Much of what passes as sound advice for users in the blog and social media space is predictable, repetitive and contradictory. After five years of blogging, and many more in social media (if you count the predecessors to Facebook, Twitter, et al), I can tell you honestly that it’s the same as offline: if you take everyone’s advice and act on all of it, you’ll run yourself ragged into an ever-tightening knot.
However, no matter what you do, you will piss some people off. The question is whether it was worth pissing off some to please others. Because when it comes to social media, if you’re not pissing some people off, you’re not using it hard enough.
The experimental goal as described in the article was to disprove the notion that we shouldn’t do frequency and repetition in communication. As a marketer, he knows instinctively that’s just wrong. Guy Kawasaki’s marketing strategy is to be relatable, available and consistent. As human beings with all our myriad relationships, this is the least we should be doing, too.
Switch out “social media” for “life” and “using” for “living” in Kawasaki’s quote above.
Because when it comes to life, if you’re not pissing some people off, you’re not living it hard enough.
Who goes through life wanting to piss off the fewest people possible? Raise your hand up high with most of the rest of us. We don’t like it when someone is pissed off with us; we’re pleased when most everyone supports and encourages what we’re doing. This is why conformity works. Yet, trailblazers get all the attention, why? Because we envy innovators their ability to break through the wall of potential disapproval.
Most of us can point to a regretful personal example where we let the opinions of others keep us from acting on an unconventional, yet still reasonable, objective. Maybe some of us are even still hopelessly hamstrung by the opinions of others. The question we should be always asking is, “Who best makes this decision for me?”
People who forge ahead despite the objections of others have answered that question with, “I do.” They’ve assessed their purpose as worth pissing some people off. (See: The Naysayers, Fear and Risk Continuum). This risk assessment isn’t done in a vacuum. Negative feedback (rightly) brings our plans into further question. If the plan is deemed viable, it survives. The people-pleasing may not. It’s not that the opinions of others aren’t valued, it’s that the priorities behind the objective are valued more.
Dealing with objections and constant criticism is wearing. In How to Deal with Unsupportive Friends and Family, traveler Nomadic Matt states that it simply “sucks when your support system is unsupportive.” It’s a bigger fork in the road when aspects of your support system are consistently unsupportive. When you’re making a change, you’re asking those who have an opinion of you and what you’re doing to make a change, too, in their own comparative assessment. Some will come along, and some won’t.
Some people will go so far as to be angry with you for continuing with your objectives after they’ve been unsupportive. How dare you leave them behind after they’ve indicated they can’t go along with your change? Yet you must. You will need to make the space to build new networks.
This kind of thinking and practice is difficult for those of us who raised our hands above. Not wanting to piss people off can seem like a great way to reduce drama and negative interactions. But the reality is, as Kawasaki well knows, a certain number of people are going to be pissed off no matter what you do. I’ve had people pissed off at me because I don’t work hard enough, I’m a doormat, I post on social media too frequently, I don’t use Twitter correctly, I have negative political opinions, and I am unrealistically positive. I’m sure the list of things I do that piss people off is much longer; it’s always disheartening to find them out, either directly or indirectly.
Yet, people-pleasing hand-raisers, how many of us have tried and failed to change the things about themselves that have pissed other people off? Could I work harder than I already do? Perhaps, but by whose measure? Could I be more assertive? Some already say I’m too assertive (particularly with politics). Could I discover how to use Twitter and Facebook appropriately? Sure, there are a gazillion experts just waiting to tell me. Could I be a little less positive about things? Well, of course, but I tried that and I wasn’t very happy.
So there we have it. If we’re living life hard enough, people are gonna be pissed off with us for their own reasons. Let them. We may be surprised by whom. So be it. This doesn’t make us less caring as individuals, or overly dismissive of their feelings. Instead, we can draw strength from our instincts and defend our intention by giving objections the appropriate consideration due them. Sometimes, though, that consideration just happens to be very little.