Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Does this make me look weird?"

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”- Albert Einstein

john paul blanchette
Proud to be different.
A co-worker friend of mine showed me a photo of himself on Facebook a few years back. He asked me "Does this make me look weird?". I told him not to worry and to just be himself. He wasn't comfortable with that and deleted the photo. I find it no coincidence that he was single at the time and shopping around for a girlfriend. No way he was going to risk putting a photo like that online while he's single. He couldn't risk looking different. In the photo, he was being hugged by a bunch of his friends so his face was contorted by all the people hugging him. It was flattering, in my opinion. I've thought about this for years and years. I still think it is very sad that he had to delete that photo. He couldn't look "weird". He couldn't look different. He had to fit in. He had to look normal. He had to look regular. He had to do what everyone else does. As an artist, this goes against deep beliefs of mine. Beliefs that people should shine out as individuals. Why do we have unique fingerprints? Being different is the most natural thing to do! Yet people spend so much time and money on being like everyone else.

Advertisers are counting on you to do what everyone is doing. You know how we see groups of people using products or services in commercials? There's a reason for this. It could be anything. Tacos, cars, cell phones, car insurance, etc. The clever advertisers have realized that including people using the product has a powerful psychological effect on the viewer. We seem to be hard-wired to accept things when we see others using the product. It's called "social proof". The brain short-cut interprets that the product the group is using will probably be beneficial to their survival. In other words, when we see a bunch of people eating Triple-Jumbo Bacon Fries, it MUST be good for us. It seems that our ancient brain interprets doing things everyone else is doing as beneficial to our survival.

If anything, I pride myself in being different. Looking different,  talking different,  acting different, and trying hard not to fit in. I believe that it says a lot about someones strength of character to be able to be different. Someone once said to me "You are my favorite artist." I sure as hell didn't get that complement because I'm like everyone else. My art isn't hanging in people's homes nationwide because I'm like everyone else. So I challenge you, my dear dear readers. I challenge you to post those "weird" photos.

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