Facebook is making us boring.

Our perpetual digital connectivity has warped our minds into believing that others are hanging on our every word… even when those words are all about our allergies, our retail woes, our opinions about pop culture, politics, and other inanities.

In other words, the very stories we’d avoid if they were being told at a family reunion are the same things we feel obliged to share online, every day, in the hope of receiving a few likes or comments from people we vaguely know, like a shot of adrenaline in our otherwise mundane lives.

The Internet is becoming a vicious cycle of boring people boring each other, and it has to stop before future generations think we did this on purpose.

Here’s how we can fix it.

You’re Not That Interesting… But You Could Be

When’s the last time someone asked you “What’s new?” and your response wasn’t “Nothing”?

Does that bother you?

If it does, then I’m going to presume that you actually want to live an interesting life (and not the proverbial Chinese meaning of “interesting,” either). Here are eight things you could do differently that would create new opportunities to live an interesting life, instead of the one you’re currently stuck in.

* Start telling people what you really think of them. This will immediately make every conversation you have more interesting.

* Confess something. Not the fact that you’ve never seen The Wire, or your undying love of the Backstreet Boys. Something that matters. Something that might change your relationships with other people. (You’d be surprised how many people read about my freelance struggles and use that knowledge to bridge a communication gap between us.)

* Do something amazing, and don’t tell anyone about it until you’re done. I know you have dreams. Everybody does. Telling me that you intend to do X is nowhere near as interesting as surprising me with the announcement that you’ve spent the past 12 months becoming an entrepreneur, a licensed massage therapist or a cage fighter. Your dreams themselves aren’t necessarily interesting, but the ways you achieve them are. Go do something.

* Befriend “The Other.” You know who else is a lot like you, and you know who isn’t. That second group is the one you normally avoid because they’re different. So go play with them for awhile. See what they’re really like. Try to understand why they think and behave the way they do. You may never see eye to eye, but you may see yourselves as companions instead of competitors.

* Handicap yourself. Has your life been too predictable lately? Give yourself a problem: empty your bank account, reformat your computer, lock your keys in your car. Is this the smartest thing you could do? No, but it does create conflict, and that’s what powers any narrative. (And your life is a narrative, isn’t it?) Plus, teaching yourself to overcome invented obstacles makes it easier to handle life’s unexpected roadblocks when you come across them in the wild.

* Start a relationship. If you’re single, you probably don’t want to be. While you’re waiting for the perfect match, go have a good time with someone else. It might surprise you and end up lasting.

* Quit your job. No nest egg? No parachute? No planning? Go for it. Just walk in tomorrow and quit. In the short term, you’ll probably be fucked. In a decade, you’ll have one hell of a comeback story.

* Move. How long have you lived where you are? Go someplace else. Maybe across town. Maybe across the country. Or maybe you and your roommate should just switch rooms for a week and see what that’s like. A change of scenery sparks ideas; a change of residence sparks opportunities.

WARNING: These suggestions are not legal advice, nor should they be construed as “fate” telling you to do what you’ve always meant to do but never did. I take no responsibility for your actions, nor will I take any credit for you finally having something to Facebook about other than how they never refill the hand soap at your local Taco Bell.

But you’re welcome.

And if you don’t feel compelled to live a more interesting life, congratulations: either you’ve already found inner peace and contentment (and you should be writing a blog about it, not reading this one) or you’re emotionally dead inside, and you should subscribe to another on-demand video service because you have that kind of time. Maybe find one that has The Wire.


24 Comments

michaelsorg · April 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I’ve struggled with the problem of “purpose” for my blog until more recently when I decided to position it as a place of exposition for my projects and experiences. Maybe along the “quit your job” phylosophy, you know I recently did a similar move to part time, then quitting, and taking on scores of interesting projects in the meantime, and tackling new and exciting issues in video editing/filming/podcasting. I’m hoping to make my blog more interesting from my need to make my life more interesting and conveying that. It’s a very s art time for most with the job market, and I hope that helps those interested in this sort of field and maybe sparks some conversation.n

Justin Kownacki · April 13, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Wanting an interesting life is the first step toward living one.rnrnI probably should have also included “surround yourself withrninteresting people.” It’s harder to create adventures when you’re thernmost interesting person you know, surrounded by shrubbery.

michaelsorg · April 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Have you talked the shrubs lately? The issues going on right now…nnBut your right about the “surround yourself” thought. But that’s more than just being interesting. I think it’s vital for all creatives, blogger, freelancer, etc. The best stuff comes from riffing with people at my diminishing day job that I’ve extended to relationships out of work and talking with people at networking and learning events. I often tell prospective career shifters to “just get out there” somehow and find the community doing what they want to do to that respect.

Traci · April 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Love it. Fun to read too.

BballWife · April 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Itu2019s a vicious cycle of boring people boring each other, and it has to stop before future generations think we did this on purpose.nu2026 LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! PASS it on!!

red_pen_mama · April 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I already live next to and have to have holidays with “the others” (i.e. my conservative in-laws). Do I really have to go read their blogs too?nnAs far as starting new relationships: that’s why I had three kids. And, yeah, sadly (or not, if you’re me), I blog about them.

