I love listicles. These articles that suggest five ways to achieve your dreams, Five ways to find happiness, 15 ways to decrease stress, 90 ways in 90 days to improve your life. They tell us that successful people and happy people and brilliant people do these few things, utilize these 12 tips and tricks and if we would do the same then our life would be transformed.
And in these succinct numbered paragraphs common sense is delivered to us today. These little tips to make sense to us. We may find some difficulty when we try to implement them, but they make sense to us. They offer hope; it appears that they will work and be useful. And as we read them, again and again, we often find that we are reading the same thing over and over and over. This is why common sense is called common – it repeats.
Older people used to whisper these things into the ears of younger people constantly. When families would gather around the dinner table, older people would pound the table, mutter these phrases, these slogans of common sense and attempt to pound them into the brains of young people. It’s a major clue to our isolation today that we have to turn to the internet and to media to get what we used to get (and wanted to avoid) from our parents, grandparents and other relatives.
The goal of this project is to sort through the river of listicles flowing toward us and find the common elements and common themes which underlie multiple pronouncements. We are looking for what’s generic, with all the frills and tinsel removed that identify a specific article or authorship. As an idea spreads in oral tradition, the specific details of the original instance drop away until all we are left with is the meme without the context. Sometimes later a person will pretty up the meme and decorated with new details that they think will improve the story. Soon those added details, especially if they’re sensationalistic, will also slide away like lost luggage.
We want to look at what’s viral, because people share what they believe will be beneficial. We want to learn the sense that is common and commonly shared.
And when an item of Uncommon Sense is discovered, something new and unique that could be extremely valuable from a single source, to share that and give credit and appreciation to brilliance.
These examples of generic viral common sense will be grouped into categories by topic. This is the way we talk about them and share them. I’m planning on about a hundred in each category, but no one knows how many proverbs and mottos and slogans are out there that will guide our lives in a particular area of meaning.