While Maija Leivo and I were in Europe for this year’s MIPCOM conference we went to dinner with a friend from Discovery Channel and got talking about overcoming fear of doing things that make us – in our minds – look foolish.

For some this can be triggered when walking through a crowded restaurant looking for a seat for one, for others it may be sharing cuts of your film for the first time. It’s about putting ourselves out there – and therefore the potential for looking dumb looms large – and that mucky feeling of emotional distress follows.

This brings us to the 3D debate that rages amongst those who are invested in having stereo monitors and content in every house and on every channel.  They ask – what’s holding 3D back? I have heard it blamed on everything from the complex and expensive monitors to issues with accessing content to less-than-satisfactory 3D crippling consumer desire.

But there may be another facet to the debate worth considering. Simply put, people don’t want to look stupid. It’s that human condition where one doesn’t want to stand out.

For decades we have gone into stores and tried things on – shoes, headphones, sunglasses. It’s been made easy with familiarity and so-called expertise – but there is always that niggle of mindfulness that the potential of some person snickering and saying “boy, those look dumb”.

3D technology is in its retail infancy phase. That means it lacks the comfort associated with testing other, more established products. In order to check out a 3D TV for potential purchase we have to put 3D glasses on in public – and it’s not yet something we are used to.

The same goes for convincing all your buddies that your house is the best place to watch the super bowl with your new 3D TV – just have to put on these 3D glasses that make you look like Aristotle Onassis. This “new” experience seems to amplify self-consciousness – so it can be a tough sell.

While walking the floor at MIPCOM looking at other 3D vendors’ setups, I noticed that few potential viewers stopped to look at the visual spectacle that was on offer – mostly sports and a couple of soft-core porn vendors – but no one was lining up. If someone did stop and picked up the glasses, I could see they were actively overcoming their self-consciousness. Most just moved on because it looked like a hassle.

The lesson here is if we stick with what’s familiar, we often miss out. When people opt for their comfort zone instead of 3D glasses, they’re robbing themselves of a new experience. So next time you go into the 3D television section of the electronics store, try those glasses on. Snicker to yourself. And then enter the third dimension.

Ian Herring, President