Think about all the political anger and outrage that we direct at a politician. What if we focused all that energy on electing someone better.
Imagine if all the @replies, retweets, shares and Facebook comments about the faux outrage of the day were redirected to amplifying good works and inspiring leaders.
Trolls feed off outrage. Their battery packs are recharged with anger and vitriol. Imagine these monsters standing on the top of a mountain in the middle of raging storm and holding a lightning conductor. The more lightning strikes they get hit with, the more powerful they become.
Starve these the trolls, and they curl up and shrink. They can stand on top of the mountain all day on a beautiful sunny day and won’t get one lightning strike. Next time you feel anger boiling up inside of you. Don’t engage. Redirect that energy into something constructive. You’ll starve the nasty beasts and build something great.
A couple of people have asked me why I haven’t switched to Medium as a publishing platform. Medium is beautiful and elegant, and I value the highlight function. I also think that Ev Williams has zeroed in the problem with traditional media and how its livelihood is tethered to the advertising model, clickbait and page views. The popularity of a piece doesn’t correlate to the journalistic quality; hence something salacious generates more revenue than a well researched long-form article on Climate Change or political corruption. I think the Medium team has the brainpower and dry powder to make a dent and help solve the problem, but it’s hard to ask writers to go along for the ride when their livelihood or lifework depends on it.
Until the publishing revenue model is fixed, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Medium will continue to morph, experiment and adapt to survive. They’ll do what’s in the best interests of their shareholders, their advertisers and their employees.
I’ve been on WordPress for years and won’t be changing. My rational years ago and today are the same. Writers have to own their domain. It needs to be portable and backed up, and if the underlying platform changes then they can set up shop somewhere else.
Sometimes function trumps form.
If you have a gambling problem, then don’t go to Las Vegas even if the best show in the world is playing on the strip.
If you can’t say no to that last drink, then stay away from bars.
If you are addicted to nicotine, then don’t hang out in the smoking lounge.
If you are trying to kick caffeine, then stay away from coffee shops.
If you are addicted to the endorphin kick from social media, then delete the apps like Facebook or Instagram that suck you in. Turn off push notifications and opt out of the email. There are brilliant people at these companies whose sole job, compensation and bonuses are centered on getting you to spend more time scrolling through the feed. Sadly a lot of them could be applying that same expertise to nobler causes, but money talks and principles walk out the door.
If there are people you follow on Twitter who spew negativity, hate, and decisiveness and in the process make you feel pretty shitty then unfollow them.
Don’t try to control these vices; you need to flee from them. Keep away from the hooks, and you won’t get sucked in. Addictive vices are seductive, so to counter the gravitational pull you have to engineer your life and habits to avoid them. Associate with people that reinforce good habits and keep you on track. Sometimes the best way to beat something is to run away.
Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.
There’s no social media version for a face to face conversation with a friend. With everyone spread out across the globe these days the next best thing is a conversation over the phone. The best version of this is a video chat. Texting via Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, Snapchat are essential communication tools – they help you communicate, but they don’t connect you with people on a deeper level.
Even though our smartphones have the word phone in them, we use them more for other things like email, social media, work and entertainment.
To stay in touch, you’ve got to make the time to be there in the moment. Video chat, phone and face to face is the best way to connect.
Persistence is the secret ingredient to long term growth. I’ll use writing as an example. Check out non celebrity writers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or WordPress. They write something most days (normally multiple things) and their followers start to expect a post on a daily basis. Some posts will be good, some brilliant and some forgettable – the point is that it’s dependable and persistent. Over time their readers see the musings and writings of the author as companion pieces to the day – like a morning coffee.
There’s the January gym crowd who start off with a bang and putter out around February, then there are the lifers who show up every morning and slowly get fit and stay fit. Lifers don’t have New Year’s resolutions because they have a standing daily exercise appointment that they don’t miss. It’s the same with writing. Never miss the appointment.
Persistence is underrated and underused because people think it’s obvious and table stakes for success. The reality is that most people give up early, so it normally does come down to the last person standing who gets the prize.
Show up every day. Persist
“Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” – Raymond Joseph Teller
Staying in touch is different than friending, following or subscribing to someone on a social network. Facebook is a community of digital contacts and it’s an awesome vehicle to communicate, but don’t confuse digital connections and digital browsing with seeing someone in the flesh. I know there’s a diaspora of people across the world and that’s what makes social networks so great, but I’m talking about being physically proximate with your community, neighbors and friends.
If you stopped using Facebook tomorrow, how many people would notice? I mean really notice. How many people would be knocking on your door, walking around to the back door, peering in a window or phoning to check in? Compare that to the reaction from friends, family and co-workers who are in physical contact with on a regular basis. I’m talking about a morning run together, popping in for tea, walk and talks at lunch time, kid’s play dates, weekend coffee meetups…that’s what “being in touch” means. It’s not scrolling down a digital news feed and flicking through photos for a quickie endorphin hit.
Networks like Facebook and Twitter are a means to communicate and organize. Check out the Women’s Marches that were organized across the country…and it all started with a small group on Facebook. What’s even more awesome is that the Facebook group manifested into a physical march for millions of people. What gave it power was the physical manifestation. Physical contact nurtures the soul and makes the connection real.
Be proximate with your community and be in touch. It’s good for the community and it’s good for you.
p.s. thanks to Stephen Bartels for inspiring this post and Lindsay Bartels for the edits
What a pity that Instagram removed the ability to view photos within the Twitter feed. In doing so they turned the ability to quickly review a potentially crappy photo into a full blown time waster. Not every photo is relevant to me, so in a way a photo is just like a tweet … it needs to be easy to skim like 140 characters. I can then choose to engage or move on.
I view the majority of my photos via Twitter (I use Twitter way more than I use FB) and it’s a schlepp to click through into Instagram site and I’d rather not. The new Twitter photo app is painful but I’ll learn and the UI will get better. In the interim I’m using the Flickr App and might stick with it.
Hubris may end up being Instagram’s fatal flaw. My hunch is they’ve overestimated user loyalty and underestimated the power of the Twitter platform. I for one will stick with Twitter and continue to share photos that can be quickly accessed within the feed. I’m already filtering out instagr.am pic links, in favor of Twitter pics and Flickr
I get it that FB and Twitter are competing for people’s time and that Instagram is trying to become the next Twitter, but this move has inconvenienced me and pushed me away. Instagram may have miscalculated here … it’s very slick photo sharing app that hit the market at the perfect time, but it might find out that convenience trumps fancy filters.
UPDATE: Today Instagram released a new terms of service that has alienated its loyal users. Instagram can now sell your photos to third parties for advertising without telling you. Here’s the link