Jewish Journal


January 22, 2013

What’s the Deal with Sweet Potatoes?



By Michael Welch

That brilliant idea that you have, the one that will change the world, the next Facebook, the next moveable print, the next Jack Lalanne Juicer—sorry to tell you, but it’s already been done.  Your original hypothesis will prove to be unoriginal. Brainstorm all you want, but it’s been pre-brainstormed. There is no such thing as independent thought. This may appear to be insolent banter but I believe this could mean something imperative to our existence that also informs social change. I am not saying that nothing new will ever evolve out of us—I am just saying that it is likely to arise out of collective agreement rather than independent thought. 

My favorite example of this is the 100 monkey theory. About 10 years ago a good friend of mine introduced me to this theory of social change. The gist of the theory began with a monkey fond for the taste of sweet potatoes struggling with the notion of them being covered in sand. The monkey then found a way of eradicating the sand by washing them in the ocean. Soon the other monkeys in the community slowly began to catch on and washed the sweet potatoes in the ocean. When the number of monkeys reached 100 later that day, the entire tribe caught on and began to wash their delicious sweet potatoes! The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough. The biggest surprise to this experiment was when the habit of washing the potatoes jumped over the sea and other colonies began replicating this approach.

When a certain number of people achieve a critical number, a new awareness can be passed on from mind to mind. All I’m really saying is that if there are limited numbers of people introducing new concepts it will stay the conscious property of those few people. At this point, the idea achieves critical and spills into the general population.  Truly this is the only reason I can account for so many humans doing the Macarena. It has to be why I’m a half step behind every time I go to the patent office with my brilliant inventions. Sayings, words, and gestures that one day seem original appear in popular commercial branding the very next day. 

So, remember next time you find something intriguing, instead of issuing a generic comment such as “interesting”, “fascinating”, or “wonderful”, you should probably just say “Game day bucket go boom!” (KFC)

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