In Defense of Donut Pictures (or Why The Mundane Matters)

We sometimes decry original, compelling content not getting its due, at least in the face of what we consider mundane, even inane. We lament that people pour out comments on pictures of cats or donuts or tweets about what you’re cooking for dinner and where you went on vacation. We can’t believe how such insipid content drives the behavior we so covet for our carefully crafted content.

But these are the tiny, familiar threads that tie us all together, mundane as they may seem.

So few of us truly share experiences, perspectives, or contexts. Our points of view are decidedly unique, which at times is amazing, and wonderful, and compelling. It’s also what can make it really complicated to find common ground. 

But the moments where we can all see a bit of each other in the joy of a frosted chocolate is more than just marveling at the mundane or lobotomizing our online experiences. It’s a way of looking at that person waaaaay over there, on the other side of the screen, and seeing ourself just the tiniest bit in the reflection. It’s a moment of not dwelling on the complex, heady things that we all have to deal with in our lives, and instead sharing something easy, lighthearted, or comfortably familiar. It’s finding someplace where we know for sure, even for a moment, that we relate and belong.

The compelling, the arresting, the artful wouldn’t nearly be so if it weren’t for the contrast with donut pictures of the world.

I’m okay with donuts in my stream, and the comments they get. Sometimes, in the midst of war and riots and politics and hate and economic despair and even internet grandstanding, a few sprinkles and pink frosting might be just the levity we need.

image credit: Valerie Reneé

  • Anonymous

    Nicely put! It IS comforting to see things we relate to – that are non-threatening. It’s a topsy-turvy world and nice to get away from that on occasion. Cheers.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Indeed it is. I like a little levity mixed in with my very serious stuff. :)

  • Anonymous

    Nicely put! It IS comforting to see things we relate to – that are non-threatening. It’s a topsy-turvy world and nice to get away from that on occasion. Cheers.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/111071516924332005124/posts John E. Williams

    This post reminds me of a tweet by Jason Falls, probably from over a year ago.  It went something like “I bare my soul and get three comments.  I say “bacon” and the internet crashes.  Heh.”

    Thanks, Amber.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Ha, I think I remember that tweet. :) Jason eloquence, as always.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stevegarfield Steve Garfield
    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Love them, Steve! And I happen to love Bok Choy. And now I’m hungry.

  • Anonymous

    Nice post, Amber. Leave it to you to turn a post about donuts into an awesome metaphor about the comfort in the small somewhat mundane things. Not only is it comforting (in moderation), but I’d also makes you seem more authentic and genuine. That’s the type of stuff that builds the foundation for great relationships.  

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      All things in moderation. :) But the “human” thing we talk so much about isn’t just about being friendly about your very important content, but about just being a normal person doing everyday things in amongst the business. Those are the people that I connect with most, like you!

  • http://hoop.la Rosemary ONeill

    Thanks for sharing the donut…I’m smiling over here :)

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I’m just trying not to crave one.

  • http://twitter.com/megfowler Meg Fowler

    That’s totally why I tried for #adwl on Monday: “a day without links” (and we’ll try again!) Not because I hate content or people sharing good information, but because I felt like I was missing these bits of life in the midst of everyone trying to be “strategic”. I’m not addicted to my Google reader, and I don’t click on every little thing that goes by, but I am totally fascinated by the way people live their lives, and what engages and satisfies them most in a day. 

    For example, I love reading your blog and seeing who has caught your eye with their writing. But I also love knowing about what you’re cooking, whether or not your dogs are making it through a thunderstorm, if you and your little one are having a good morning together, and what type of shoe is your go-to for staying comfy at conferences. 

    I feel like the first things I mentioned make you a good person to work with. The second set of things make you a great person to *know*.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I knew exactly why you were doing it, and I like the concept. I realize some people use social media as a means to an end; they just want to get on, share and get information, and move on. That’s fine. But me? The amazingly awesome relationships I’ve forged both personally and professionally I’m *convinced* have been because we’ve connected over everyday things, not just “strategic” things, as you say.

      That side of things matters. It’s the dimension that makes us interesting, I think. The one that creates affinities, or tells us who we want to steer clear of. :)

  • http://twitter.com/cision Yvette Pistorio

    Great post Amber! I agree with Donna that it is comforting to see things we relate to that are non-threatening. News of the world can be depressing, so when I see a picture of a donut/cookie/cupcake or any other type of dessert, it usually puts a smile on my face. Thanks!

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      In general I just like to see snippets of life in the day to day, whatever they are. It breaks things down into accessible pieces, and makes people feel closer somehow.

  • http://www.blueclover.com/ Tim Hayden

    The ver

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UMIDQF5N4AZFO5VCC7CLZSCVQQ Jason Stuart

    Plus without cat videos, the Interwebz would grind to a halt.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      It’s like the engine of the web, all those cats running around…

  • http://www.tinyjetpack.com Mike Fabio

    Well said. I’ve often wondered why sharing the mundane is so commonplace with a medum like, say, the telephone, but seemingly such a taboo with our various online channels.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      That’s an interesting point, Mike. We’re still in the state of marveling and dissecting the media and not the stuff that goes through them so much. :) Still thinking social is an exception to all the rules of communication. And while there are evolutions and differences, people don’t really change all that much. ;)

      • http://www.tinyjetpack.com Mike Fabio

        Also this: 

  • http://www.blueclover.com/ Tim Hayden

    The very “campfire” qualities of social media/networks that empower us to join in like-minded conversation only ignites the connections we have therein. You note exactly what drives us as humans to understand the more intimate preferences, style and tastes of our everyday lives is what turns those connections into relationships. A wonderful perspective, Amber…lest our lives be narrated by tragic news or popular thought — show me your donuts and [puppies]!

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      I love the campfire analogy. Now about my donuts…

  • http://readwriteweb.com Marshall Kirkpatrick

    eat ‘n’ tweet FTW!

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      You’re the perfect example, Marshall, because for all of the spectacular and substantive content you create and share, I love seeing the side of you that’s funny and in the everyday. :)

  • http://twitter.com/Lorneh2 Lorne Havisto

    Interestingly enough, I check stuff of mine that was retweeted, it seems food is big, lots of retweets if I mention food. I have only mentioned my cat once and it was retweeted as well. The fact that it was retweeted by a ferret (apparantly) is a whole different dynamic. So much for working on compelling content and strategy. Mmmmm donuts!

  • lisavgray

    Just visited a one-room museum last week on Peaks Island, Maine that takes this idea and raises it to the sublime – check it out here:

    http://www.umbrellacovermuseum.org/UCM.org/Home.html

  • http://equinejointsupplements.blogspot.com Ricardo

    Your analysis was very good. I agree with you.  I like the post. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!

  • Anonymous

    This is the just the kind of inspiration I need to get blogging again. Thanks! 

  • Anonymous

    This is the kind of inspiration I need to get blogging again. Thanks! 

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  • Pack

    I just read over this, and you didn’t really say anything or address a subject. This article is just filled with big buzz words. Nobody can gain any shred of knowledge from this article. In fact, I think it made me stupider.

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  • http://twitter.com/RachelAtPPM Rachel Minihan

    Whohoo – LOVE this post.  I too am OK with donuts!

  • http://twitter.com/RachelAtPPM Rachel Minihan

    Whohoo – LOVE this post.  I too am OK with donuts!

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