Recommendations

October 10, 2012

So many decisions in our life are based on recommendations. A lot of them make sense. The food you eat, the things you buy, maybe big things like where you live and where you went to school, none of that was picked out of thin air. There's too many choices and too many unknowns to juggle, so others's opinions are invaluable for your sanity.

There are a lot of people who have no idea who you are who influence you. Maybe it's a famous chef, or your favorite movie maker, or your favorite author or your favorite singer-songwriter. What is your job? Do you have someone to look up to? Don't you get intensely curious about what tools they use, what books they read, how they got to where they are? Use them to guide you among the overwhelming number of choices you have about everything.

So these people you don't know, it's easy to gather them and keep up with them and listen to them. Unfortunately, it's difficult to talk to them, ask them questions, which might be okay. The end decision is yours after all, so you're not forced to blindly follow them. But then there are the people that you can talk to, your friends and family and acquaintences. With the ones you don't know, you don't have to put up with the ones you don't like. In the other group, you have to put on a filter, to get past the noise.

You get better at it. You get better at spotting someone who's in sync with your interests, with what fascinates and bores you. With what disgusts you and makes you angry, with what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. You adjust accordingly, like this scale that lives in your head subconsciously for everyone you know, and as each successful recommendation registers, their words weigh heavier, their opinion sways you more, and your respect for them grows. The scale moves in the other direction too, so for some people, you know to take their words lightly, or to even avoid them as much as possible, or at least tune out most of what they're saying.

The interesting thing is, you would think that because some people know more about certain things than others, you can't really judge people by the whole person and you'd need to consider the topic of discussion. This isn't the case. There's hardly ever one expert on one subject. If you find someone who's supposed to know but who's constantly spouting crap, don't bother and find another expert that you can actually stand, someone you get along with.

Think about your best friends. How much have they influenced you? And if you don't like someone's recommendations, and you consistently don't like most of what they're talking about, aren't you a bit wary of them? It's not that he's a terrible person, but you're not right for each other. You need help navigating this congested world and finding the right people is key.

Think about when you recommend something to someone. It feels good because someone asked for your opinion in the first place. Or when someone starts using something that you use, even if they didn't ask you, but you know it was because of you, and you smile because you know you got to play a hand in that decision. You become a little closer to them. And think about how sometimes after you recommend something, they come back and tell you they didn't like it. That's fine too, nothing wrong with that. You know not to give a recommendation as lightly to this them next time. It goes both ways.

If you find that person, someone who you go back and forth with, finding that you love all the same things, and as a result of both your experiences and outside recommendations together you make up an infinite pool of new and fascinating things, don't let that person go. Because I bet at least once, and hopefully that's it, and maybe it's already happened, you'll lose someone like this. Maybe you naturally drifted apart, or maybe you broke up. But think about all that crap she shared with you, and think about all the stuff that she might have shared with you over the years that you might never find out, and think about all the stuff that you want to share with her because you know she will just love it but she might never find out.