• Midhun Krishnakumar

Avoiding Intellectual Masturbation

It’s a designer’s parasite. You’ll get to know what it was as you read. It takes some unique incidents to register and make us realise all the wrong things we do . I had one such incident which changed my perspective on how to get things done on a day to day basis.

The Background

The heading is rather catchy and it could be the reason that this lesson sticked with me for so long!. It was 3rd year in my Bachelors in college. Even after being in Industrial design, I had my unique aversion towards workshop skill courses. I was more of a critical thinker and dreamer who was least interested in hands-on prototyping. I stuck with 3D modelling. This is when Mr Sahil Thapa came as our faculty for basic electronic course. Being a young faculty amidst us, we all bonded with him quickly. Along with my co-dreamers We had monumental ideas of what we wanted to do and started creating 3D CAD models. We were trying to avoid the workshop as much as possible during these times.

One-to-one sessions

We came to an understanding that we need 12 different electronic components to make this product. We approached the institute to buy these components but days passed and there was no reply from them. We used this as a great excuse to run away from making things in class. We were interested in the course but we met with a dead end and even as designers we couldn’t come up with an alternative. Again there was no limit for our imagination. We were dreaming of using voice assistants to create a PA system for our college and so on. The time came for our mid course progress evaluation. Sahil came to me and asked me to explain the idea which I presented with rendered 3 D models and a classy deck. Then he wanted to see the actual product development. Without wasting any time I started off ranting on how the college couldn’t provide us with required materials and so on. He listened to my entire story and was curious to know about some things.

Sahil: So, The college is not supporting in terms of resources huh?

Me: Yeah we were running behind them all these while…no use..

Sahil: So do you know from where they buy these materials?

Me: Yea, It’s somewhere in Vijayawada, I can find that out.

Sahil: Oh that’s great… Do you have enough money for your purchases

Me: Yea , We can arrange!

Sahil : Then what’s stopping from going and purchasing them your self?

I heard crickets in the background.

Sahil: Words can build monuments on clouds and there will never be a shortage of new idea. But if you want to know whether your ideas would work, You need to stop your Intellectual Masturbation in class.

I felt like someone shredded me and used it to light a bonfire. He gave me the rest of the day off and asked me to leave for Vijayawada immediately. I wandered around the place to find this shop and finally came across the electronics market. From that moment I felt I need to change the way I do things. This realisation had come a bit late in my college life but it was well needed. Never again I had depended on people to get something done for myself. It was not just about the course but the smaller things in life.

How to avoid it.

Take any day to day activity that you perform and look into it. List out all activities do you depend on other people to get things done. How many times have to taken the blame because others couldn’t keep up to the deadlines? Understand and introspect these moments and find alternatives. There are millions of alternatives to get things done. As long as its ethical, there shouldn’t be a problem.

Since then, Each time I got a new idea and I had to prototype them, I went out in search of all these materials. I approached people who had expertise in the related fields to clear my doubts. I never wasted any time in extended preparation. I started acting more and getting first hand results. It improved my confidence and expertise in many fields and I am always thankful to Sahil for opening my eyes. I really hope that none of us would ever resort to just intellectual masturbation. Rather start acting on solving the issues at hand early and effectively.


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