Because of the far and fast reach of the internet, we have an ability to share our work almost as soon as it is made, and to share it with a larger audience than ever before. Furthermore, that audience has the ability to issue feedback immediately: in fact, it’s encouraged. Like it. Comment on it. Up-vote it. Or otherwise. And the danger is that we know what others think of our work (less a full thought, really, and more a knee-jerk reaction) before we’ve lived with it long enough to really know what we think of that work ourselves.
Other voices easily drown out our own before we can really hear it. And this applies whether you hear positive or negative reactions; both are dangerous to us. Positive feedback too soon will stop us moving forward or going deeper. It’ll stop us at the low-hanging fruit and the first, most obvious iterations, and our work won’t have a chance at getting honed. And negative reactions or feedback can stop us just as quickly when that feedback often only means “this work isn’t for me” and has nothing to do with how authentic or good it might actually be.
There’s something different about you. Probably something that kids at school saw right away and teased you about. Likely something (or a collection of things) that you’ve spent considerable effort to hide from the world. They’re the weird-shaped edges you keep trying to iron out, but they’re part of you and are there for good, so they keep springing back. They’re the things that make you feel a bit like a freak. By definition, they’re also what makes you extraordinary. Exceptional.
My nickname in high school was “Krazy” because I was weird. I didn’t easily fit in. What happened to me?
I asked a friend yesterday about a book I’d recommended to him (My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok) and I found myself writing the words, “did you like it?” before self-consciously backing out of that with something along the lines of “not that liking it is remotely the point.” Because it’s not. Whether we “like” art is no real measure of it’s importance, relevance, humanity, or even its beauty. But it is so easy to evaluate, or respond to art merely in terms of whether or not we like it. Our consumption of social media has not helped with this: so overwhelmed by content of all kinds we give our full attention to less and less of it, our responses getting less considered and less nuanced with every Like.
We are conditioning ourselves to Like. And in so-doing we are training ourselves away from deeper thought or engagement.
As my mouse hovered over the Like post kind, I realized I wanted more choices.