Thank god I finally found a decent version of this song: One Bottle of Pop. (Reddit can be awesome sometimes.) One part of the song in particular has been on my mind lately. "Don't throw your trash in my backyard, my backyard's full."
The refrain of this song stuck in my head after a recent decision. Instead of putting my recycling in a recycling bin, I started to put it on my counter. Each item I usually throw out went in a pile there. Paper. Plastic. Glass. In about a week all my counter space was gone. This small change made a very real difference.
Because I don't see where waste goes, it doesn't matter to me. When I have plenty, it's hard to feel the impact of throwing it away. Shoe boxes. Bags from clothes delivered to my door. Junk mail. La Croix cans. To go coffee cups. Leftover food containers. Packaging for new gadgets. Stuff I buy from the grocery store, that isn't real food.
I like to think I don't consume much, but this last week tells a different story. If all my trash went in my back yard, my back yard would be full. Instead, it goes somewhere else. I needed a small change in thinking. I waste too much, but it's so easy.
Take a La Croix can for example. Aluminum mining. Water. Fruit essence (natural essence oils of fruit that give the drink its flavor...where does this come from? and what happens to the fruit?). Carbonation. Packaging. Shipping. Sitting in a store taking up space (which costs money). And finally, consumption. We get to drink it for less than $.99. And then throw it away, or into the recycling. All that effort for a somewhat fleeting pleasure, which lasts a little while until then we need another.
Don't worry. I'm not on a guilt trip. If you feel bad reading that last paragraph, it's your conscience speaking, not me! What I want to get at is this - when I live in the midst of plenty, returns don't matter. I want the satisfaction without the guilt. And I don't want to stop.
Carrying this into the world of business and proposals, the correlation becomes simple. Producing content and consuming content are two completely different animals. It'll take 4 - 5 hours to get this post in front of you. If you make it this far in your reading, you're a couple of minutes in, and almost done.
An insane amount of energy is pouring into the world of content. Social media. TV. Movies. Books. Apps. Whatever. The more we get, the more we consume, the more we waste. Which brings about a question around the real value of producing anything in the first place. Especially if everything is trending toward the free and ubiquitous.
It took me about 30 minutes to find a decent recording of One Bottle of Pop. Some call this song The Fish and Chips and Vinegar song. Fair enough. That's also a verse in the song. You'd think with the Google Search engine fired up, I would have found the best thing first. Hardly. Visibility doesn't always mean quality. Sometimes it indicates the opposite.
In the fight for visibility, I'm throwing trash in other peoples' backyards. (Granted, I don't think that what I produce is trash, but someone else might think so. Especially if it's not relevant to them.) I'm throwing trash in the world's backyard. And while the rivers of the world run into the ocean, it's never full. While trash builds up on the internet and socials, we'll never see most of it, so it doesn't matter.
But try this. Record all your posts, blogs, tweets, etc. in one place for a week. Take a look back on them. How much value did you produce? How much waste?
That might not be the point for you, right? Hell, it's fun! But at the end of the day, the person whose virtual backyard is taking the trash isn't laughing or having a good time. They're still searching for something great, something worthwhile, something they can use in that sea of information.
In the attention economy, I waste a lot of energy and time seeking attention. That's okay. Sometimes the world wastes. For example, look at the extravagance and crushing work of many animals. They produce eggs by the thousands (e.g., spiders, termites, mantises, salmon). Most eggs meet immediate death. They get consumed by predators. They get killed by the elements. They don't have the protection necessary to survive. So I realize there's an argument for producing a lot to gain a little. But there might be a different way for us humans.
More on this to come. In the meantime, we've got an eBook set for release in the middle of August. Goddamned Good Proposals. It's a contribution to the conversation on making business proposals better and easier. I've not seen the content or ideas anywhere on the web or in print (at least all in one place). That said, we won't be throwing any trash in your backyard! Read it if you like. If not, be well in whatever you're doing.