Friday, June 24, 2011

Kill the Buzzwords

Green. Minimalist. Eco-Friendly. Organic. Sustainable.

I'm guilty of it myself - buying into the buzzwords that float through our culture getting everyone worked up and repeating it - for about half a minute until the next one comes along.

Over a year ago when I began to carefully consider what I genuinely wanted out of life and what felt most natural to me, the word nomad came up. At the time I had no idea that "modern nomad" was a hot topic - I just knew that very frequently I'd get in my car and have an almost undeniable urge to drive off in a random direction and just keep on driving.

There are a lot of people who don't like change - possibly even most people don't like change. It's scary and frightening, it is the unknown and people do not like walking down paths they do not recognize. I am not one of these people.

I love change - I relish it. If my surroundings stagnate for too long I get bored and reckless. I don't like keeping old things and I don't like staying in one place. I don't like doing the same work every day or going to the same company. I don't even like eating the same things on a regular basis. I want to see and do everything, and I don't like being in a "comfort zone" because I don't like who I am when I become complacent.

For me, the life of a nomad is very appealing. Constantly moving through differeing scenery, climates, terrains and different food availibility, all the while forcing my body and mind to remain alert and active, occasionally coming up against unique challenges that have to be solved in order for travel or life to continue, is just perfect for me. I almost feel like it's how I was born to live.

So even though nomad has become a buzzword, it fits me because it has always fit me. It's not a new way of thinking, it's just one potential name for who I have always been.

What is wrong with Buzzwords?

The concepts presented are generally good healthy ideas. Each thing I listed at the beginning of this post is a good idea and an even better practice. However, like the fads of the 80's, the use of these words and the consciousness of what they mean can be very fleeting. Back in the mid 1990's there was a lot of interest in wildlife protection and keeping animals from becoming extinct. At the time there were again words and concepts being thrown around by just about everyone, and a lot of good work was done towards those goals. However, while the protection did continue the awareness of the general public of those causes dropped significantly as we moved into the 2000's and everyone became obsessed with new ideas. Things that were more talked about included reality TV and bling.

Rather than paying any attention to the cultural obsession of the moment, we should be figuring out what really matters to each of us as individuals. While most of us want to help and make a difference, we each have our own focal areas that are most important to us. Instead of following the herd and thinking about a single (or a few) ideas as a group, smaller groups could be working on specific areas that matter to them. These things will hold our attention more simply because they are causes that matter to us for personal reasons rather than that we hear about them every day and are basically forced to be aware of them.

Another potentially detrimental side effect of buzzword causes is that people feel guilty if they don't follow the path everyone is focused on. This is true whether it's a cause of the moment or just a fashion designer's latest offerings. We shouldn't be basing our self worth on what everyone else thinks, wants or appreciates, but we do.

So when it comes to being green or living sustainably, do it because deep down it really matters to you - not because you'll feel guilty if you don't. If that's the case you'll revert eventually to how you lived your life before. Instead find something that really matters to you and devote yourself to that. You can still make a difference even if it's not in the way other people expect you to.

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