All conversations are not created equal.
When it comes to Blogs, you might think differently. After all, if I decide to start a Blog on ultra-portable laptops and Sony decides to do the same, we're both starting from the same position of zero readers, zero comments and equal opportunity to reach the exact same audience. Yes, Sony could leverage all of their Marketing capabilities it has in place to ramp it up way faster than some individual in their basement, but the spirit of equality does live. Anyone - individual, entrepreneur or multi-national corporation - can now publish their message to the world.
In its purest, democratized state, all Blogs are created equal.
Many years back I read Dan Millman's excellent book, Way Of The Peaceful Warrior (don't bother with the movie, read the book - it's much better). It is part motivation, part sociology, part life lessons and part inspiration. For someone like myself (with a background studying various martial arts), the concepts and spirit of the writing always stuck with me. Even in the darker parts of the book, it shines with hope.
I noticed that it has been a very long while since I've engaged in any kind of flame war online. In fact, I can't remember the last time I deep-dived into the comments section on a Blog post to really fight for something I believed in. I did this today for the first time in a long time and I did not like what I saw.
I didn't like the way I sounded. I didn't like the way others responded and - worse of all - I found find myself nodding in agreement for those who saw things the way I did, and I found myself screaming "morons!" about those who didn't. And then it struck me, some conversations are not conversations at all... they're arguments. And, like all arguments, they're ugly, petty, hurtful and usually don't come to a resolution where both sides feel that their points were equally validated.
I think an occasional online argument can be good. Not everything can be lollypops and bellyrubs in the online channel. Just like any healthy relationship, it's the ups and downs that help it build, evolve and mature. I then started thinking about this Blog - the content and the comments. There are times when I wonder why it does not attract a slew of comments compared to the readership, and then it struck me: maybe it's not supposed to.
I don't want Six Pixels of Separation - The Twist Image Blog to be a hub of provocation. I want it to be a place of sharing. I don't want it to be a center of debate. I want it to be a center of excellence. I don't want people to question my thoughts and motivations. I want them to question the state of Marketing, Branding, Advertising and Communications. I don't want people to be keyboard warriors (tough, big words backed up by an anonymous Hotmail address). I want people to feel comfortable thinking through the challenges and debating the possible courses of action.
I then thought back to my Martial Art coach - Tony Blauer - who said, "you don't fight fire with fire, you fight it with water," (he may not be the actual source of that quote - but he used it often and probably did cite the origin) and I realized that all too often people online act more like Keyboard Warriors than Peaceful Warriors. They're often looking for the edge of the attack rather than the learning and resolution. Let's face it, human beings love conflict and the adage, "can't we all just get along" feels as campy as it sounds, but if you're dabbling in this space - as a Blogger, reader, commenter or all of the above - think about ways to use your words to move the conversation forward... not back.