September 26, 2011

Should You Stop Being Nice?



‘Wonderful post’

‘you are awesome’

‘so inspiring’

Lovely, isn’t it? Getting positive feedback and public endorsement online.

Writing this as mum to a teenager whose maths score went from B to A* overnight, after a fine teacher said ‘your brain does maths easily and you should be more confident about this’.

BUT – is it just me? – or is online content choc-a- bloc with mindless gushing? Gushing that is non- specific, so not especially useful feedback and more about the giver sensing ‘Here’s an opportunity for me to get attention for myself as a nice person’.

BUT. Nice doesn’t hack it in today’s economy. Nice isn’t useful, progressive or teaching anyone anything. Nice, especially amongst the tsunami of people claiming to be online marketing experts, doesn’t point to the vital question: where and what are emerging markets?

We know why we do it, the nice stuff. As Freud identified, we human beings engage in a survival battle through life to do with ‘how much do I connect and merge with others and how much do I stay apart and distinctive?’ Yes, the old identity crisis.

And when we spot content we admire and a person we identify with, in a context where we are commenting promiscuously, it’s easy to get carried away. (I’ve done it myself. Send those comments over if you like.)

But for the general good of focussing and refining web content, it may be worth considering:

Are enough of us asking: ‘Do I sound like a creep here?’

In a fascinating talk last week, UX expert Giles Colbourne discussed the differences between ‘expert’ designers and ‘mainstream’ consumers. This is a similar idea to Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘mavens’ ( nerds in any discipline ) and ‘generalists’.

Is it possible a lot of time and energy is being spent by people being nice generalists online for little return, when they and we, their audience, would be more engaged by the parallel example, the idea development, an illustration from a different context?

God forbid – we might even countenance the opposite view, well articulated…

So what I’m suggesting here is that if you are at all uneasy and unfulfilled by your online behaviour, maybe it’s time to turn maven or expert. To drill down deeper and deeper into your subject matter to get richer knowledge to share. For example the differences between:

bland

Perhaps it’s time for some of us to contribute less frequently, but to make our content about something useful we’ve learnt rather than something we are mindlessly regurgitating.

Some of this relevant to you? Then get on down, people.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. You sure know how to raise the bar for giving comments. I, like you, prefer to give comment with a bit of beef, so to say … but … in this case that is a hard job. I do not want to sound like a creep and at the same time I would like to say: Wonderful post … you are awesome … so inspiring.

    Thanks,
    Crystal.

    Reply
  2. Thanks Crystal – and may I say having strolled over to your blog – creeps are never as focussed as you… They are too busy going round in circles…Your blog a great eg of this is what we do here, this is what we offer. Most clearly expressed. Admirable and gush-free!

    Reply

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