By Stefan Sojka
Complacency was once a desirable state of the masses – a place where we could raise families and live nice quiet lives. Progress was someone else’s problem. The networked world has pushed us all into the rapids, sink or swim.
Before we all plugged in and turned on, most advancement in society, economics and life in general was pursued by scientists, policy-makers and big business, running their own agendas of discovery, vote-winning or competition. The rest of the world moved at a fairly steady pace; birth, childhood, school, work, marriage, procreation, retirement, death. Our ambitions were modest, our scope narrow and our acceptance of our position in the scheme of things was never an issue.
One forgets how recent the global travel phenomenon is, or the notion of having more than one vocation (or partner) in a lifetime, mature age university education or reality TV. All of these activities have opened our eyes to a broader, deeper, richer life (except, perhaps reality TV!)
I would argue, however, that there is an innate part of us that actually likes being complacent, that could spend our entire lives chasing nothing, kicking back and watching the world go by. It’s the part that yearns for a sea-change and a house-boat.
The irony is that the only way we’ll ever afford a sea-change is if we work real hard. Yet, we wage an eternal battle against that voice inside that thinks we are already there, sitting pretty. “I have a Website. I’m in Google. I use email and have a fancy smart phone – I’ve made it. In fact I’ll go on FaceBook and tell everyone how awesome I am.”
How many Websites do you see that haven’t been updated for five years? News pages with ‘news’ from 2006? Websites that are still 800 pixels wide, reflecting a screen size standard that has long been superseded? Coming soon? Under construction? Page not found? Each instance is a shining example of complacency. Isn’t the Internet supposed to be a revolution in communication and the opportunity of a lifetime to be seized by one and all? What’s going on?
I am always amazed at how many people’s entire business plan for their Website is to have accidentally managed to get on page one of Google for a couple of good keywords five years ago, or to sit on a pay-per-click campaign they haven’t reviewed since it started. See the panic set in when a few other Websites start pushing them down the list, or begin bidding against them for paid listings until they drop off the page completely. Sitting pretty is no way to survive on the Internet. Getting busy is.
Do I want to be a distant memory, locked away in the deeper recesses of the Web, or an uppermost thought in the world’s collective mind? I have to stay fresh and keep up to speed. However well I might think I am doing on-line, I can always do better. However hard I might be working to stay in front, someone else is working harder, to re-make, re-model and re-invent themselves and their market – my market.
I may not like it, but things are moving very fast. Everything is feeding back on everything else in an infinite evolutionary loop. Keep up, or risk being left out of the loop altogether.
I would love to be sitting pretty, but now is not the time. No house-boat this year. There’s a lot more kayaking to be done, thrashing about with the paddle, trying not to get overturned, mid-stream. I’ll have my sea-change… someday. It certainly won’t happen by itself.