For the first time in a while, I’ve found myself wanting to cuss out certain bloggers. As a rule, I try to keep Pushing Social out of the middle of self-serving or self-righteous controversy. But I was sorely tempted to give a few trolls and Oatmeal a piece of my mind.
Even though as an African-American I know the price a society pays when good people stay silent, I decided to avoid the debate. Unfortunately I know that most online dialogue is about pageview pimping not constructive dialogue. In this environment I felt that I wouldn’t be effective. Yet, you can see why I’ve been a little conflicted.
As I’ve thought about my responsibility to you, my beliefs, and society as a whole, the word “Courage” kept pushing to the front. My friend, Mark Schaefer seeded the thought earlier that courage, taking action when you are afraid, was key to blogging and I slowly began to wrap my head around his profound insight.
He’s right and it’s probably time you started thinking about what Courage means to you:
Time to Make an Omelette
“You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs” the saying goes. Great blogs have a singular focus and a distinct perspective. This means that their publishers often have to face-down idiots, trolls, and readers that disagree.
Bloggers willing to tackle controversy step outside the echo chamber and write about topics that incite heated discussion. There is an echo chamber in advertising, social media, partisan politics, and other subjects because many bloggers enjoy the comfort of siding with the majority.
You’ll Drown in The Middle
Last weekend I ran in the Warrior Dash, 3.2 miles of trail running punctuated by obstacles designed to kill you. After running 1.2 miles, over 200 people had to negotiate a lake crossing. At two points in the lake, you had to clamber soaking wet over barriers. Inexperienced Warriors clumped in the center, fighting over one over to get on the platform before their exhausted legs refused to tread water any longer. But some clever runners, realized that they could negotiate the obstacle easily by staying on the edges avoiding the pack.
After (barely) finishing the obstacle I chastised myself for running in the middle. I knew better. Avoiding controversy and sticking to the middle is a recipe for blogging irrelevance too. Unless you are a debate moderator, there's little reason to be balanced. The competition is too fierce. Bloggers need to pick a side, or create their own.
Readers are Attracted to Leaders
Every time I’ve taken a stand, this blog has attracted more followers. I never had to be nasty, but I did need to be decisive. The formula is simple - Fans follow leaders and leaders assert a clear position. If you are struggling to gain a readership, check to see if you stand for something if not, you’ve found what you need to change.
The courage to be unpopular, provocative, and contrarian inspires readers. Again, don’t be a jackass. Be respectful. Keep an open mind. But, don’t let the opposition confuse your civility for timidity. Your forceful advocacy helps your readers clarify where they stand. They will appreciate that you lead from the front.
Unless you are Mitt Romney, Matt Drudge, or Arianna Huffington, you probably won’t need to fight for your beliefs all that often. The discouraging thing about “civil discourse” is that the topics are becoming more trivial every day.
Plus, some subjects aren’t controversial. I haven’t seen rose gardeners square off in some time. But, look for opportunities to let your readers know your principles and point of view. When you need to fight, bring your A-Game knowing that your readers are standing in your corner.
What do you think?