We’ve often talked here about what it takes to reach that pinnacle of success in the online world that so many strive for. Over the last few months, and after a lot of observation, it seems like ultimately, to “take it to the next level,” you have to be willing to run some people over.
There are a couple of reasons for this, probably. First, running someone over, say, in a blog post, is almost assured to get you a lot of traffic. If I sat here and stirred a rumplebutt against any well-known person, I would be sure to get a lot of traffic and a lot of comments. My name would pop up everywhere. I could write a post naming all of the things I’ve seen in the online world that have driven me bonkers and have made me want to gnaw my arm off. I could use names to write that post to really make sure I was getting attention. I could link to posts that I thought were stupid and I could say that that author was clearly off their nut. I could do all of that.
And you know what – it would probably make this blog site skyrocket.
Isn’t that sad?
The red team and the blue team
The longer I stay online, the more various teams and alliances become apparent to me. In my particular case we’ll call them the red team and the blue team. I met the red team first. These folks talked to me and supported me well before most folks on the blue team did. I didn’t even know there were teams when the red team started talking to me, in fact. I was just feeling darn skippy that this online thing was in fact resulting in me being able to communicate with people (there was some question about that for awhile). As I started to meet new people and learn about new blogs, I started feeling like the online world was Sir Thomas More’s Utopia come true. Then one day, I signed into Twitter and saw a red team member and a newly defined blue team member having an epic brawl right there in the public stream.
Oh. That was an eye opener, my friends.
Undeterred, I continued to meet people, and still do. But as I do, I notice that they tend to be affiliated, loosely or tightly, with one team or the other. And it’s becoming easier and easier to see where those lines are.
A lot of teams and organizations have a sort of hazing process you have to go through to gain acceptance. Back when I was in college a new frat member was stupidly invited to walk through a glass door to get in, which he proceeded to do. It seems like the best way to really solidify your place on one online team or the other is to write a post totally deboweling a person from the opposite team. This can be done with a call-out, calling BS, or other such. You’ve seen these posts, no doubt. Now you can also write a super nice post about someone on the team you want to be affiliated with, but that doesn’t always get you as far. If you’re willing to “be brave” and call someone out on your blog site, you get a lot more notice and positive feedback.
As I have said before here, I remain unaffiliated.
The really tragic part
The sad part of all of this is not that I will probably never achieve the same kind of Twelebrity that team members do. I mean, that’s pretty sad. Being mean to step up in the world is crap. At least in my opinion. But the really sad thing is that most of these folks on these juvenile teams are utterly brilliant. They all have great ideas. And you know what else? They all have great hearts. They are all kind. The support and friendship I have gotten from both sides of this ridiculous divide has been stunning. And yet there is such vitriol that I feel I am betraying some folks merely by talking to other folks.
The last time I witnessed something like this to this extent – fifth grade. FIFTH GRADE, people. And many of you are in your 30/40/50s. Many of you are respected business owners. Many of you have kids for whom you are setting an example (because if you think they don’t see how you act online, you are CRAZY).
So I’m calling you all out. There are better ways to communicate. There are better ways to set the bar high than to invite controversy, name-calling, bashing, and other things that this current online environment propagates. All individuals who participate in this kind of garbage are to blame. Both teams are guilty of making the online world a little bit more stupid and immature. Both. It is not “brave” to call someone out on a blog site that you know your supporters read. To me, that is more chicken than just keeping your mouth shut.
Don’t get sucked in
Maybe you don’t see these team divisions where you are in the online world. Maybe your red and blue teams are different from the ones in my experience. In any case, if you see teams developing or if you get an invite that says that if you write a super nasty post about someone you’ll be in like flynn, avoid the temptation. What no one seems to understand is that online badgering just makes you the badgerer look bad. It might get you to a more successful place from some perspectives, but you’ll be selling your soul to do it.
My soul is a little more valuable to me than some Twelebrity.
How about you?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncanh1/4549360274/ via Creative Commons