Monday, March 19, 2012

Mark Potter: Be An Original

Another thoughtful post by Canvas Publisher Mark Potter.  Be sure to follow him on Twitter @markricepotter.

I was driving up to Nashville last week to visit with a client and attend a conference.  On the ride up, I was jamming to some classic rock.  I'm talking about iconic bands like Led Zeppelin, The Stones, AC/DC, and Journey.  I swear I sounded just like Steve Perry when I was singing "Just a small town boy...Living in South Detroit". 

As other drivers chuckled at this 40-something acting like a complete dork, I couldn't help wonder what made these bands iconic.  They have stood the test of time. In fact, many of the kids today know the words better than I do and wear t-shirts with the bands’ logo on the front.

So, what gives?  Why have these bands become iconic? I can't think of any band in the last 10 years that has become more than a passing thought.  My opinion is that there was and continues to be an aura around groups like Led Zeppelin.  People talk about seeing them in concert like it was an event that changed their lives.  Millions of us never saw them and have to picture what it was like in our minds.  There was mystery to the group and we actually had to use our imagination to think about how cool they really were.

Seeing them in concert or hearing their songs conjures up images that become bigger in our mind than they may have actually been.  Think about it, there was a time when someone could tell a story and embellish it with some half-truths to make it a bit more entertaining.   Today, people can't take those liberties.  The ability to validate facts at a moment's notice doesn't allow a little creative leeway.

The immediacy of the Internet and all of the corresponding media has diluted our imagination, while simultaneously killing the mystery of who we are.  The great rock bands of yesteryear may just be great because of the lack of exposure they received and the mystery that the absence creates.  Today, the fact that even the most meaningless piece of information receives constant and immediate exposure makes them less and less interesting.

Take back your mystique.  Just because everyone else is doing something, doesn't mean we have to. 
Stop tweeting every 10 minutes.  It is boring and generic.  In contrast, why not try to be an original?  Rather than pumping out social drivel and creating a tune that becomes played, why not say something when you have something relevant to say?  Stay true to who you are and keep some of it for yourself.  That is what is cool.  That is being an original.

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