I found myself thinking about New York this morning and how wonderfully ordinary and “cosy” it always feels when I visit it. This is in stark contrast to its media image. Probably more than most cities our sense of it is conditioned by the many hundreds of movies it has featured in, many of which emphasise its seamier side and almost invariably involve wide shots of its soaring sky scrapers and apparently inhuman scale.
But real people live there. People I know. Sitting in a local park on the lower east side feels like sitting in a park in east London. Mothers entertaining their kids, older blokes dozing on benches, people walking dogs. Reassuringly human.
We pay people to create the stories that make our world feel unreal. How odd.
We do the same in our organisations. We pay people to make up myths about our place of work, creating air brushed, gender balanced, multi-ethnic, happy to the point of insanity, images of “typical staff” spending a typical day happy at the administrative coal face.
The reality for most of us is very different from this. Fraught with very human challenges and struggling to make sense of what is happening around us.
Do the air brushed images help? Or do they exacerbate the sense of disconnection from reality?