The Art of Bullshitting and Using it to Your Advantage

To start off, sorry: I don’t mean to be the wanna-be spiritual life advice giving person you see on your Instagram explore page, but hear me out on this one. From a young age, I always thought about what my main talent was or what it eventually could be. I had friends excelling in arts, maths, business, and even science. I on the other hand was just really good at talking and writing. It was at those counselling sessions where we’d have to think about what our main talents were and how we would want to build up on it once we choose what study we’d go for in uni where I thought “this might be harder than I thought”.

It was at the last year of high school where I realised my true talent was, and probably still is: “bullshitting” or “a whole lot of bla bla”. No joke. Growing up with a Dad who did cold calling sales, what else did I expect?

Although most people – especially my teachers at that time, won’t always agree with me, here’s how I decided to build up on that talent of mine and try to own it the best way possible. Okay, but to clear things up, I reworded the whole “bullshitting” part during the counselling sessions. I settled with something along the lines of “creative communicating”.

My Dad would spend hours on the phone calling potential clients, stopping for a cigarette break, and just continue dialing up people on his long list of names which I later eventually realised were involved (or were interested in being involved) in Indonesia’s booming oil industry at that time. It was as if he knew the exact words to say when it came to closing deals and earning the trust of complete strangers.

Which was surprising as he did have a bit of a Scottish accent with him (try to imagine pronouncing complex offers or terms and somehow convincing Indonesian clients?) It worked. It worked a lot. Go figure. But it wasn’t just because he kept to the books and made sure everything about whoever he was calling was checked time to time. It was – to what he described to me over lunch during my highschool days – to simply put: “concise and pure bullshit”. In other words, I guess he meant being a “wordsmith”, or a “persuasive communicator”. Whichever it was, it definitely helped my Dad closing those deals.

The solid combo: confidence and bullshit

There was and definitely still is, some sort of stigma when you choose to go study “communications”. “Orang yang ga tau mau ngapain biasanya ambil ilkom” or the classic downplay: “literally semua orang bisa ngambil ilkom”, the list just goes on. On behalf of all ilkom students: we’ve heard it before. Okay, I do believe that everyone and anyone can surely study communications, but to really get something out of it – now that’s not always straightforward. I mean for that same reason we could all study Hubungan Internasional or graphic design. Getting the real essence out of both, isn’t as easy. 

Spending about three years studying communications, the main things I think I probably excelled in were pitching, presenting, and writing. Now excelling in all three was down to that one trait I’m especially highlighting in this article. How did I manage to find the confidence in presenting in front of people? A solid combo: confidence and bullshit. Where do I continue to get ideas on what to write about? Confidence, and a whole lot of bullshit.

I mean, it’s all relative if you think about it

Changing the negative connotation of the word “bullshit” can be tough. Nobody wants to hold “the biggest bullshit-er title” even though we all know someone who wears it proudly. But, as with everything, the concept of what’s considered bullshit is purely relative. Sure we all know that if we were to look it up right now, the word “bullshit” best describes lies or, well, pretty much something that doesn’t give any value whatsoever. We’re used to dismissing every single absurd idea thrown at us with the word too.

It’s not always a bad thing to do – I mean some ideas really are downright and utter bullshit. In fact, a lot of things are “bad bullshit”. The words coming out of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Boys? Absolutely bad bullshit. Postponing the RUU PKS because it’s “susah”? Unbelievably, bad bullshit. Suddenly deciding to pick up your interest in photography and turning it into a creative outlet despite knowing you might not have a lot of time for it? Good bullshit. Spending €13 on an avocado-on-toast for brunch? Undebatable: bad bullshit. You see the differences here? I mean, bullshit saves you from taking risks that might not always be a good idea. But at the same time and quite ironically, bullshit helps you in taking those risks that you never know might turn out to be a good idea.

The point I’m saying, that little voice in your head telling you what to do – or what not to do? It can make a considerable difference. At the same time, it talks a lot of bullshit. But what if we could somehow use that bullshit detector in our head to our advantage? So far, I’ve pointed out two main benefits of having done so. One, is that the whole lot of bla bla is probably the fundamental driving force in how I continue to  occasionally creative write and communicate.

Two, is that it helped with actually trying out new things. Bullshitting is pretty much human nature. We do it all the time. Whether it be describing ourselves to others, talking about an experience we had, or making decisions, we shouldn’t be afraid to admit that we all do it from time to time. So be back on your bullshit – no, be even more into your good bullshit. Use it to your advantage. You’ll never know what wonders it might just do. You might just be the next Scottish man cold calling Indonesian clients for some offshore oil company.

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