Sunday, February 11, 2007

get inside

I have discovered a law, and it goes like this: the more the hype, the less the value. The more the glitter, the less the gold. I'm not saying I invented it, I only discovered it. I hope lots of other people have discovered it too.

It stems from my days as a stockbroker, but as I've matured I have naturally come to see its application across all endeavors. Mathematically, it can written thus: h=1/v (hype is inversely proportional to value).

The title of this post is the opposite of the title of this post, which was inspired one afternoon at Grand Central, formerly one of my favorite hangouts.

The mental picture I had when I began this entry was of Times Square. If Grand Central Station is all business, Times Square is all bullshit.It's hype central: an overdose of glitter and sensuality and temptation and promises of...of what? Whatever it promises, even if it delivers, whatever it delivers will either wear out in six months, be over in under two hours, or be digested by this time tomorrow. Nothing Times Square has to offer will last.

All that distraction, and what does it get you? Not much. But what does it distract you from? Ahh, now there's the real issue.

I just returned from a retreat. I took half a legal pad full of notes. But one line stands out crystal clear. The normal human reaction to stress is to seek distraction -- to "get outside." Movies, iPods, running away, relationships of minimal commitment, food, drugs, whatever. Distractions and anesthetics. But what good are anesthetics without the surgery? All they do is...wear off (and cost money). Then you wake up miserable.

Another point that was made this weekend is the irony that, while technology is supposedly all about saving time and labor, people seem to have less time, tend to be more worn out, and are far more distracted than ever. Time savers or time wasters?

Distractions abound, especially in New York City. But what are we all being distracted from? And if the law of hype applies here, is the real value in that quiet place...inside? And why do we spend so much time and money on distractions and gadgets and everything except getting inside?

We're not afraid of something, are we?


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