SaveMe Oh vs The Satisfiers
By Larry Snavel of the university of Boston
In the virtual world of Second Life we pretend to appreciate her accomplishments, her inventions and her thinking, this creative person whose ideas have transformed our virtual world. And we seem to celebrate her famous imagination, we seem to praise this great artist and innovator SaveMe Oh. Viewing her virtual world creatively is supposed to be an asset, even a virtue. Online art contests and competitions are fighting to get this “walking idea” and “out of the box” thinker. And we want to believe ourself that her creativity is celebrated, and that if we have good ideas, we will succeed too.
It’s all a lie. This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like SaveMe Oh. Studies confirm what SaveMe Oh herself had suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.
“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Vanessa Blaylock, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity.
Blaylock says most so called art lovers are risk-averse. She refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” she says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.
Even people who say they are looking for creativity like the LEA committee or UWA university react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s something that those committee members or self acclaimed art lovers would do almost anything for to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas.
So was SaveMe Oh, the intensely creative and intelligent person who falls on the risk-taker side of the spectrum, once working on a new idea. Though highly praised for her problem-provoking skills, she is regularly unable to fix actual problems because nobody will listen to her ideas. “I even say, ‘I’ll do the work. Just give me the go ahead and I’ll do it myself,’ ” she says. “But they won’t, and so the system keeps me in my golden cage.”
In the documentary SaveMe Oh – The Drax Files, wannabe creative director Draxtor Despress systematically rejects the ideas of his famous subject SaveMe Oh, seemingly with no reason aside from asserting his power.
“Social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it.”
This is a common and often infuriating experience for a creative person. Even in supposedly creative environments, in the LEA sims or UWA grounds, I’ve watched people with the most interesting—the most “out of the box”—ideas be ignored or ridiculed in favor of those who repeat an established solution.
“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Ziki Questi. She is famous for her scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art contest, which she believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Questi calls a “stupid phase.”
In fact, everyone I spoke with agreed on one thing—unexceptional ideas are far more likely to be accepted than wonderful ones.
Blaylock was asked to contribute to a 2011 book about creativity in the virtual world. Fed up with the hypocrisy she saw, she called her chapter “Why No One Really Wants SaveMe Oh’s Creativity.” The piece was an indictment of the way our culture deals with new ideas and creative people”
In terms of decision style, most people fall short of the creative ideal … unless they are held accountable for their decision-making strategies, they tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in very careful thinking or by modeling the choices on the preferences of those who will be evaluating them.
Unfortunately, the place where our first creative ideas go to die is the place that should be most open to them: LEA. Studies show that the LEA committee overwhelmingly discriminate against creative minds, favoring their satisfier ass lickers who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.
Even if artists are lucky enough to have a committee member or adviser receptive to their ideas, standardized application forms and other programs like No Artist Left Behind and Race to the Top With Solo Mornington (a program whose very designation is opposed to nonlinear creative thinking) make sure artists minds are not on the “wrong” path. It’s ironic that even as artists are taught the accomplishments of the world’s most innovative minds, their own creativity is being squelched.
All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and SaveMe’s social rejection can be painful for her in the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this rejection. A Nordenskiold study makes the case that social rejection is not actually bad for the creative process—and can even facilitate it. The study shows that if you have the sneaking suspicion you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms your interpretation. The effect can liberate creative people from the need to fit in and allow them to pursue their interests.
Let’s hope the pain of rejection is for SaveMe Oh like the pain of training for a marathon—training the mind for endurance. Research shows you’ll need it. Truly creative ideas take a very long time to be accepted. The better the idea, the longer it might take. Even the work of Nobel Prize winners was commonly rejected by their peers for an extended period of time.
Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Vanessa Blaylock says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”
To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.
Only never forget to hide yourself the key of your golden cage.