3 min read

Every Map Serves A Purpose

The other day I read an essay by Frank Chimero called What Screens Want and there is part where he links to a West Wing clip explaining how our world map isn't correct. Yes, it is correct init's purpose which was to give a picture or naval routes. In order to accomplish accuracy for naval routes something needed to be sacrificed, the size and proportions of land. Below is the traditional world map in black outline and the Peters Projection map which is supposed to be more accurate in displaying the scale of the land masses.

This was something I couldn't stop thinking about for days and I wasn't really sure why it felt like such a big deal to me until the other day. The other day I realized that this meant so much to me because it seemed to capture a feeling that I have had for a long time.

The map that our culture has given us is one that is taking us to the goal of financial security, which sure there is the necessity of finances but I have never agreed with that being a priority. It is funny that for someone to spend $20,000 and two years to travel and grow their understanding of the world and explore skills like photography and journalism seems foolish, where they would be seen as foolish to spend the same and go to school for journalism. Why? Because university used to get you a good job and you need to get a good job so that you can save and work hard so that eventually you can retire and then enjoy your life. Can we finally come to terms that for the most part a degree isn’t necessary for different paths of life. Can we agree that although it doesn’t make sense on our traditional map, it may be because the traditional map is trying to take us somewhere that we don’t want to go.

Personally I have very little interest in prioritizing retirement with a comfortable bank account or frankly plans to retire at all. What is my final destination? I would love to enjoy the people I love, create with community and be the best human I can. If this is my goal the map I must follow needs to be different. The “accuracy” of the map is defined by the intended use.

The day after realizing some of these things with Drew I got an email in my inbox from Tobias can Schneider announcing that he had left his job on the design team at Spotify. In that he said:

"If you would ask some friends or colleagues, they would tell you I traded everything for nothing. It's a logical response to someone who just left the familiar well payed job, heading towards the unknown.

If you ask me, I'd tell you that I just traded a little something, for everything else. And that's why I consider it exciting news. Rushing into the unknown is exhilarating."

Of course if you are looking at the map towards financial security and senior position at a growing tech company wouldn’t make sense to leave to take the risk of creating your own thing. If the priority is creating, about feeling purpose, about engaging in your work and enjoying the process why would he stay in a job that is stealing that from his life? Why would anyone? No amount of "security" is worth that.

Tobias perfectly voiced how I felt in that email:

"I have a different understanding of what security means to me. Getting a monthly salary, running on company insurance, having a company phone contract, free lunch etc. makes me anxious. I feel as I'm locked in a cage, even though it might be a golden one. (yes, first world problems)

All I do, and all I own is not in my hands. While some would see a monthly salary as secure, I see it as the opposite. I'm afraid of getting comfortable, losing control over my own circumstances, not being myself anymore. These things have a big impact on my health & well being."