Innovation being served up with a growing angst, anxiety and Kiasu

fighting the clockTime, we are told, can be our best friend or equally our worst enemy. This week time showed its bad side to me, actually it might have been doing this for some weeks when I stop and think about it.

When you feel the pressures of time, you seem like you are “fighting the clock”, it just seems to heap more pressure on you and that need to break out, that spark of creativity, seems to have been buried under an avalanche of what keeps coming into you. The acceleration of what keeps landing on your desk, crying out to be read, answered or translated into something more.

Of course, most of us are that rational type and we tell ourselves most of this is self-imposed or is it? I think most of this is externally-imposed. I blame the advancement of our social tools and all the multitudes of opinions, thoughts, suggestions that are ‘spewing’ forth in streams and becoming so overwhelming you begin to go ‘stir’ crazy. I equally blame myself for getting so hooked.

Addressing the problem

This is not simply a time problem, it is deeper than this. It is actually tickling away at fear, it is giving a growing intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety and inner turmoil. I think I’ve been suffering this for some time. I’ve got FoMO thanks to all these social platforms I feel I need to connect into.

Each day is getting into a growing dangerous routine. I arrive into the office my early routine- check my emails, check twitter, check the blog, check facebook, it is eating into my time but I need it. Do I really? This is social anxiety with a big kicker. FoMo – that fear of missing out.

Then we have the staggering array of social networks constantly prompting us to check out our Klout status or your Kred score or the latest articles in our designated areas of interest. Then you go in search of the scoops of the day. You must feed the hungry beast, baying for your time.

Then the daily snippets, LinkedIn reminders, slideshare updates, headline notifications and then the drip of the dailies from paper.li capturing all the breaking stories you subscribed too, needed you felt for your work. Were they?

This is angst, an acute anxiety type, I am dreading where this is all going. So do we really need all these ‘social’ interactions, are they profitable investments or just simply satisfying events and quick fixes. No, we just want to all feel loved, special, in the loop and by giving something back into this, achieve a little respect. What are we really getting out of them? We reply, we contribute and we feel productive but are we, are we economically productive?

Now if this economic productivity is happening then great. That is defined as increasing the economic value or are social platforms just simply sucking the economic life out of us all?

It just dulls our creative process so we are getting more defocused aberrations

The reality is it is dulling our own creative processes. Is it spurring us to do more within our own work? Is it not undermining the precise kind of creative thinking for us to do our own creative work? It is blurring us, it is surely this constant ‘mass’ of contribution that chips away at making us less individually distinct, perhaps a new form of defocused aberration.  The higher the intensity of this social ‘interaction’ the more we get defocused, not actually more focused, I feel.

Then we come to Kiasu.

Anyone who has ever lived in Singapore will recognise this word. They even have a Mr. Kiasu. This really is a wonderful word for that “fear of missing out”. I think it applies to me more and more. I’ve caught the dreaded Kiasu fever.

Kiasu is a mental attitude, it is always looking for a sense of opportunity. This has its positive sides but it shows itself far more in its less attractive ones. It makes you feel if you don’t do something now it will be missed opportunity and where it adds a real pressure on you, is you have this fear that it will not be simply lost, it will go to someone else.

So  you experience with Kiasu a sense of lost opportunity and a growing disadvantage in relation to other people who are ‘working’ the social scene. This feeds compulsion that I equally have to do something now, it is my own sense of obligation kicking in as I owe it to myself and so I have to do it. This nicely links into a pressure to compete with others and I can’t lose out, can I?

Understanding Kiasu

Anna Wierzbicka wrote on Kiasu “Singapore English- a semantic and cultural perspective” that does an excellent job of describing much around Kiasu. Also David Chan Wah offered a essay some time back on “Kiasuism and the withering away of Singaporean creativity” with the wonderful maxim of “better grab first, later no more”.

In Singapore, Kiasu manifests itself in queue jumping or others barging in front of you, with perhaps, if you are lucky, only a simply “sorry lah”, it also is seen on the roads when no one likes to give way when lanes are merging. Kiasu is deeply ingrained into Singapore ‘s psyche, it has its good and bad points.

Growing up with Kiasu and its pressures often makes for ambitious business people; you become ‘big’ on working towards number one. The problem is always double edged, winning is never totally sweet as it carries the dread of ceasing to win, to get ahead, to ‘grab’ the opportunity.

There is even a A to Z of Kiasu I came across sometime back, although I’m not sure of its source on the sometimes amusing side of Kiasu in Singapore. I think we should compile one for our growing social anxieties of that FoMO.

Kiasu Philosophy

We are all increasingly in an information maze

We of course, do need to devote time to reaching out, reading, responding, to gathering in and absorbing but we do need our own plans of what amount of time we should spend on this and its ultimate purpose.

We need to certainly find time, to make available time as others offering their thinking and experiences does help us relate and often make sense of our world. It does stimulate our creative process but it is the ‘act’ of filtering but this can’t be imposed by a simple click of a delete button, it has to be more than this.

The pressure today is externally- imposed but we need to regain the upper hand by making this flow of social interactions coming to us, like a social tsunami, by taking back control to make it far more self-imposed. My anxieties, my FoMO needs redirecting into greater economic worth. Recognizing the symptoms is a start.

We all I feel, need to be more selective, more discerning to make our own insights more personally creative and not becoming even more elusive, growing reliant just on our ‘feeds’ being beamed in daily to dull our creative brain, by simply adding to them. We need to ‘carve’ out our own time to allow our ‘creative juices’ to flow more, I forgot to get this jab shot recently, where is that creative needle?

Becoming more selective- is that my answer?

So I need to come to grips with all this. I’m not sure if all this inflow is helping as much as it should be, it is not generating what I think it should be, certainly from the time I seemingly put into it. I need to break into this with a different perspective, it is sucking up far to much of my time.

But as Mr Kiasu says in Singapore English “I’ve got to get my money’s worth lah!” I’ve got to “everything also I want” and “everything must grab”  with “everything also want extra” but with more of “everything also sure win“. Work that out!

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One thought on “Innovation being served up with a growing angst, anxiety and Kiasu

  1. Pingback: Tuning out, a need for simplification and better value | Paul4innovating's Innovation Views

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