4 min read

Are you ready to see what can't be unseen?

It’s freshman year, and my friend and I are waiting on my roommate, so we can go to a Welcome Week event together.

He comes out of his room looking fresh, wearing black jeans and an olive jacket.

My friend goes, “Hey, nice bomber jacket!”


Bomber jacket? My brain does like 17 mental backflips, trying to understand this word. Bomber jacket, bomber jacket…

When did you all learn what a bomber jacket is? I’ve been often told I lack much of what makes up common sense, so I might’ve been late on the uptake.

But the crazy thing is, now that I know what a bomber jacket is, I can’t unsee it.

Sure, when I first learned about it, I seemed to see it everywhere. I know that’s the Baader Meinhof effect. When you first learn a piece of information, your brain sees it as novel, and looks out for it.

But the Baader Meinhof effect has faded now, and still, I can never unsee bomber jackets. I don’t always notice, but if a person walks by me, and and they’re wearing one, and my eyes fix on their torso, I know they’re wearing one.

Clothing choices are often something you can’t unsee. Over time, I pick up more and more of what’s being worn around me, and wear some of it myself.

Partial list of fashion items I can’t unsee:

  • Rainbow flip flops
  • Soccer pants
  • Earrings (since my ears were pierced)
  • Partly tied hair (for girls)
  • Ties tied too short
  • Tapered napes vs. blocked napes
  • And much much more

Something I can’t unfeel:

Dry skin.

For the longest time, I didn’t notice I had crazy dry skin. On a conceptual level, sure, I understood people moisturize with lotion. But only recently, did I connect the dots to my own body and its feeling of dryness.

But now, I can’t go back… I’ll notice my face is dry and then I HAVE to moisturize. UGH

Something I can’t unhear:

The drumline in songs.

I used to suck at dancing—OK fine, I still suck—and my little brother pointed out the drumline in songs to help me dance to the beat. In that instant, he rocked my world. The track we were listening to burst into color in my ears.

Suddenly, I realized music is not just one sound, but many instruments at the same time.


OK, shut up, I know, crazy obvious. But my ears never picked them out before.

It’s like, I’m getting less and less blind (and less deaf) every day.

Business and marketing concepts I can’t unnotice:

I was in a 24 Hour Fitness locker room, and an ad for an obstacle course race played on the TV.

I had just read The Personal MBA, and my mind goes, what?!? 24 Hour Fitness is doing Audience Aggregation, one of the 12 standard forms of value?!? In addition to Resale of energy bars, and the Shared Resource that is the gym?!?

More recently, I can’t help but notice how to headlines (so clickable!), guest posts (vital for SEO), and community marketing (Indie Hackers, I see you).

Today, I read the Landing Page Cookbook. Now I can’t help but notice if a header image is a user image, a result image, a problem image, etc. And the presence of secondary CTAs, in case the user isn’t sold enough to click the primary CTA.

I’m becoming less and less blind… and it’s crazy!

It’s like after I learned about global freight the first week of working at Flexport. I’m like OMG! A shipping container! OMG! A pallet!


One final piece of craziness.

This will blow your mind. You ready?

Constructed realities

You ever notice, when you read a book, your mind fleshing out the the placement of characters, the background of a scene, the map of a city, to complement whatever imagery the book gives you?

Think back to a scene from a childhood book you loved. For me, Harry Potter. When you think back to a scene, what exactly does it look like? Is the room based on a real room? What’s the camera angle? Where are the characters in relation to one another?

The insides of the ship where Hagrid comes to pick up Harry, look oddly like my childhood apartment. Dudley is turned into a pig in the dining room, and the camera angle is from the kitchen.

Your mind cooks up so much more than is in the text!

I call this concept, constructed realities. I notice them all the time when reading.

What’s more, in books, I even construct a map in my head. If a character’s house leaves her house to go to another’s house, does your mind put those two together and create a map?

I 100% have a map in my head for Crime and Punishment. I can tell you, in my mind, the pawnbroker lady’s house is in the part of town directly opposite Raskolnikov’s.

When I realized this, I stopped looking at maps at the start of fantasy books, because I wanted to let my mind create the maps.

This is so dang cool, it probably deserved its own post.


In Conclusion

This headline is meta. Now you’ll notice whenever you notice something you can’t unnotice.

Be it:

  • Constructed realities
  • Shipping containers
  • Secondary CTAs
  • Drumlines
  • Bomber jackets