We all remember it.
Advertising Age included it in the top 50 greatest commercials of all time. Who knows how many children were spurred into “creative careers” as a result of seeing it on television during the Superbowl commercials.
This is of course the 1984 ad for the Apple computer. Its message was heroic — Apple saves humanity from the slow death of conformity. But, like all “Visions” things can get lost in translation.
Why we loved it…
There is something in the human DNA that responds to three impulses — the need to be creative, the need to be free, and the need to connect.
You could say these are the callings of our future selves beckoning us to move forward in our evolution.
If this was a game, these attractive, exciting and interesting scenarios, would be on Level 2. However, we are currently on Level 1, therefore the way we interpret these longings is as follows…
- The need to look creative (“I don’t have an ordinary job, I must have a job that makes me cool and recognises how special I am”).
- The need to look free (“I don’t actually have a job, I have a laptop, here’s a selfie of me on top of some mountain looking free and fabulous”)
- The need to look connected (“I don’t have time for actual friends because I’m so busy serving my audience and building my following on twitter”)
Level 1 is all about identity. If everything is made of waves and particles; energy and matter, then Level 1 is definitely all about the particles. Level 2 is about the waves, about what new thing we can create out of the infinite potential contained in each new moment. It’s about being… it’s about a feeling.
So let’s see how Chiat Day’s Vision of Possibility played out at Level One.
The personal computer didn’t smash up Big Brother and liberate us, it enslaved us. Our smart phone is now Big Brother — it knows where we are, what we do, when we do it, who we do it with and what we like to buy. It controls our every waking moment.Like lab rats, we are willing slaves to the little dopamine hits it provides with each ping. It’s just not called Big Brother, it’s called Big Data.
So this would be a fail. Game over. Start again. Refresh the screen.
Corporations, charities and politicians all love to talk about the Future, but perhaps it would be a better idea to re-engineer the humans before we go for any more Level 2 visions. Then they’d have an actual chance of succeeding. This would require a basic understanding of identity versus energy — learning to understand and direct the energy, so that we can create better things, rather than moaning about the rubbish particles we seem to be surrounded by.
(As a side bar, one of the popular mantras of the Internet Age was “Make money while you sleep!” Unfortunately when we look at the world today, it does look like we created it in our sleep.)
What we’re really hungry for… Creativity. Freedom. Connectivity.
True Creativity isn’t an identity, it’s a feeling. It’s what occurs naturally when we get ourselves out of the way. If we don’t get more comfortable with the feeling of it, we’ll go for counterfeit creativity — the kind of creativity we can control.
The purpose of identity is to win. In order to win we have to make a comparison — “I’m better than you, so I win” “He’s better than me, I lose…but I’ll win next time”. The desire to win creates energy (good) but it’s adrenaline energy so only works at Level 1. Adrenaline isn’t sustainable so can easily lead to burn out.
Level 2 requires us to swop “special” for “unique”. It’s the same but different. It’s kind of special, but without the necessity of someone else having to lose. We’re co-creative, which means our job is to show up and allow the creativity to come through, without putting endless caveats on it. (“Does my ego look big in this creativity?”)
True Freedom isn’t an identity, it’s a feeling. A feeling that’s only available in the present moment. Because we love control, we go for counterfeit freedom — the kind we can capture in a photograph and relive later. We prefer to live in the nostalgia of the past and the fantasy of the future, rather than inhabit the present moment that refuses to be contained or trapped.
Nelson Mandela knew this. On Level 1 he was imprisoned, but he chose to live at Level 2 where he was completely free. This type of behaviour either confuses, impresses or drives your captors crazy.
Level 2 requires us to be fully present. Quite often the thing we are searching for is us; the thing we feel is missing is us; the reason we don’t quite feel as if we are fully here is because we aren’t.
True Connection isn’t an identity, it’s a feeling. Unfortunately (because we’ve projected the bits of our energy that we can’t manage) it comes with some difficult feelings that have to be navigated. Standing in front of the portal to Level 2 are the sentries of boredom and neediness. One has no energy and the other has the kind of energy we want to kill (or kill ourselves rather than face).
Without ninja energy skills we stay at Level One where we love “new and different”. New and different creates energy (good) but it’s Level One energy which, like adrenaline, isn’t very sustainable.
It doesn’t matter whether our relationship is with a person, a job, or a handbag, the timeline for “new and different” gets shorter and shorter, which can lead to credit card disaster, a CV full of holes and no-one to hold your hand when you’re dying (though a thousand people might tune in to the event on Facebook live).
So, as in the Hunger Games — celluloid version — we need to develop some skills. Not archery (though obviously that looks seriously impressive) but things like…
Letting go of control (There’s a “co” in our creativity. The “energy” is our co-creative partner. Let’s have a bit more humility in this regard).
Being present (We must conquer the fear of what Now will bring without the relentless busyness and slavish devotion to our own agenda).
Becoming a better vessel for energy — understanding it, expanding our capacity to feel it and learning to direct it. Taking action with the right kind of energy behind our choices creates major change.
As a lifestyle choice, narcissism should have reached its zenith with the inauguration of Donald Trump. Identity is very compelling to watch, but it isn’t cool anymore. It’s so Level One.
The New Hunger Games… Let’s stop gorging on old paradigm junk and start feeding our creativity.
It’s not the look of love, it’s, well … love, which is a very small word for a very big idea.