Ways We Innovate: Go Offline And Make

I love Maker Faire – in fact, I’m a big fan of the whole Maker movement. Now, its gone through a few iterations, but I think that the urge to make stuff, to build things, to do things with our hands, is something that’s embedded in all of our natures. We have this amazing ability to CREATE, but in a lot of us, we haven’t had the chance to do it. We used to do it a lot when we were kids, LEGO, Play-Doh, Meccano¬†or Erector Sets. We created all sorts of stuff.

Now I’m lucky, in my role, I get to create, or help others create, nearly every day. There is nothing like the act of creation (although I do remember once some pious fella telling me once that “only God can create” – but personally I believe we were all built to create.)

We may be wired to create, but the very act of creation takes work. It takes energy. And I find that in day-to-day living, a lot of people have trouble creating, because they spend most of their time consuming. It’s so EASY to consume! It takes no energy whatsoever – in fact, scrolling through your Facebook stream and tapping a like (and maybe a reaction here and there) is the modern day equivalent of sitting on the couch, eating bon-bons, and surfing channels. Even that super light touch of liking something is barely a reaction. There is literally so much, that you will never be able to consume everything, and most of the time, the feed that you are getting, are probably fairly irrelevant to you. And if you’re subject to FOMO, we’ll then forget it – it’s an impossible task – you will miss out on something.

How can you find time to create?

I read an interesting article in my new favorite magazine, The New Philosopher. In this article, they discussed an experiment where they took college students from all over the world and asked them to go offline for 24 hours. No internet, no smartphone, nothing. No access to anything. The reactions ranged from total catatonia – one of the students basically went to bed and stayed there for 24 hours because there was literally “nothing to do” without his connection to the internet, to withdrawal symptoms on par with illegal drug use – many of the students never made it a whole day – after a few hours they just had to boot up their phones again. What were these students doing? They were literally addicted to the connection to others and the consumption of content. While this is probably further evidence that we really have now become Homo Nexus, it gave me another idea.

While the researchers in this study had told the students had told the students what not to do “use their phones or connect to the internet” – they hadn’t told the student what to do – therefore driving them to give up or enter some kind of catatonic state. But what if the researchers had instead said:

Create something.

Draw something, build something, record¬†something, video something or even write something. Just don’t get on the internet. If you need to connect with people – do it in person – but just create. Express yourself! Disconnect yourself from the ever flowing flood of content, good and bad, from every source. Once you’ve done that – look inside. Look inside yourself for that spark of creativity. That internal flame of creation – of good ideas – unvarnished by the flow of the world into your brain.

You see, your brain has absorbed so much, that now it’s time to give back. Stop the flow into your brain and start the flow out of your brain. Try this at home – disconnect yourself from the world and when you feel bored, just create. Doesn’t matter what it is, just make something! I’ll bet you won’t believe what you come up with.

24 hours later – feel free to get back online and tell the world. But until then, let your brain create.