Social networks are here to stay. (And they tell us a lot about us).
I had my first experience with Pinterest recently. It was an oddly compelling experience—and it makes me think about human nature.
First: Whether out of necessity, or brilliance, Pinterest requires a Pinterest invitation request in advance (at least at the time of this writing). After submitting a request—and waiting for a day—I was invited.
Human Nature Lesson (Reminder): We want what we can’t have.
Interest: Pinterest asks about your interest areas—such as architecture, food, etc. After clicking your categories, Pinterest suddenly presents you new (and existing) friends who are interested in similar things. Insto-presto, I felt validated.
Human Nature Observation #1: We all want to be part of a tribe—and we all want to be accepted.
Imagery: There are many things that move human beings: the sound of music, a tender touch, or the taste of cinnamon. Then there are images. They move us, indeed.
I felt the reflection of humanity in an instant. Sure, in many cases, there were consumer products, pretty clothes and other images of “stuff”. Not necessarily “humanity” one might say. Then again, we are what we put out there.
Then I realized that each image had a person attached to it. In essence, each of them was saying, “Hi, I’d like to share this with you”.
Adage Confirmation: I heard it said, “Pinterest is Tumblr for people who can’t write”. Maybe. But I know this: A picture can indeed be worth a thousand words. I felt like I was able to get a “feel” for who people were in an instant—more than with any other social networking experience.
In one case, I think I even learned how to “see” in a certain way. I saw through the eyes of an architect. I didn’t just see the designs this particular woman creates, but rather, I saw what she saw, and thus saw what inspires and informs her designs.
I found myself instantly compelled to “pin” or “re-pin” images. I was a kid again, “Mommy, Mommy…Look, look! There’s a tree. Look, look. It’s a bird!”
Human Nature Observation #2: We’re constantly hungry for discovery—and we’re dying to share what we discover—with others.
It didn’t take long for me to decide what categories interested me. Architecture, Tech, Science, Places and Design were a few that I clicked. In life, we tend to agonize, “Who am I? What am I about? What am I meant to do?”
Likely Fact: Deep down, we probably know who we are. At least we “know” what interests us. We should listen to ourselves.
Wild fire: From nowhere, this image-bookmarking site goes from nobody to millions—in no time. In the U.S. alone, there were 18.7 million unique visitors in March, 2012. In spite of the millions, it still feels personal. The welcome letter remains in first-person: “I’m excited to invite you to join Pinterest, a social catalog. I can’t wait to have you join our little community—Ben & the Pinterest Team”
Human Nature Observation #3: Things happen fast in the 21st century. You too can make things happen quickly—and with scale.
I was reminded of the power of the era in which we live. Have an interest, product or project to change the world? No problem, you can go from “zero to 60” in four seconds.
Assertion: We can, in fact, change the world for the better, together—especially with the “cognitive surplus” we possess and the tools we now have at our fingertips.
Clay Shirky’s book “Cognitive Surplus—Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age” points to brain research showing that we’re naturally more prone to share, connect and support each other than we are to acquire, consume and take from each other.
More than we might think.
Craig & Sue James began their entrepreneurial life in 2001, after having spent years in corporate America. As entrepreneurs, writers and thinkers, the work continues to morph and evolve. The journey thus far has taught them that they must grant themselves the permission to play, explore, discover, learn, create and share. Each life on this beautiful blue marble, called Earth is important. Their work is to help others live life consciously, with clarity and choice. You can find them at SmartSimpleMobile.com.
Editor: Andrea B.