Human beings are a bi-product of what they consume. Raw inputs are ingested and converted using time and energy to create a new output. But regardless of the process that takes place within that conversion, people will always be bi-products of the inputs they take in.
This has never been more clear then when I look back at my past work. It seems that my efforts come off as warped reflections of past experiences, readings and interactions with people. Somehow the influence of past events have distilled themselves into something that floats around in my brain for later use.
I realized yesterday as I made the circuit through a stack of essays from writers I enjoy following that people are walking echo chambers. What I mean is that in some way, our minds are liked biased algorithms that self train us to seek out experiences and inputs that align with the pattern already in our minds. This became abundantly clear when I read through several previous posts by Seth Godin and found them to be eerily similar to the work I have recently done. That’s not to say either of us were copied, on the contrary, I hadn’t read his blog in some weeks and he certainly doesn’t know about mine.
But none the less, our essays have similar underlying themes. We are attuned to similar topics. And this isn’t unique to Seth but many of the other authors that I read. I believe their influence of me has entered a subconscious layer that resurfaces when I work to create on my own.
This seems like both a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because at a certain point, I need to be careful what I consume. On a subconscious level, my mind is integrating these inputs into how I operate on a daily basis. If I ingest “unhealthy” information, this can have negative consequences. Unhealthy information consists of the news and the divisive frivolity it brings. But it also means being weary of consuming a poorly rounded information diet. I don’t necessarily want to live in an information echo chamber. Rather, I want to be exposed to a diversity of thought that allows me to have a unique creative experience.
The subconscious influence mechanism also seems like a good thing. It’s a function of our evolved ability to learn from people that came before us. Understanding how this mechanism works allows humans to be more effective learners but also helps them to influence others.
How does it work? By spreading ideas prolifically in a public domain. Continuously looking back on past ideas published and tinker with them. Improving upon old ideas and publishing them anew. Find like minded authors and combine and transmute their ideas into a new hybrid format. Through prolific transmutation its possible to create something unique that at the same time appeals to a wider audience. This is the key insight. Audiences are built by taking something that already resonates with them and adding personal flare, style and alterations. It feeds their hunger for more resonation, the feeling of connection with others with similar thoughts. At the same time, it appeals to the audiences desire for something new.
Where does this leave us?
We are the sum of our inputs. It’s an evolutionary inevitability that what we consume becomes imprinted on our minds. Learning to embrace this concept and adapting to leverage its value is like a superpower for community building.