SXSW 2011: Why Everything is Amazing But Nobody is Happy

Daniel Hope

Zachary Burt
Mr. Awesome
Awesomeness Reminders LLC

Daniel Hope has an interest in the effect of Social Media on relationships. Zachary Burt works at Awesomeness Reminders which calls people every day to tell them how awesome they are.

Entitlement is having something awesome, but hating it when it doesn’t work as expected. It’s in our nature to complain, which is fine. We can move forward into embracing our need to complain. The seven deadly sins are violated in almost every social media product.

Zachary created a website where people could go and vent to someone they don’t know about how bad their life is. This is win-win because the person venting is revealed, and the listener gets a fun story of how bad someone’s life is. Just because something is evil or bad (the seven deadly sins), doesn’t mean it needs to be negative.

Daniel recently was hit as a pedestrian when crossing the street by a vehicle. The driver was using their blue-tooth head set, and couldn’t drive and talk on the phone enough to hit them. This is an “evolution fail.”

Turning off your cell phone before you engage with someone is a good way to say, “Hey, I’m here now. I’m here for you.” It’s a great way to communicate and interact with someone, instead of spending the conversation not listening and just reading your texts or email.

Multitasking is also really difficult. With so much stuff going on, we cannot focus on one thing. So what are some ways we can start our day at being more intentional (asked to the audience)?

  • Don’t use Twitter before noon.
  • Someone in the audience has a program that disables their internet for a couple hours while they write, and then turns off his phone. He tells his mom if someone dies then they’ll still be dead once he turns his device back on.
  • A good technique is to work for 20 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break. It’s almost a form of multitasking, but being intentional with the way you’re doing it.
  • Someone makes a list and puts in the fun things first, and then the bad things. They’ll do the bad things first knowing that once they’re done then they’ll have the fun things to do.

One of the underlining things is to simply measure things to see your output. Because what can be measured, can be managed.

How can we add a dimension into our conversation to identify emotion into our verbal communication online? It’s kind of like an emoticon, but something more in depth. Because with an emoticon it gives you a concept in the mood of the message, but you almost need to know the person personally for it to make sense. Sarcasm, for example, is very hard to demonstrate through a text-message without actually knowing the person. However, if they’re your friend it’s not hard to convey that at all.

If you focus on just one thing, at the end of the day you’ll be more happy than if you multitask multiple at the end of the day.

We are getting better at emotionally connecting with people and things we cannot see with our own eyes. Good Morning America said that if you were wearing a $2000 suit you’d jump into a lake to save someone drowning even if it would ruin the suit without even thinking about it. However if someone asked you for $2000 to dig a well in a foreign country to save a village of people from dehydration you probably wouldn’t consider it. It’s all relative to what’s in front of you in the here and now. You almost have a sense of responsibility for those things in front of you. In an email, however, you may just not consider responding right away.

The Happiness Journal is a concept where you write down things that you’re thankful for. And then when you’re having a bad day you can look through this Journal to feel better about your life. Also just getting feedback about projects helps. For instance, doing an Open Source project lets you see that others want to help you, be grateful for your product, and care about your abilities.

Posted in SXSW 2011.

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