Creating Higher Quality Stimuli

A stimuli elicits a reaction, it incites a response.

Much of what we read, write, tweet, say, and do can be classified as a stimulus, particularly if it alters the behavior or thoughts of someone else.

What concerns me is that most people only say and do things that they hope others will agree with. This is especially true in the workplace.

Equally concerning is that most people only seek out information that is self affirming.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, media outlets sensationalize ridiculous stimuli merely for the sake of a reaction. “Who cares about 100 angry comments,” they say. “If they pass it along to 500 people our ad revenue will soar on this story.”

There’s a reason I read intelligent books, articles, and essays about running barefooted, eating a Paleo diet, Ron Paul, and the state of marriage.

It’s not because I believe everything the authors write is gospel, and it’s not because I’m actively seeking to change my mind.

Reading things that challenge the status quo and/or oppose my own core values/belief system/internal dialogue require me to re-evaluate where I stand on these issues.

More importantly instead of just saying “That’s outlandish,” or nodding my head in quiet agreement, I’m forced into the process of absorbing a multitude of information, evaluating that information, and then evaluating what I think based on that information.

Often I come out feeling the same way I did before, but with a respect for the opposing view point and an increased ability to articulate my own vantage point as a result. Every now and then there’s enough evidence, logic, and first person testing (in some cases) to convert me to the other side.

Let’s stop writing about why Google + won’t kill Facebook, but that Quora and Twitter should be scared and start creating higher quality stimuli. Lets write and share content that challenges the status quo, or at the very least requires people to dig a little deeper.

  • Ryan, I think you just solved the world’s problems. Think how much better off we’d all be if everyone embraced “the process of absorbing a multitude of information, evaluating that information, and then evaluating what [they] think based on that information”. The problem is that this involves a lot of THINKING and most of what is taught in school is MEMORIZING and REGURGITATING…a lot has to change about our educational system to help people learn how to think starting at a young age.


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    Oh Mark, don’t even get me started. Heretical thought, divergent thinking, leadership, and solving problems that matters are all things that *HAVE* to come to the forefront of our education system, NOT standardized testing.

    The system is clearly broken. Hivemind is encouraged, blindly obeying is encouraged, and slowly transforming most students into regurgitating, robots completely unable of thinking for themselves has become the norm.


  • Your type of stimuli doesn’t make money because too many people aren’t smart enough to understand it, and the vast majority of crap out there is built to sell to them.


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    You’re 100% correct. The hivemind is always going to need their useless, “5 Ways to Get More Twitter Followers,” and I genuinely don’t blame people for wanting to monetize their efforts, but surely the endgame isn’t more money for everyone?

    Surely there’s a few subgroups left of people who want to go beyond what everyone else is talking about, dig deeper and challenge the status quo in the name of innovation (as opposed to just for the sake of it).


  • Your words ring true. So much in this day and age is about spreading your influence as far and as broadly as you can. People lose sight of the benefit of quality over quantity. It can be hard to find a middle ground though. Articles about how to increase your twitter followers are probably always going to be more popular than ones about personal beliefs and other “quality” information, because no instant gratification comes with a questioning, observant, intuitive article. If you can get someone to retweet or forward an article because it really spoke to them personally, it is going to carry a lot more clout than one about the merits of Google+ vs. Facebook.
    Great article, very interesting!