Toward a definition of seriousness

Yesterday I interviewed Jake Bronstein, the creator of Flint + Tinder and Buckyballs. There was something about him I really liked. “He’s so serious,” I told someone.

But then I realized how much I laughed during our interview – more than usual. Bronstein joked about all the favors he’s asked of his family, and how his visits home are just a succession of menial chores as payback. He pointed out the shirtless, hairless, oiled-up, bulky male models in underwear ads. (Flint + Tinder’s main product is men’s underwear.)

I’ve been told all my life that I’m too serious, and I always bristle at that accusation. It’s good to be serious, I think. It’s good to want to achieve things, to not waste time. And I have my silly moments, just like Bronstein does. So what does it really mean to be serious?

I think it’s this: to hold strong values. In other words, to have things that you really care about, to respect those things, and to show it with your actions.

Bronstein obviously cares deeply about making quality men’s clothes that are made in America. It’s clear when you talk to him that he’s being genuine; it’s not just marketing-speak. If someone were to morph into a totally different person when the cameras shut off, that would be unserious to me.

This definition can explain a lot. For example, an acquaintance of mine is very serious about fun. He values his time on earth, and he thinks it should be as epic as possible. So I often see him ranting on Facebook that his colleagues are boring: they do the same, dull thing every night. It turns out you can be serious even about fun – about things that aren’t related to work at all.

And being serious doesn’t mean you can’t joke. Another example: Fred is very serious about teaching dance with good technique. But if he surprised his dance class with hilarious but technically skilled choreography for “Gagnam Style,” that would still be serious. If another teacher “jokingly” taught his class bad posture, or backwards steps, that wouldn’t be serious – that person is showing that he doesn’t really care about quality dance.

So it appears if you’re serious, it has to be about something. I’m serious about learning and creating knowledge, which is why I spend my days writing for Tech Cocktail.

What are you serious about?

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One thought on “Toward a definition of seriousness

  1. Pingback: A Month of Self-Improvement | Kira M. Newman

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