4 Crappy Ideas Everyone Thinks Are Brilliant
People approach ideas in different ways. To some, they are hamsters you pile in a cage until there's only a single really fat one left. Others see them as bricks and use them to break the windows of people they don't like. However, there is one common denominator: Ideas sure like to have fun. Ideas dance from head to head like it ain't no thing, without a passing thought on whether the one they partied with last night wore a hat or not. As a result, certain types of more ... active ideas tend to end up in pretty much everyone's head at some point. Here are four of the worst offenders.
The 2 a.m. Idea
Let's say you finish the last episode of whatever TV show you've been binge-watching this week, only to notice that once again you're up way, way later than you intended. It's time to catch some sleep, for the sheets are soft and yet to be stained by the terror-sweat from your inevitable mortal combat with the bogeyman.
His terror-sweat, that is. He's had this beatdown coming ever since he returned
your laptop scratched and covered in drool.
And then the idea comes. Maybe you're not quite in bed yet when it happens. Maybe you're already half asleep, gently drifting into the saintly unconsciousness only the truly fatigued and criminally inebriated can experience. But at some point between tiredness and passing out, your brain suddenly goes all SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER! HERE'S THE BEST IDEA YOU'VE EVER HAD IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE! At that point, you have two options: Either you give your brain the old yawn-snort-fart-roll over treatment and try to catch the Sleep Express before it leaves the station ... or you grab that bull by the goddamn horns. Who knows? This might be the Big One -- that absurdly great idea that will catapult you from obscurity to Zuckerbergian power and wealth. Better start scribblin', you future rich person, you!
Or you could just take the third option and do what you always do at that hour.
I'm not telling you to never, ever follow through on those late-night ideas. I'm in no position to do that. I've been known to work at 3 a.m., and at least half of all the major life decisions I've ever made have been influenced by the kind of sleep deprivation that would warrant its own Creepypasta yarn. If anything, I'm a cautionary example. See, there's a fine line between "awesome" and "potentially dangerous awesome," and those late-night ideas our brains give us are dancing a jig along that line, naked, floppy, and pooping all over the place.
The thing is, the human brain is a notorious asshole. One of the many, many, many ways this manifests is its love for getting creative at the worst possible moment, gleefully rubbing irresistible inspiration in our faces when we're as tired as humanly possible. Sometimes we bite: That golden idea about a surefire method of breeding dachshunds into dragons may be enough to keep you up all night, and over time it may even develop into a condition called creative insomnia, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Incidentally, that's not even the worst downside of late-night idea orgies. That would be the fact that they can actually decrease your intelligence, both physically and emotionally.
Yep, all those great 2 a.m. ideas are just a ruse by your brain so it doesn't have to work so damn hard.
The Business Idea
I'm willing to bet a box full of neuticles that at some point during the last week most people reading this have taken a look at someone doing his job and thought, "I could totally do that better than this guy." Maybe you even came up with a specific way to improve the function in question ("That ice cream van would look a lot less serial killer-y if you replaced all those pictures of clowns with, say, shrunken heads"). If you recognize yourself from this description, congratulations/condolences! You have idly wandered the slippery slope of the mentality that drives people to entrepreneurship.
I'm calling these things "drunken business ideas," not because we always get them when we're shitfaced (although that much is definitely true, at least in my case), but because, much like booze, they're usually gone the next day and replaced by other pressing matters. We may not pay attention to most of them, and plenty of the ones we do notice tend to be total crap ("We should totally start a bar that would serve guysh like ush although we've allreedy had a fffew!"). Even so, these occurrences are common enough that each and every one of us probably hits a few bull's-eyes a year by sheer statistical volume.
So, with all these great ideas zipping in our heads, how is the world full of people whose idea of a good business is peddling turdbuckets like canine butt flaps and blow job lights? Shouldn't pretty much everyone be able to pick a few friends and a suitable idea and, with a little work, form a simple, foolproof business plan?
If it winds up looking anything like this, run like the fucking wind.
I mean, obviously we're not actually going to do that, but the point is that we could if we felt like it. Right?
Let's say we have a business idea, and it's pretty clear that it is the best business idea. What the hell are we going to do next?
Even though some experts think being unorthodox and inexperienced can actually give you an edge when you're starting out (hence all the butt flaps and other lunacy-fueled products out there), wackiness is only going to get you so far. No matter how good your idea and setup, it means precisely jack shit if you don't know what you're doing and have a ton of luck on your side. Basically, this means that as long as we're operating on the idea alone, we're this guy:
"TROG UNFAMILIAR WITH HIGHER NUANCES OF BUSINESS MODELS."
And unless we're willing to invest countless weeks, months, and quite possibly years in creating contacts, learning the ins and outs of the industry, and doing whatever the hell it is responsible adults do to learn things, the Shrunken Heads I-Scream Company isn't going to plow through the stock market unless we physically drive our van to Wall Street.
On a completely unrelated note, I found this really sweet cattle guard on Etsy.
