Truly, it's a matter of perception. All of it. Current economic climate included [clarification: this in no way attempts to simplify, reduce, or minimize where we are. Perhaps I was bullish in my provocative opening?]. Noah Brier has a thought-provoking post about, among other things, the death of reality. He says:
While there's lots of stuff that makes up the economy, ultimately it's mostly a bunch of people's perceptions about how the economy is doing that drives it. In a state of perceived crisis (such as now), we all react by following the leads of others, even though the vast majority of us don't actually understand what is going on and how it threatens us as individuals.
There is a lot of material out there that references how our brain does not know the difference between something real and something imagined. It reacts the same way to the stimulus provided by the imagination, than it does to real events. That is the philosophy behind the idea of thinking positive, sending good thoughts and prayers. They are all projections of intention.
Brier uses the work of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard to exemplify. We talked about the narrative fallacy with Nassim Nicholas Taleb and The Black Swan. We like stories, we like to summarize, and we like to simplify, that is to reduce the dimension of things. In Taleb's words, "the fallacy is associated with our vulnerability to overinterpretation and our predilection for compact stories over raw truths."
In other words, we seek patterns to wrap our head around unrelated or very complex events. That is a feature of survival - having to make up our minds quickly on what to do next. I was watching a Discovery Channel show recently about leopards, lions and hyenas, and how they follow their instincts even though they often learn from reality.
As marketers we should be focusing on helping people rationalize their purchase, which happens emotionally. Providing the facts, the needed checks on a list of reasons that will satisfy the need to know why the purchase was made - even though many a time it's just "because"... we like it, it sounded good, it felt good, etc.
I really like where Brier is taking this - moral clarity - to the acknowledgment that there are only facts to take to task and deal with at this time.
For all of those who are currently planning a budget for next year - be bullish, be a purple cow, be creative, but please do not go the "same old/same old" route and expect different results. Sometimes less is just less.
On a different and pertinent note, Tim O'Reilly shares his letter to employees about the current financial crisis. When we talk about social media, we keep reminding ourselves that it's about watching, listening, learning. Well, that applies to economics and work as well. O'Reilly's post meets Briers in the here is what is mode - Daniel Lanois spells that as believing in yourself. It's focusing on what matters, liberating the inner leader, conserving. Brand you is also all in your head.
[image of perception and reality]