"We should envision ourselves as the inevitable architects of future revolutionary systems of communication."

– Lester Beall (learn more here).

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Monday
Aug162010

Could You Ruin Everything In Just One Day?

If I were a bolder and dumber person, I’d try an experiment. I’d try to take myself down.

I got to thinking today about just how many channels of communication I enjoy and how often they connect with people I’ve mostly never met. There’s this site for my business. There’s Twitter for everything. There’s Facebook for a few things. There’s my sports site The Loss Column and there’s Gentlemanly Means Pursued for thoughts on culture, creativity, Americana, and etc. Through these and other efforts I have, over the years, gained an audience.

What if I picked one day and just went nuts? Indulged every crazy idea, got snarky and angry and gave in to every bad impulse? Said out loud all the things I’ve thought privately? Could I ruin everything I’ve built? Maybe. But maybe not.

It’s a question of attention. Whenever I post something I try to stay aware that it reflects on who I am and what I do, each piece playing a role in defining and cementing my identity. Many people “know” me only through these channels. And yet…

So much information gets traded in the ether that there’s no way the vast majority of it ever registers. We have large audiences in theory. So what? The question is, who is actually listening? Probably not as many people as we’d like to think.

The hard truth is that much of the audience just happens to be there. They like us well enough, probably. On the whole though, good or bad, they can likely take it or leave it. That’s the new reality and the quicker we come to terms with it the better.

The strategy, then, is to formulate the things we say with an eye to either the folks we know are listening or to folks we’d like to turn into listeners. One size should not fit all.

The whole audience is important to a point, but most of them won’t be there when it counts. Most of them aren’t actually “there” at all. 

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