They say everyone has a story to tell. This is like saying every person alive has 3 tablespoons of blood in them: It's technically true, but there's a lot more where that came from. Humans are made of stories. Hell, that "abstract thinking" thing is kind of our whole deal as a species.
But I'm not talking about just any story. I'm talking about the story, the one big tale everyone has either tucked away or laid out in the open. Defining that story is pretty easy: It's the tale you want to tell the most. It may not be the biggest idea you'll ever have, but in many ways it's the most important -- an idea of you, if you will.
The Story isn't any particular length or format. It can even change over time: There's no telling if the grumpy old spoilsport you'll be in 20 years' time will appreciate that 1,000-page treatise on wrestling-themed porn.
Some of us choose to keep this particular idea to ourselves. Others start a blog, or make crazy ass statues, or enroll in acting classes and take that shit to stage. If you feel like it, by all means turn yours into a screenplay and write the lead role for a past star who has fallen out of the limelight in order to revitalize his career. Shit, go nuts and painstakingly craft it to form an exact 3D replica of him when you print it out, I don't even care. It's your story.
Although you are making a terrible mistake, for that is how he breeds.
That's the whole point: Regardless of how we choose to express it, we all have that one big idea constantly churning in the back of our minds, the single creative thing no one can take away from us no matter what.
You're constantly running a risk of being imprisoned by your story.
The thing about having a Thing is that sometimes you wind up getting taken over by that thing (and occasionally also by the Thing). Having a definitive idea can lead to a situation where said idea ends up defining you. If your story is all about your children and you've mostly expressed it via baby photo spamming and telegraphing your mom/dad moves so everyone can see that you're a parent, great. Still, there's a good chance that's going to be your defining trait, and 35 years later you'll still call your kid every day to see if he's wearing his scarf despite the fact that said scarf is now a beard, everyone else is calling him Murder Pug, and he can simultaneously ride two different Harleys with a contraption he made from femurs and hate. If you're fine with this, good for you! Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise (unless they have a badge). If you're not, well, that's just tough. That's still your lot in life if you willfully typecast yourself.
As a greedy businessman, obviously.
The risk of typecasting applies to everyone, and it's really not so much a risk as it is a cold certainty. As David Wong has pointed out, what the world sees of you will ultimately wind up defining their idea of you. Aspects of George R.R. Martin's definitive story (becoming a renowned writer by doing what he loves) include many other elements besides A Song of Ice and Fire. Had things gone differently, the George Martin Story might still be the same in his head, but to us, it would be "that weird guy with the tugboat captain's hat who's always talking about murdering literary characters." It works the other way around, too: A humble, downtrodden McDonald's worker is just one apartment fire and a saved baby away from becoming the hero he's always been in his story in the eyes of the rest of the world.
See, this is one of those things that make Homo sapiens the undisputed clusterfuck king of the planet. And probably also the reason why dogs opt to tell their stories by sniffing each other's butts.
The Shower Idea
Go ask anyone where they had their last good idea. Chances are either they'll say it was in the shower or they're lying.
There are several reasons why showers are such idea magnets: You wash yourself more or less on autopilot, so your mind is free to wander. Combined with the dopamine release triggered by the cozy, enclosed place and warm water, this creates the perfect environment for some heavy duty idea-mongerin'. Well, that's what scientists say, anyway. Personally, I've always suspected that getting naked under an artificially heated man-made waterfall and lathering your carcass with surfactants boiled from dead plant and animal drippings causes the universe to lob ideas at you in a desperate effort to make you stop that shit.
Still, whatever the reasons behind its magic, the shower is the perfect idea booster that is very, very difficult to get wrong.
If it doesn't work, call a plumber. If this happens, call a druid.
There is one significant downside to showering. Your ideas are pretty much confined to a single tiny room-coffin, and it just happens to be the one place in the house where it's almost impossible to take notes. Leave the shower, and there's a good chance the idea will be gone in a gust of cold air and discomfort by the time you've toweled off.
Alternate complaint: All those light bulbs are a real health hazard in a wet environment.
With this in mind, I would like to propose a new worldwide business model for workplaces everywhere. Let's make showers part of our daily work culture. Let's install shower booths in every office, meeting room, and hallway. You know what, forget booths -- let's just cut out the middleman and make everywhere showers. We can keep one small room in each house (the former bathroom, of course) dedicated to boring dryness, where we'd occasionally venture to type down our constant quality ideas. I want this to happen because even the most tedious, soul-sucking multihour meeting would become swift and effective, for there is no human being alive that can willingly sit in a room with a bunch of nude, pasty-ass office workers longer than a few minutes. I want this to happen because everyone's brain would constantly be in maximum creative mode, cranking out quality ideas for the meager price of senselessly wasting priceless natural resources 24/7.
But mostly I want this to happen because it would give me an excuse to finally stop wearing pants at work.
Special thanks to Sanna Haarala for inspiring this article, and many others. Follow Pauli Poisuo on Twitter.