to love.

A foolish trope of modernity is that experience leads to disenchantment and ennui. Boredom with life does not result from exhausting life's riches, but from skimming them. Nothing is boring, except people who are bored."
boredom  brianjaystanley  interesting  interestingness  interested  toshare  boring  boringness  details  ignorance  love  interestedness 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Flavorwire » In Praise of “Boring” Films
"“Long movies,” Dargis writes, “take time away even as they restore a sense of duration, of time and life passing, that most movies try to obscure through continuity editing. Faced with duration not distraction, your mind may wander, but there’s no need for panic: it will come back. In wandering there can be revelation as you meditate, trance out, bliss out, luxuriate in your thoughts, think.”"
boredom  boring  boringness  film  via:rushtheiceberg  towatch  lists  slow  distraction  wanderingmind 
june 2011 by robertogreco
‘The Pale King’ by David Foster Wallace - Book Review - NYTimes.com
"Told in fragmented, strobe-lighted chapters that depict an assortment of misfits, outsiders & eccentrics, the novel sometimes feels like the TV show “The Office” as rewritten with a magnifying glass by Nicholson Baker."

"In this, his most emotionally immediate work, Wallace is on intimate terms with the difficulty of navigating daily life, & he conjures states of mind with the same sorcery he brings to pictorial description. He conveys the gut deep sadness people experience when “the wing of despair” passes over their lives, & the panic of being a fish “thrashing in the nets” of one’s own obligations, stuck in a miserable job & needing to “cover the monthly nut.”"

"This novel reminds us what a remarkable observer Wallace was — a first-class “noticer,” to use a Saul Bellow term, of the muchness of the world around him, chronicling the overwhelming data and demands that we are pelted with, second by second, minute by minute, and the protean, overstuffed landscape we dwell in."
davidfosterwallace  via:lukeneff  thepaleking  noticing  observation  boredom  boring  boringness  novels  books  2011  michikokakutani  infinitejest 
april 2011 by robertogreco
How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) - Austin Kleon
"All advice is autobiographical.

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past. This list is me talking to a previous version of myself.

Your mileage may vary…

1. Steal like an artist… 2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things…  3. Write the book you want to read… 4. Use your hands… 5. Side projects and hobbies are important… 6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it… 7. Geography is no longer our master… 8. Be nice. The world is a small town… 9. Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done… 10. Creativity is subtraction…"
glvo  howto  wisdom  austinkleon  design  creativity  writing  work  howwework  calendars  routine  life  kindness  invention  make  making  do  doing  geography  location  boring  boringness  sharing  cv  projects  sideprojects  hobbies  manual  starting  via:steelemaley 
april 2011 by robertogreco
being boring (14 Jan., 2011, at Interconnected)
"For me, writing seems to be a muscle. W/out doing it regularly, I feel I've lost my ability to express cogently complex ideas in interesting ways.

…because I haven't been regularly talking about the ideas that interest me, I've not given myself the time to reduce down those ideas into pithy, understandable statements.

Writing seems to be associated w/ my sense of pattern recognition. I'm missing the structures of abstraction it gives me, & the room for wiggly play I get while I do it.

So I'm trying to start writing regularly again. It's frustrating & a bloody pain. I feel incapable of expressing what I mean to say. There's no glitter to my words, & I have to force them out. I can see everything that's wrong with what I write. I don't like the structure, but improving it doesn't come naturally because I don't know what to do… There are no insights. I can't start or end things. I don't even sound like me. I'm boring. Okay, fine, do it anyway."
mattwebb  writing  classideas  cv  boring  boringness  thinking  reflection  criticalthinking  habit  flow  insight  ideas  2011 
january 2011 by robertogreco
IDSA Western District - Wendy March on Being Boring - "Drawing on several years of investigation into way people use technology in India, Brazil, China & dozens..."
"...of other disparate environments...focused not on exciting & cutting-edge, but on ordinary."We keep trying to make things seamless and easy," observed March about this discovery, "but maybe people don't want it to be seamless and easy."
easiness  boringness  boiring  seamlessness  technology  wendymarch  research  ethnography  anthropology  user  experience  ux  seams 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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