I’ll be the first to admit that are many subjects about which I have little or no knowledge, though with any conversation of length, you’d find that I am a premier bullshitter of the highest calibre (I wanted to use the British spelling so you’d know just how cool I am, even at the expense of the little red line telling me I misspelled it). Even though I know which side the shrimp fork is on, I’m not what you’d call “cultured” nor do I run in the upper echelon. But one thing I do know is that if you want to “get things done,” you either have to “know the right people” or you have to be willing to make sacrifices. Since I do not know those people, I would consider this harangue the sacrifice. Because even though I know this has the potential to make a great deal of money, the potential positive social effect means more to me. And if someone smarter and more “in the know” than I can bring it to fruition, then it will all be worth it.
About ten years ago, I was sitting on the BART train going into the city during peak commute time and (of course) the train was packed, shoulder to shoulder, with people, serious looks on their faces, mindlessly staring down at their phones so as to avoid even the hint of eye contact. Being a student of body language and human behavior, I would, on occasion, look up and scan the car just to see “what’s going on.” The real reason I was doing it was because I was hoping that someone….anyone…..might look up and make eye contact, giving even the slightest indication that they were thinking or feeling the same way I was at that very moment.
No such luck.
But then it occurred to me, what were people seeing when they looked at me? Were they seeing a callous and jaded individual shaped by years of trauma, guarding himself against being hurt again and covering it up with a scowl that would scare away a blind person?
Or maybe were they looking through glasses blurred by their own trauma, incapable of seeing even the most overt kindness. God forbid it was both.
But then I had an epiphany. What if we had an excuse to wear our hearts on our sleeve? What if our insides were on our outsides? No mask we could wear would scare someone away. Because we’d be wearing the truth. And after a LOT of rumination, I came up with the Chat Charm (full credit goes to my little buckaroo for coming up with the name)
Inside this overly bulbous noggin of mine, I pictured a miniature “Funko pop” style figure (that are maybe 1”-1.5” tall) that come four to a sleeve, each one representing a potentially different “subject” (like sports, movies, TV, current events, etc. I’m spitballing here). Each one of these figures would have on it a fiber optic light (imagine a Christmas tree light) that can change colors, the activation of which would/could represent the wearer’s “mood” or “position” on the subject in question (or willingness to talk about the aforementioned subject if the light is on or off). The figure(s) could be worn on a standard or custom made lanyard and would be available in various levels of “collectability” (again, spitballing, but imagine the “standard” level which is mass produced, as well as bronze [#’d to 1000] / silver [#’d to 500] / gold [#’d to 100] / platinum [#’d to 10] versions that are increasingly more expensive). The initial “models” would be basic (something along the lines of a basketball/football/baseball/hockey puck for sports and a movie slate/a reel/popcorn tub/soda cup as examples) and then with a buildup of capital, potential purchasing of licensing rights for sports teams and movie characters (one of the first figures I imagined was an Iron Man figure where the fiber optic light was either in the chest or hand). There are more possibilities than I can list here but you get the idea. You have to understand that my brain is thinking about this from two distinctive areas: the social implications and the business possibilities. From the business perspective, I think they would be inexpensive and easy to manufacture and the profit margin would be significant. As far as the social implications go, well, the guy on the BART train sure would have liked to have had tangible proof there was someone else out there that wanted to talk as much as he did, even if it didn’t look like it from the outside.
And would I like to be the CEO of Chat Charm, Inc with the high falutin’ job and the big corner office with the assistant? Sure, why not. But if I have to choose, I’d rather be the guy that turns on the news and sees that the world is finally getting along a little better because we all learned to have a real conversation with each other. So I’m leaving it in the hands of some “angel” with more brains and money than I have who can develop what I see as both a potential moneymaker and a social movement (perhaps with an accompanying app where you create a profile that morphs into a community that fundraises for various charities when that’s a thing again? See the Chive as a template for that function. And maybe the app can show you where other charmers are so you can connect with those who want to chat, ultimately identifiable by the one they are wearing?). I’ve got a gut feeling it will work. Now that you know what to do, get to work…..:)