Finding Meaningfulness

In the past few weeks it was announced that Nixon Mcinnes were closing down, well, not entirely. The business has drastically changed direction since its inception, in a direction which made sense to me, from educating and providing a service for organisations to understand how to use social media, to becoming more focussed on business coaching and helping businesses become more meaningful with their work. This in turn spurned the idea of Meaning.

I can understand some of the motives and messaging around the dissolve of the business. As you become larger as an organisation it becomes harder to sell, and provide the service you set out to give at the start. Instead of being the rogue squadron, pushing forward what you believe to be right, you look at risk differently and this compromises your ability to push back on decisions and demands from your clients that you know to be detrimental to your work and what they wanted you provide.

As I am being constantly reminded lately, I am in my early 30s, apparently this means that my view of the world, my existence and what I believe in are of lesser value to those my senior. That’s fine. It’s the same issue I have faced since I was a teenager. I’m not presumptuous, at 16 I was angry with the world, 18, 21, 24, 28, 30, today, I am still angry. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I may not be fighting for awareness or causes that we all should; the barbaric massacre of people based on their views, or the ability for large corporations to influence our governments into making decisions which affect our lives and our planet. But I still have my causes, my beliefs, my faiths and they’re becoming harder for me to hold onto.

We truly are living in interesting times. I’ve been reading a lot about the backlash from the media charge that Russell Brand has taken lately. I’m not sure I agree with everything he is doing, or saying, but I do appreciate that he is using his public figure as a means to get subjects aired. Did you know about the number of single mothers being pushed around the country from one city to the next because the local housing groups are in favour of expensive new builds than affordable housing? Not many people did, and not many people read articles on the subject in Huck, as I did this month, or knew about it from working with the Department of Welfare and Pensions as I did a few years ago and was exposed to harrowing statistics and a system that is simply failing.

These are big issues, I know they’re there, but they’re not my fight. For me there has always been one call and that was to share new music, to encourage people to play if they want to, and to do it for the love and that has never changed. Over the last 10 years that has found another companion. The web, or more precisely, making things that people want. I spent days and nights reading all kinds of points of view and at the start of my investigation I found a few names cropping up routinely, banging the gong for the ethical way to deliver information on the internet, for building tools and for good design.

Those voices haven’t gone away, but they’re now surrounded with their successors, taking on those ideals and visions and moving them ever further. Sometimes those original messages are lost, sometimes they’re replaced with new ideas and I would like to think I am part of that group of people; although right now I don’t feel like I’m in the same room anymore.

Getting the fear

As in any field, risk clouds judgement. I often refer to Good Strategy Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt, but there are plenty of good reads on strategy and pop-psychology that reflect on the effect of risk in decision making. When I was in my 20s my friends and I would call this ‘the fear’. We all worked in the same place – and we hated it, it was crap pay, crappy hours and yet none of us were trying to do anything else. Sitting around talking about it one day we all agreed what we needed was the fear of not knowing what was going to happen in order to force ourselves into making a decision regardless of the outcome. The result of this was we quit. We didn’t have other jobs, didn’t know where we would get rent from, but if we didn’t nothing would change. Status Quo.

The result? I moved to Brighton, one of the guys applied, got accepted and went to University whilst the third of our group went into local government and ran for MP.

I’m terrible at writing. It’s gotten worse over the last 5 years because I’m so caught up in this tangle of different strands around the same issues. Where I’m trying to get to here is, meaningfulness is the most valuable skill you can have, very soon it will be sold to you in the same way UX has been sold for the last decade and when that happens, it’s all over. Money can’t buy you love.

Published by

Andy Parker

User Experience Designer, headbanger, biker, skater, gamer from Brighton UK.