When The Internet Is A Petty Place : Find The Cool 10%

25 Jan

The internet can be a downright rude place.

Random hostile Twitter interaction

Random hostile Twitter interaction

I think that’s why we all need real community.  Each and every one of us ought to go out and find our community, somewhere on the internet.  Or make it, if it doesn’t exist.

Twitter or Soundcloud aren’t really communities, those are major hubs, multi-Metropolis-sized in members.  Facebook is a reunion, news ticker and a bar mixed together.

I live in Tokyo, a metropolis where you can’t avoid the crowds and when you see the swelling throngs of people moving through the train station, you get this overwhelming feeling of anonymity, being aware that you’ll likely never see the same stranger twice.

Being on Twitter, like my friend Ryan once said, is like shouting out your front door. And it’s like your neighbors are all shouting out their front doors, too.

You might occasionally hear someone who is on the same wavelength over all of that shouting, but how do you get them to come hang out and have tea?  They are still essentially a stranger, so you have to establish common ground quickly, without appearing spooky.

And its difficult to shout out your front door when people who don’t care can hear you, too.

Youtube also has all the aspects that make the real world unpredictable, like a roomful of strangers coming and going.  Its like performing live on a bus, where any stranger is allowed to comment on your performance and then get off. 

On the other hand, really cool people are mixed in everywhere. There’s always a good chance you’ll find someone.  

 

You can hope that out of any group of people, 10% of them will be cool.

Whatever your definition of cool may be -respectful, refined, smart, creative, stylish, talented or all those combined.  And if you can establish that you arealso one or all of the above, then they will find you to be cool, too.  And then you don’t need to worry that much.

 

So where do you go where those ten percent aren’t drowned out by the majority?

It’s not that the cool ten percent are nonexistent or even that unrecognizable, but that they are hidden and mixed in, quietly minding their manners.

Add to that the fact that you’re relying strictly on text for communication and it adds a layer of ambiguity, it can cast doubt on an already tenuous conversation and make you wonder if the person is cool or not.

Pile on that the still relative newness of expressing who you really are on the internet, removing the veil, and connecting in a non-ironic non-protected way with people you’ve never met in the flesh, and it casts enough doubt on things to make it still ambiguous.

How do you let people who are your kind of people know who you are?

approaching_musicians

I AM COOL, THIS MUCH ABOUT ME YOU CAN TRUST!

How do you say this in a way where people will know it and believe it so that they finally find it to be true?

 

We’re still on our wits about spammers, trolls, scammers & shit-talkers.  We don’t always trust someone just wanting to be our friend.  Opportunists and phonies all trying to make a quick transaction.

How do you go on the internet and sound like you do without sounding like you don’t?

You gotta keep trying, I guess.

Reach out to somebody, instead of mysterious try being vulnerable.  Especially if you make stuff.  People sometimes notice it when you do.

Resist the urge to size people up or write them off, likewise don’t worry about people doing that to you.

Resist that urge to see people only in terms of what they can do for you or how their companionship might benefit you immediately.  Peel back a layer to find out who they really are.

Fans, those people who love your music or art aren’t going to show you appreciation if you aren’t approachable, if you’re too cool for school…  Not just that, but you have to open the door first to let them in.

I know, I’ve been there before.  Self-conscious about appearing like a ‘whore’ by marketing myself and reaching out randomly, apropos of nothing, to people.

It’s not a competition, there are plenty of attention and fans to go around.

It’s not about more and more fans, it’s about offering more value to the fans you already have.

Which might mean opening up, reaching out and letting people in.  

But what better person than a fan to create a community with?

What has your experience been with reaching out on the internet?  

Let me know in the comments!

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4 Responses to “When The Internet Is A Petty Place : Find The Cool 10%”

  1. Amber January 26, 2013 at 12:09 am #

    ! Thanks for this post!! I think I have an idea of what you’re touching on here – Part of the reason why it’s Friday night and I’m hanging out at home [again, like I've been doing almost every weekend for the past 8 or 9 months].
    Due to the fact that I don’t speak much Japanese, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently on the internet reading blogs, seeking out artists in Nagoya especially, writing stuff for future blogs and farting around on twitter, etc. I’ve been searching for other creatives and I’ve tried to find something to say when i see something I like, even if it’s just a single line compliment that I really mean, and I think you’re probably right- only about 10% of people have actually replied, and for now i’m fine with that because all of those replies have been encouraging, even if they seemed really minor to the writer.

    Anyway, I think the only way to find out who’s really cool, and not too-cool-for-you cool, is with time – it’s the only tool I know of that will peel back those layers like you said, that will give you a consistent picture of how someone is… it sucks there’s no real quick test to determine people’s motives or to warn you when someone is actually a douche, but I think just with each chance and the longer you now someone, you’ll be able to see a clearer picture of who they really are. And I agree – you gotta give them a few chances – we all have our off days, or days where we have a lot going on behind closed doors, so if the first meeting is awesome… just let it play out a little & try not to write people off to easily.
    [sorry to write so much - the idea of community is something that I hold dear & something I've been struggling to understand and grasp since moving out here!]

    • Joshua Lundquist January 26, 2013 at 1:27 am #

      Amber, you’ve just inspired me to start thinking of a system where people can easily, quickly prove our worth / salt / coolness on the internet, like swiping a card… That way you can knock all the internet dummies out of the way and really get to …y’know, helping each other out!

      I actually think music and art are *pretty* good at this. But its still so hard to get anyone to look at or listen to it. Yet I’m always glad I took the time when its good.

      So how do you let people know its good before they know its good…? Hmm… Cool card®.

      BUT I hear you, and apropos of the idea of “having off days”, I just found a dude who writes about music and stuff on his site like I do and after a few drinks (by myself) just got straight dorky on his Facebook page. Maybe its my attitude in general about Facebook, it feels like a saloon to me somehow…

      And even though I’m pretty much mostly *not* a douche, I just felt inexplicably good and jovial and wanted to express it to this stranger! That’s when I made the mistake of assuming this stranger would ‘get’ my sense of humor, just by my words. Which, how could he possibly..?

      **Something to note about the internet, that it does have a dangerous lack of buffer for those parts of one’s personality that, accentuated by alcohol, make you teeter dangerously towards that ‘douche’ level, haha…ahh…

      ;-) Thanks for the attention / comments / thoughts as always!

  2. Js.One January 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Well said! You have a way of putting it into pretty succinct language.

    • Joshua Lundquist February 2, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Thanks Js, you have a fine thing going over at your site. Looking forward to collaborating someday!

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