I feel strongly that in our society we don’t treat the recommendation with enough respect. Recommendations are like gifts that enrich our lives in ways in which previously we could not comprehend.
I give a lot of recommendations out to my friends. I consume a tremendous amount of content, books, music, podcasts. My desire to listen to a podcast or video while I do the washing up, or listen to music while I move from one place to another is every bit as strong as my urges to eat and drink. Which isn’t good I know. What’s so bad about silence?
But it does mean that due to the amount of content I’ve got through, I find loads of stuff which is tailor-made for the people I know.
If I encounter something that invigorates my brain enough, I send it over.
Opportunities- Consider how much content is in the world, ripe for you to obtain from your home at the touch of a few buttons. With the fraction of this billion, billion resources, we select our own completely unique paths of content. We navigate through the wilderness all on our own, consuming this berry, that berry, a bit of this fruit, a bit of that fruit. You’re going to go to some wonderful places, why not bring a friend with you? What better way to share a relationship with someone than to be journeymen through the unknown, sharing knowledge, laughs and perspectives along the way.
Drawbacks- Recommendations are like gifts of the mind, but they can be hard to get into. What if I’m busy with my job, wife and kids, I don’t have time to listen to a 4 hour Neil De Grasse Tyson babbling on (in what might as well be tongues) about particle physics? But podcasts are easy, you can listen to them while you’re in transit, music is even easier, you can listen to music in social situations. It’s the books where you have to put in the hard yards. Take Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker, for example. I’ve got that. It’s 600 pages long, it’s Biblically large, and it’s been unopened on my book case. I’m terrified of it. Thinking about it brings me stress. But think about what those 600 pages can offer me, think about where my mind is going to go, reading him. You’ve gotta dive in I’m afraid, the more work you put in, the more you get out.
I know that’s a cliche but it really is true. One thing I’ve discovered is that just a little bit of work in any area of life, a few press ups, the odd ten mile jog, making an effort to read a poem a week, writing a page or so about whatever is going on, it goes such a long way. The different between doing that stuff and doing nothing at all is absolutely enormous. So ask yourself when you’re at your lowest points, have you really made an effort to do the things you need to do? If not, then it’s time to do something, even though you couldn’t want to do it less at these times. This is where the challenge presents itself. Will you climb up the long, steep hill? Will you smash the wall? But anyway I have digressed, we shall return to our original business.
Hidden motives- You happen to stumble upon something you think is really cool. You send it to your friend so he can have it. How selfless and generous of you, right?
Nope, not always.
Maybe I’ve not really wanted to gift you, maybe I don’t even care if you like it. I just want you to associate that cool thing with the idea of me, or see how much of my time I’ve sacrificed, how skilful is my eye. I am merely signalling something I want you to think about me. We might not acknowledge it in our heads but it’s what’s going on, it’s how we have evolved, how our ancestors have survived.
We have hidden motives to look cool . There are times when I’ve discovered a mix from an artist I’m highly invested in, and I’ve sent it over before I’ve even finished the first ten minutes. My friends have done it too. This is an example of a hidden motive that propels an individual’s actions without their knowing what they are doing. The same way that when people post photos of themselves in fancy global locations they won’t admit it, but they’re blatantly trying to signal their own mental well being, affluence, and cosmopolitan tastes. What they aren’t thinking is hmmm this is a nice photo my friends will enjoy seeing.
Remember the material is king. It should never be used as a vehicle to enhance your own reputation.
Warnings- Don’t keep stuff to yourself, don’t be tight, it’s not fair.
Don’t ignore recommendations because you have no idea what they are and what they might do for you personally.
We’re all in the dark, and there’s so much light to be had out there, so many glowing and dazzling contributions to the world from the world’s greatest minds.
Discovering them and devouring them is one of the most enjoyable and edifying experiences our brains allow us to do.
Now go forth, and recommend, my children, recommend until you are blue in the face.