Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Creative Life: Be Nice. The World is a Small Town

Technique Tuesday

Austin Kleon's eighth point, "Be nice. The world is a small town," is a corollary to last week's observation that, "Geography is no longer our master."

At one level, it should go without saying that we ought to be kind to the people around us, giving them the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise. At another, it's something we need to be reminded of because there seems to be no shortage of examples of people getting ahead because they behaved badly and took advantage.

As we move forward in to the brave, new world where Internet-enabled info streams insinuate themselves into every aspect of our lives, one of the many distinctions that is fading away is that between cities and small towns. I've lived in both and they have advantages and disadvantages. Small towns are warm and welcoming because everyone knows you, but they can be stifling because everyone knows you. Cities can feel cold and menacing because no one knows you, but they can also be full of possibilities because no one knows you.

Kleon's point is that we're moving beyond the time when you could reinvent yourself simply by moving somewhere else and jettisoning your social baggage, and back into a time when everyone knows who you are.
"An important lesson to learn: if you talk about someone on the internet, they will find out. Everybody has a Google alert on their name.

"The best way to vanquish your enemies on the internet? Ignore them.

"The best way to make friends on the internet? Say nice things about them."
What this means more generally is that as a creative person, you'll always come out ahead by enticing your audience instead of compelling them. Give them a better reason to come to you than your enemy. And sometimes, particularly in terms of professional relationships, that better reason is a simple as being a pleasant person.


Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net