Marketing supremo Seth Godin wrote today: “Any sufficiently overheated industry will eventually resemble high school…filled with insecurity, social climbing, backbiting, false friends, faux achievements, high drama and not much content. Much of this insecurity comes from a market that doesn’t make good judgments, that doesn’t understand how to reliably choose between alternatives. So it turns into a popularity contest.”
As Tom Hanks reportedly said, “Hollywood is like high school, but with money.” The internet, Godin says, is like high school but with a modem. And twitter… is high school but only 140 characters at a time.
As with high school, you ultimately win out when you keep your distance from irrelevant people. And do your own thing.
I was bullied mercilessly in high school. The “clique” found me weird (lived in country, big family, quite liked studing). I found them weird.
Mum would ask if I respected the cliques. I didn’t. “Well, don’t waste your time with them,” she’d say. “Hold your head high.” I thought they wasted a lot of time talking crap and worrying about their boyfriends. So hung out in the library. And with the boys.
In the end, the distance I kept helped me survive and to grow beyond the very limited experience that was Lyneham High. The clique went on to get pregnant too early and waste opportunities.
I’ve seen the same dynamics occur in every workplace I’ve entered. With time to gossip, things slide into stagnant, petty politicking. I edited Cosmopolitan for four years; I need not say more!
In the social media environment, this dominance of the irrelevant masses reaches new heights. Social media success is often, if we’re all not careful and authentic, a popularity contest. People expend vast energy amassing followers and fans. The quality of the connection with these people doesn’t seem to matter. Tactics are utilised to amass these followers. At the expense of care and true contribution.
I sometimes get bogged down in it. And have to come up for air.
OK, herein ends my rant. Apologies for the dank tone. I think it’s because I’ve just been invited to a Lyneham High Year 10 reunion and I’ve found myself caring too much about what everyone might think of me.