How LOST Makes You Crazy, Obsessed, and Paranoid

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LOST just ended. My and Karie‘s unhealthy obsession with the show got me thinking about why, exactly, the show is so ridiculously captivating.

It really sucks you in.

My fiance√© Kate and her college roommate spent an entire Saturday watching the first 10 DVD episodes straight through. They got pizza delivered to their door so they didn’t have to leave. I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time on Lostpedia reading about the little connections, theories and minutiae. There is so much going on and so many questions:

  • Why doesn’t Hurley lose weight?
  • Why does Jack have a son after he dies but not in real life?
  • Why do the ice station people speak Portuguese?

And so on.

You can get as into it as you want. Some people just like the story. Others, like me, watch the background in every scene looking for hidden clues. And stay up late reading about it on the internet.

I will admit that I’m weird. I have a compulsion to find out everything about things that pique my interest. My recent Google searches include Archduke Ferdinand (One guy started WWI? Come on), armadillo (A mammal that looks like a lizard. Must know more.) and how to spell letters (h is “aitch”!).

But LOST has held my short attention span for years.

Here are some reasons why, plus ways you can apply these to your business and marketing.

4 ) They Don’t Pander

Don’t assume that you have to dumb everything down to be appealing or effective. People love it when you make them feel smart.

Your customers actually read long website pages. Really! Check your Analytics.

A ton of characters on LOST are named after famous scientists or philosophers, like

Viewers can enjoy the plotlines without looking up the characters’ namesakes. But for the die-hard fans like myself and Karie, knowing these little details adds another layer of meaning to what’s going on.

So don’t assume that your customers won’t get excited about your newest process or innovation. They could be really psyched in knowing all about it!

8 ) There’s Always a Mystery

People hate that LOST never answers any questions. One episode ends in a cliffhanger and the next one takes place 4,000 miles away, 400 years ago. Then that one answers 2 questions you had 3 seasons ago, and raises 15 new ones.

But…I…just…couldn’t…stop…watching…

No matter how frustrated I got, I stuck it out. I pressed “Next” on the DVD player. I watched the next week. Something might be revealed, I just couldn’t miss it.

The lesson: don’t give it all away at once. Make yourself mysterious. Got a new product concept? Drop little clues on your Twitter page. Leak some press. Shroud yourself in some mystery.¬† Stoke imaginations!

15 ) It’s Easy to Get and Stay on Board

LOST is the first show in history where you have to watch every episode to even have a chance of understanding what’s happening. Most people actually do watch every episode for two reasons:

First off, the episodes are impossible to summarize. Catching people up on other shows is easy. Like, “Marissa got in a fight with Ryan and Seth had to choose between Summer and Anna.” Oh, OK. I’m all set for the next one. I get it.

With LOST, it’s “Well Richard is actually a 17th century Spanish prisoner who came to the island in a big storm and the water was so high that his ship (the Black Rock) knocked over the four-toed Egyptian statue and washed up in the middle of the jungle. Then the Man in Black killed everyone but Richard, freed him, pretended to be good and tried to get him to kill Jacob. Jacob then almost drowned Richard, they made up and he gave him eternal life. Oh and Hurley can talk to Richard’s dead wife 400 years in the future and knows where he buried her special necklace.”

Yeah, I’d rather just watch the episode, thanks.

Second, before shows on DVD and the Internet it was impossible to expect your audience to have seen every episode. Too many people had other things to do. If you missed a new episode of Seinfeld in the nineties you had to wait for syndication to see it.

I watched the first 3 seasons of LOST on DVD, and was just as up-to-date as someone who watched them all live. When I missed an episode during the season I just watched it on ABC.com before the next one. Feeding my addiction was easy and the plotlines assumed everyone had seen every prior episode.

Make yourself equally as accessible. Dave Ramsey does this real well. He’s got a radio show, sure, but also an awesome website with a ton of useful content, podcasts, blogs, newsletters, calculators, a store, everything. People can just listen to the show, or they can read everything on his site, listen to his podcast, and read all his books. There’s something for everyone’s interest level. Be the same resource for your customers.

16 ) It’s the People, Stupid!

LOST producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse get harassed by people wanting LOST answers. Their response is that the only thing that matters, the only important thing in the show, the only way to understand it and keep sane, is to look at the characters.

You can’t get mixed up in things you don’t understand because you’ll go crazy; just focus on the human aspect of it all.

The same is true in business. People don’t want to “connect with a brand”, they want to do business with people. They like interaction and value relationships. We’re shaped by the people around us. Make it about the people, nothing else matters!

(CUE XANDER’S UNIFIED THEORY OF LOST: It’s a sweeping allegory for life itself. We don’t understand why we’re here or what’s going on around us but all we have is each other.)

Two mysteries for you:

  1. The next numbers.
  2. What’s the other show?

Tags: characters of lost, lost, lost characters, lost finale, what's going on in lost