Seeking Originality in a Distracted World. 

Everything unbiased, uncommodified, empowering. This blog is about reclaiming originality in an environment that constantly directs us to adopt prepared formulas. Exploring a meaningful, modern lifestyle while unplugging from commercialized culture and manufactured taste. 

In the Media

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Thursday
Aug042011

You are not stuck in Traffic, You are Traffic.

Image via http://dmcclain.tumblr.com & Iqbal

Friday
Jul292011

Table Cloth and Fresh Flowers

Photo: unchainyourlifestyleSigns of life can be subtleTake this restaurant for instance. Flowers and clean sheets on dining tables are probably not the most efficient or profitable gastronomic decision. However, they look and feel nice and it's reassuring to know that there is a human owner who personally cares about this. Attention to detail is a sign of life.

Monday
Jul112011

Knowing your Personal Story

Photo: theinspirationroom.comKnowing your personal storyMany brands are not selling a product but want us to buy into a larger narrative or "emotional space". Managers of the famous soda company will vehemently insist that they don't sell beverages but "happiness in a can". Are you "Coca Cola happy" or do you still know what happiness really means to you? If Marshall McLuhan's quote "violence is the quest for identity" holds true, commercial culture is at war with you, for your identity, your originality, your history. Know your personal story and use it to reject cliches.

Monday
Jun202011

The Magic Aura of a Historic Home 

Image: porter-translation.deAn aura is elusive and impossible to manufacture. Places have it or they don't. An atmosphere depends on so many elements, the personalities involved, the character of the space, the urban environment, history. A friend of mine bought a slightly run-down medieval house, a former tavern in the historic center of Luebeck. The historic pub was located just inside the ancient city walls feeding medieval merchants. He moved there and successfully renovated the building over the past years to make it his family home. The result is not only a tasteful residence and office but a place with a genuine character. I was imagining historic tavern guests with their respective stories passing through this very place for centuries - their invisible presence giving this house a special, added dimension. Maybe something we call soul.

Thursday
May262011

Confirming our own Beliefs in the Information we seek

Image: Dark KnightConfirmation Bias is a way of reinforcing our beliefs in the information we seek, it is a human tendency to favor information that confirms our preconceptions. The consequence is that we end up in a bubble that only contains information we want to hear. Powerful people such as Emperors, Statesmen or CEOs are subject to information bias because subordinates are afraid of delivering bad news, resulting in reality detachment and bad decisions. Today, information is a product and we, the customers are "king": American TV viewers can choose news tailored to their political flavor, reinforcing policital views instead of introducing discourse. Internet destinations such as Google, Amazon, Netflix, LastFM, Facebook etc. use algorythms to personalize content according to profile information and will suggest more of the same based on the little they know about us, an effect named "Filter Bubble" by @elipariser. Although it may be labeled as "freedom of choice" personalization is really a form of tailored monoculture. In ancient times it was left to the Harlekins (Jokers) to show emperors the mirror. Today, it's on ourselves to burst our bubble and keep on challenging assumptions. 

Friday
May132011

Why religious traditions matter

Image: Dome CologneWhy should we keep old traditions? Important religious holidays require a contemplative state of mind - many countries pose restrictions on public life during key religious dates. For instance, German law forbids bars and restaurants to play music on Good Friday in order to facilitate a quiet atmosphere. Since Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ it is a sober day that has a deep meaning to Christians. The legally imposed so-called "quiet Friday" was interrupted by a large "Dance-Flashmob" protesting for a repeal of the law by staging a party in the city center of Frankfurt. I genuinely have sympathy for civil liberties and I am not religious but that day it dawned on me that our traditions are really under a lot of pressure. For the sake of convenience or freedom we readily dispose of the longstanding and meaningful and replace it with what? Another day of shopping.
Monday
May022011

Memorable Live Performances

Image: StefanLive performances empower talent, empower audiences, are unpredictable, explorative and rewarding for everyone involved. We hardly remember what we watched on TV yesterday, but live performances we attend, especially the ones in small venues are there to last in our memories.  

unchain my heart joe cocker

Saturday
Apr162011

A Meal in the Countryside

 

Photo: CC

 

Saturday
Apr092011

Making "None of the Above" the Default Choice

Too many people choose not to choose, by default allowing decisions to be made for them. They go through life trying to avoid risk, and that often means avoiding decisions (from 'avoid decisions, avoid life' by Jeff Stibel). Mindless decision-making makes us more likely to accept the recommended "default" option which is generally not designed to your interest. When you register online the "marketing newsletter" option is usually pre-checked, a fast-food meal usually makes soda and fries standard, telephone companies pre-select high roaming charges for you, not to mention pre-set bank privacy settings, also many waiters relying on tips like to recommend the most expensive "specials" to you. Let's make "None of the above" the new default choice.Options

Saturday
Apr092011

Why makes us Distracted?

Artist: Drazenka KimpelThere are a few recurring temtations in our daily routine that - if we don't pay attention - have the power to gradually drift us into the formulated life. Let's be mindful of our daily decisionmaking and challenge the traps. 

Mindlessness
"Too many people choose not to choose, by default allowing decisions to be made for them. They go through life trying to avoid risk, and that often means avoiding decisions" (from 'avoid decisions, avoid life'by Jeff Stibel). Mindless decision-making makes us more likely to accept the recommended "default" option which is generally not designed to your interest. If you sign-up online the "newsletter" option is usually pre-checked, a fast-food meal ususally defaults on cheap and unhealthy soda and fries, the telephone company will pre-select high roaming charges for you, not to mention insurance, rental or loan forms, also many waiters living on tips like to recommend the most expensive "speclals". Make "None of the above" your new default. Take matters into your own hands, pay attention, be curious.

Passivenss
Almost every single choice during the day can be framed as a vote of activation vs. passiveness. Seeking inspiration, exploration, participation and creativity in every single decision is key. The decision to watch TV for instance is not only immobilizing all our senses but also puts us on the receiving end of messages we can't influence. The alternative is to look for choices that activate: learning, exploring, expression, participation or creativity - even if it's just by cooking a meal. 

Convenience
Humans quickly trade essentials in exchange for a little more convenience, e.g. we are quick to turn to the nearest fast food restaurant close to the road or the depressing hotel chain closest to the meeting location. Convenience is a powerful bait capable of gradually dragging us into the matrix: a formulated lifestyle. Stay curious and keep exploring. 

Insecurity
Particularly from a position of social insecurity we are vulnerable for the high-status choices. Individuals are willing to compensate perceived shortcomings at almost any cost and often at the expense of their own long-term viability. The cost of our inferiority complex is the incremental price we pay for the "premium" brand appealing to our vanity. Refusing to buy into this logic is also a first step to build your own personal style. Just Be Confident. 

Cheapness
Consistently chasing the best deal will inevitably surround us with cheap and mass-produced stuff, probably too much of it. By definition, manufacturers and providers of the low cost products cannot have local or sustainable business practices. Unchaining yourself is not compatible with bargain hunting. Let's not be cheap and pay the price for what's good for us and our (urban) environment. 

Peer Pressure
Peer pressure can easily direct us away from what we know as being true or right. It is scientifically proven that people overwhelmingly defy evidence of their own senses when faced with peer pressure (see separate post). Many decisions are being taken to "go with the flow". Follow your instincts, not the masses.