How We're Losing Our Signal (and Drowning In Noise)

Everybody’s talking at me, I don’t hear what they’re saying, only the echoes of my mind.
— Harry Nilsson

Ivan here. 

I’ve got a question: how did you get here? Can you recall the last five things you read online? The last three things? Okay, let’s make this easy: what was the last thing you read before you decided to drop by The Origami Life

Nine times out of ten, I wouldn’t even know the answer to my own question. Isn’t that odd? Our ability to absorb so much, while retaining so little. With the compendium of human knowledge at our fingertips today, even the dimmest bulb in our shed (when armed with the power of the Google and the iPhone) can shine like a beacon among the Newtons and Einsteins in their day.

Yet, most things we come across barely graze the membrane of our lives. 

And if that’s the case, why do I feel so tired? 

1. Choose What To Value

The internet is a tragedy of the commons all over again. Like plastic in our oceans, carbon in our atmosphere, and pee in our pools, freedom comes with negative externalities: noise. 

Have you ever been in one of those fruitless conversations where it seems like everyone is just waiting their turn to speak? That’s the internet right now. Online publishing is broken because we can no longer put a value on what we consume. Why? Because we don't remember and we’re not really listening. Everyone is just waiting for their turn to speak. And the less we feel we're being heard, the louder we scream. 

2. Ignore the False Narratives

How to be rich. How to be successful. How to be skinny. How to be popular. How to be happy. 10 things that make us go: Lol. Wtf. Omg. Cute. 5 things that may shock us, scare us, anger us, disgust us.

Put on your nostalgia glasses, and allow yourself to be carried back to a time when you were still young and innocent, when life was perfect and you were loved.

Watch this adorable animal act like a human being. Isn't that precious? Now watch this human being act like an animal. Did he have it coming? 

Of course, none of it is real. False narratives make the world seem easy and predictable, demanding so little of us and changing absolutely nothing. 

3. REfuse to Take the Easy Route

No matter where I turn, everyone is talking about the exact same thing. From “highbrow” publications like The New Yorker and McSweeney’s,  to “lowbrow” outlets like Buzzfeed and A sudden onset of groupthink.

Complex and important issues deserve more than our satire and opinion. Cleverness over a keyboard is easy. If these writers really stood for anything , then why would they be seeking our laughs and approval so desperately? 

At The Origami Life, we think beliefs are cheap; actionable steps to improving the way we invest our time and money is the work of a lifetime, one which will ultimately reflect who we are. 

4. Create YOur Own Rules

My work had nothing to recommend it except my growing technical skill, enthusiasm for my subject, and independence of popular notions.
— Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

This isn’t one of those preachy posts telling you to delete Facebook or pull a Thoreau by decamping to the wilderness. It's about encouraging people to step back from this madness and start by creating a world they themselves would want to live in. By September 2018, Jennie and I want to go away on a search for the signals within the noise and to do our best to record our findings. In doing so, maybe we can build a world of our own, with our own rules, one that still feels real and true in this make-believe world. 

5. Figure Out what Money and Freedom Means To You

I suppose it depends on what meaning you attach to life, the claim which you acknowledge to society, and the claim of the individual
— W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

What does money mean? To us, money is a value system, freedom a philosophy, and investing the last liberal art. 

How can people live with less? How should we respond to prosperity and adversity? How should we prioritize the important things? To what extent should we give in to others versus staying true to ourselves?  How do we live a life without regrets? 

Every dollar is a glimpse into human nature and how we value our lives.  Much like how this blog is a glimpse into the life Jennie and I want to build and the world we want to share with our readers. 

We hope you’ll remember us.