Justin Kownacki · April 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Conservatives probably aren’t your only Others. Poke around.rnrnAs for blogging about the kids, I look forward to the day when kidsrnwhose parents DIDN’T blog about them as toddlers feel somehow lessrnloved because they weren’t media subjects from the day they were born.rn I give the general populace about 3 years before that becomes arnconcern. (“Tommy’s mom always blogs about HIM…”)

red_pen_mama · April 13, 2011 at 6:19 pm

to point one: you’re probably right.nnto point two: Don’t you know we mom bloggers are exploiting our children for fun and profit?? And that we ignore them in favor of our electronic gadgets? That being said, it’ll be more like 5 years for your scenario to play out.

Katrina R Miller-Fallick · April 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Oh, it’s a concern now. My eight year old is convinced I don’t love her because I didn’t make her the star of her own YouTube Channel.nnShe’s noticed that other moms blog about their kids, and I blog about code. And she’s VERY offended.

Katrina R Miller-Fallick · April 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I’ve discovered lately the fun to be had in trying something different. It IS interesting, and incredibly life affirming.nnI try and do one “different” think a week. Eat a food I thought I didn’t like, take ballet lessons, go to church. The key is to approach the “others” with an open heart and mind. It’s often hard, but VERY educational! And Interesting!

Justin Kownacki · April 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm

It makes sense to get as much out of life as possible while we can,rnright? Variety is the spice of life, both in the volume ofrnexperiences and the depths of each.rnrnI do think it helps to understand what KIND of “interesting” you’rernlooking for — the volume kind of the depth kind. Personally, I’m notrnaching to go skydiving or snorkeling, but I’ll happily sample as manyrncuisines and explore as many different kinds of architecture asrnpossible. But a healthy balance of volume & depth exploration seemsrnsensible, since you really can’t know what you may like (or not) untilrnyou sample it.

Andrea · April 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Good stuff. I tend to swing between writing too much (every day or nearly) and not enough (once or twice a week or less). I think I write too much to compensate for not writing enough (but never apologizing for not writing, that’s so Blogging 101).nnSome people can write about their day-to-day lives and maintain their readers, but I can’t. It feels fake to me. For the most part, my blog has evolved into more essay-style storytelling. Sometimes it is harder to find fodder (hence the one or twice a week posts), but it’s what works for me. I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind. Maybe not quit my job, but I’ll think of something.

Jason Yormark · April 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Great post and glad to see you’re back. I’ve struggled with blogging frequency myself, but I think it simply comes down to being at least one of two things, interesting or helpful. Anything I read online regularly needs to be interesting/entertaining, or provide me some sort of value in my professional or personal life. 90% of what’s out there rarely accomplishes either.

Justin Kownacki · April 14, 2011 at 8:50 pm

You’ve also been blessed with the rare ability to make everydayrnoccurrences SEEM like story-worthy events, mainly because you approachrnthem from either a highly personal or a richly associative (“x remindsrnme of y which taught me z”) POV. Not everyone should be allowed tornfill the blogosphere with their day-to-day doings, but if they everrnhand out licenses for such a craft, make sure you’re line for one.

Justin Kownacki · April 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I would agree [well, maybe 90% is a bit high], but why do you thinkrnthat is? Why are so many people unable to generate interesting orrnuseful material? Is it because doing so takes skill or insight orrnvulnerability or instincts or something else that’s uncommonlyrnintangible? Or is it because we’re oversupplying the blog world withrnundemanded content that rehashes the same done-to-death topics, simplyrnbecause we know they generate traffic and make us feel momentarilyrnloved? Are we overestimating the world’s need for yet another 10 TipsrnAbout Some Random Shit You Already Know?

Jason Yormark · April 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I think partly because the barrier to entry has become so low to launching a blog/website. Within a few clicks, practically anyone can be up and running, thus an influx of lesser quality content.nnNot everyone has a strong grasp of the written word, or the willingness to actually spend time developing compelling content. And even many that potentially do are often swayed by churning out content that’s sole purpose is eyeballs.

Justin Kownacki · April 14, 2011 at 10:18 pm

So we’ve misstated the value of blogging. We’ve overplayed the “getrnseen” part, and undersold the “be useful” aspect. Then again, I don’trnthink being useful comes naturally to most people, especially whenrngetting seen is SO CLOSE AT HAND.

Yadira · April 16, 2011 at 6:41 am

I love you

Huynh Tho · April 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I really want to quit my boring life and travel to somewhere else. But there are many things tied me up. I wish I could add some fresh air to my daily life :(

Justin Kownacki · April 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Is your problem based on time or money? If the problem is time, howrncan you find an extra 30 or 60 minutes a day to do something new andrnenjoyable? If the problem is money, how can you spend less or savernmore in order to save up for a short vacation? There are dozens ofrnsolutions to any problem, but the challenge is in finding one thatrnworks AND which isn’t even more frustrating than the problem you’rerntrying to solve. Good luck!

Prabu Rajasekaran · November 1, 2011 at 3:45 am

Man, this is the most awesome-freaking list of ways to be more interesting. Way to go, Justin.

Anna Ari · February 22, 2012 at 6:52 am

Hey Justin, this list is great! This will definitely make life more interesting :-D
For more ideas on what to do differently in life and make it more exiting I found the book “get out of your comfort zone” from sascha ballach very inspring.

The Power of Small Talk / Justin Kownacki · August 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

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