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The White Whale Jumps the Shark

I left to go hiking in the Pacific northwest on 9/10, one day after the annual Apple unveiling, one day before the anniversary of 9/11. This day between one of the triggers of overconsumption and one of the reminders of everything we already have got me thinking: We as a society need to be rethinking. Everything.

Let’s start with the pencil. The Apple Pencil.

Are Steve Jobs’ haunting words, “If you see a stylus, they blew it” a harbinger for the brand? For our culture? Maybe.

I ponder the perception that everything Apple makes is superior and Google (verb) “Best Pencil.” The folks over at Blackwing boast: “It’s not just a pencil, it’s an experience.”

(Wow! I like to write all “old school” so this is clearly the pencil for me. I find myself wondering what I’ll experience once I buy one.) Back to Google (noun).

Wait! I get distracted by the logo. It’s a horse, a very specific kind of horse. a Palomino.

I begin to wonder what attributes of the Palomino will be transferred to the pencil and to my experience. Will I write faster because horses are fast? I Google (verb) furiously, excited to learn as much as I can about the Palomino (the horse, not the 1964 Ford).

The Palomino is a coat color in horses with a white mane and tail. Hmmm.

#nothelpful. The pencil is grey. #deadend.

What about Blackwing? What does that mean? Surely that will provide some clues as to the experience I will have when writing with one!

The best I can come up with is the fact that Blackwing is the name of two fictional Marvel Comics supervillains, and one hero, which I find weird. (Why would a supervillain and a hero share the same name?) I stop the futile search for meaning lest I wind up in the wormhole that is the InterWeb. And I am now off topic…

But, this is what happens as we search for the next “thing” and try to create meaning from it, for it, with it. It reminded me of a quote I read recently from Pope Francis:

This quick trip to Wonderland, sparked by Apple News combined with the remembrance of news past, reminds me how important it is to reframe how we see the world - “with new eyes” as Proust would have us do. (Hence the hiking trip.)

Why are we so quick to adapt to the new normal, all while the time to adjust (and the exhilaration) becomes shorter and shorter with each new thing?

I look up from my laptop to think about that. “Tomorrowland” is playing on the inflight TV.

I plug into the armrest just in time to catch Hugh Laurie’s American-accented swan song:

“To save civilization, I would show its collapse…How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate éclair! They didn’t fear their demise, they repackaged it. It could be enjoyed as video games, as TV shows, books, movies, the entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse and sprinting towards it with gleeful abandon. Meanwhile your earth was crumbling around you. You’ve got simultaneous epics of obesity and starvation…You dwell on this terrible future and you resign yourselves to it for one reason, because that future doesn’t ask anything of you today…”

So, as I write the inaugural post for #WISEUP, it redoubles my commitment to study human behavior, to decode the irrational decisions people make as they consider, buy, and advocate for brands, products, and services that they believe will make their lives better. In doing so, maybe I’ll understand how to make the world a little better too.

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