This article is going to start inquisitive, turn deeply cynical and then end, to the best of my ability, on a positive note. Begin Rant
I just had a very strange experience on LinkedIn. A recent post just crossed 12k views. It wasn’t a big “Double your Income and move to the Caribbean in Two Weeks” article. No marketing or publicity gimmicks. It wasn’t part of a strategic personal branding initiative. It wasn’t selling any products or implementing a radical new hashtag strategy. It didn’t have any flashy graphics or optimized call to actions. It was a simple thank you.
So why did it do so well?
I don’t know exactly why exactly but I have a theory. Aside from the fact that a well connected design leader tagged another design leader at Best Buy (Thanks Cliff!), I think its precisely because it was none of the things above. It’s only merits were that it was genuine, positive and put the good work of others on display. Good work was created by the team at Best Buy, an enjoyable experience was had by myself and I simply said thank you.
The world of social media I’ve found falls into two distinct camps.
The first is the uber-marketed optimized life hacker work hard/play harder entrepreneurs’ camp. This camp is feuled by conjuring a fear of scarcity. Day in and day out we see posts and products that claim “You haven’t reached your full potential”, “You need to make more money”, “Bad date on Saturday? Its because you’re deeply flawed, unloveable and have substantial issues with your personality that me and my team of supermodels can coach you through”. You have a problem and I am your solution.
The second is about tearing down the enemy. Any group that you don’t like it is your duty as a designer on Instagram or twitter to blast them and share all the vitriol you can until the problem goes away. The liberals are communists. The conservatives are fascists. The rich need to be taxed and the poor need to work hard. Millennials need to stop complaining and Boomers need to stop bankrupting nations.
I’m not saying that injustice doesn’t exist or that we don’t need to work against it but there is a saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln that we would do well to listen to.
Do I Not Destroy My Enemies When I Make Them My Friends?
We have become so set on “destroying the enemy” with eye for an eye tactics that we have blinded the our whole world. We have lost our capacity to help one another because we are worried there is only so much success to go around. We have become dead set on creating a peaceful world through violence we have become that which we sought to destroy.
I’m not a sociologist or social scientist but it appears to me that both problems come from a hyperfocus on one’s self. We don’t just want to be successful. We want to be the most successful. We don’t want to deal with oppositional opinions because we may be harmed or offended. Therefore we surround ourselves with people who think just like we do and vilify the rest. When did we as a society loose our ability to see a problem and contribute to its solution. When did we forget that character isn’t built by what we stand against but what we stand for. When did we loose sight of the fact that my brother’s failures are notan opportunity to sell ads or aggregate likes on \another “Watch People Die Inside” montage on YouTube or TikTok.
Too many people believe that the road to success is paved in blood, sweat, tears and the exposed skeletons in their neighbors closet. It isn’t; that’s the road to hell and I’m not sure we know the difference anymore.
So be positive. Be grateful. This is a big big world and its full of wonderful things and people. Go out there and make someone’s day. Compliment a stranger. Make a sandwich for your neighbor. Call someone up and just ask how they are holding up. Not because it will get 12k views on LinkedIn or but because it puts a smile on someone’s face and that is worth far more.