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You Should Create More Chaos

by Patrick McNerthney

Since My Eternal Quest Toward Self-Improvement turns out to actually be eternal, I find myself watching lots of presentations and TED Talks by quasi-famous people for inspiration. Recently, I caught a leadership speech by a famous Internet person named Ben Chestnut (he co-founded the technology company Mailchimp). During which he used yet another word I didn’t understand: Entropy.

Ben said that entropy is the chaos, disorganization, or waste that happens when we work and have output. Which is great to know, I didn’t realize my being a slob was actually a sign of progress! I can’t wait to tell my wife.

Ahem. Seriously though, one of Ben’s biggest points was that the absence of chaos in our working lives is a BAD thing because it means we are not moving forward or getting anything done.

For example, have you ever made a big breakfast, even just for yourself? How’s your kitchen look afterwards?  How about mowing your lawn? Do all the clippings magically land in a bag as you curse and struggle with the mower? Or, there’s a car engine: the absence of exhaust (waste, entropy) means the engine isn’t running which means you aren’t going anywhere.

(This baby goes nowhere without entropy.)

Everything worth doing creates waste or chaos (which, ironically, drives managers, employers, wives, nuts), so entropy is a sign that good things are coming down the line! Now I’d like to explore this notion framed through the lens of the Internet. Why? Come now, I can’t just give up all my secrets at once. Let’s take a walk.

I’ve mentioned my loathing for anything remotely related to processing vast amounts of information from the Internet before. And despite my suggestion that I’m on a continual quest for self-improvement, I haven’t done much to diminish this loathing. I just don’t like feeling overwhelmed by crowded spaces, even if they’re virtual.

This is likely because in the past I’ve made the mistake of connecting with online resources that weren’t necessarily scams, but also weren’t necessarily trying to be as helpful as they claimed either; as evidenced by their robot-generated follow-up calls (sometimes during dinner!) and unwanted emails despite the fact I didn’t think I’d provided my personal information, or at least never agreed to being solicited.

(This guys keeps interrupting my dinner.)

This is likely because in the past I’ve made the mistake of connecting with online resources that weren’t necessarily scams, but also weren’t necessarily trying to be as helpful as they claimed either; as evidenced by their robot-generated follow-up calls (sometimes during dinner!) and unwanted emails despite the fact I didn’t think I’d provided my personal information, or at least never agreed to being solicited.

I came upon these safe spaces slowly, over time, typically at the suggestion of a peer rather than a blind Google search. “Hey, check out this guy’s blog I think you might like it” kind of thing.

(This is how I see my online safe spaces.)

These safe spaces are simply about connection. In fact, I’ve realized two of my safe spaces in particular are actually places I retreat to and seek shelter in. Me, Mr. Internet curmudgeon. Who’d have thought?

The point is, I would never have made progress towards accessing what works for me on the Internet if I hadn’t tackled the painful work of USING the Internet in the first place. The entropy that came from this work, the chaos and waste, came in the form of junk emails and unsolicited phone calls from the less than well-meaning online entities I encountered during my research.

The point is, I would never have made progress towards accessing what works for me on the Internet if I hadn’t tackled the painful work of USING the Internet in the first place. The entropy that came from this work, the chaos and waste, came in the form of junk emails and unsolicited phone calls from the less than well-meaning online entities I encountered during my research.

It was worth it to find my safe spots. I visit them almost daily, however brief those visits may be.

As caregivers, you may be looking for resources to help you in your support of the elderly or other vulnerable populations during this difficult time of social isolation and increased anxiety. Online resources that don’t come with strings attached.

If that’s the case, Fine Art Miracles can be your online safe spot. Art therapy classes, music therapy  or even coloring pages create fantastic opportunities for your residents to experience feelings of pride and self-worth, relieve stress, and build connection. Fine Art Miracles has one mission: making the world a better place for caregivers and those they serve through creative expression. It’s a nonprofit organization not big on intrusive solicitation, but rather big on making an impact.

So as you go forth and work, create as much entropy as you can, because chaos and waste are a gloriously inevitable sign of progress. But remember Fine Art Miracles is here to be a safe space for you – which is great, I’ve created enough online entropy for the both of us.