Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Killing The Bluebird To Find Happiness
Most artists who have a website and/or blog end up joining social networking sites at some point. While some people find those to work out very well and be a wonderful tool to use in their business, others don't.
If you read my blog then you know I am not a big fan of those sites. I gave up on Twitter (that's the killing the bluebird part) long ago and was happier for it, and Facebook still vexes me because I find it convoluted and very user unfriendly...but I still make feeble attempts with Facebook.
If you belong to this type of site, one of the main goals is to expand your social network. People follow us and we follow others, we receive friend requests, etc. We usually tend to accept these without much thought as to who is offering and why. I've done it, we all have. Most of the people who send requests are very nice, friendly people who share common interests with us.
This afternoon I was reading a blog post about someone who was encountering a problem on one of these sites. It reminded me of two conversations with artist friends I have had in the past few months, one had an issue on Twitter and the other on Facebook. So this post is dedicated to my two friends, and anyone else who has encountered this problem.
If you are online long enough and put yourself out there you are inevitably going to run into someone who is less than kind. In fact you might run into someone who is downright nasty without cause.
Now when I have run into these people, the first thing I do is give them the benefit of the doubt. Is it possible I misinterpreted their words or intent? It's easy to do when you don't hear voice inflections and see facial expressions. I tend to speak in a straight forward manner and I have been misinterpreted many times in both what I was saying and my intent. The thing I get most often is that people think I am mad, when in fact I am not at all. The internet is kind of a funny thing, people tend to take the worst interpretation of anything as a default mode. Also when someone voices an opinion or doesn't make a pretty, fluffy post people sometimes rail against it. I am not sure why that is. Life isn't one giant picture postcard.
But other times what is said cannot be misinterpreted. So if I encounter someone who is being less than kind, I still try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I like to believe that most people are basically nice, but everyone has an off day now and again. Believe me, I have off days...I am human. I ask myself is this really the character of the person, or is something going on in their real life that is making them type these things as an outlet.
However there are always going to be a small handful of people who get very brave thanks to the anonymity of the net and turn into keyboard commandos. It can be easy for some to be cruel to someone when they don't have to look them in the eye.
So what happens when you encounter one of these people? Having hate or anger aimed at us can be very hurtful if it comes out of the blue, or you don't feel as if you have done anything wrong.
You might think someone making bad comments about you as an artist or your work will effect your business. It can seem like a really big deal! The truth is, the internet is a very big place and people have short memory spans. Even if a handful of people do read what is said, they will either be discerning enough to know it's not true, or they won't remember it in a week anyway so relax. It's not going to ruin your business. It will probably only ruin your day.
If you come across one of these people who is out to make trouble, if you can't talk to them and reason with them...remove them from your list of friends or followers. Most sites have a way to block people. You don't have to take it though.
The next thing I suggest is really think about these sites. Do you enjoy tweeting and posting to facebook? Is it working for you? If it is, that's great. Don't let a rotten apple spoil it for you. But if it's just taking up time, maybe it's time to let go of that particular site. You're not obligated to join them just because other artists do. There are other sites out there that are more specialized to what you do that you might find make you happier.
The next time someone you don't know sends a friend request or follows you, take a second to look at their profile before you accept. My best rule of thumb about people on the internet is this:
If I wouldn't invite them into my house through my front door, why would I invite them in through my computer screen!
Click here to go to the site that created the image above and graciously put it up for free, if you want to use it! They also offer one in favor of Twitter.
***No bluebirds were actually harmed in the making of this post!***