Don’t hang your dirty laundry out to dry, my grandma used to tell me.
I disagree. If more folks were open, honest, raw about their tough times—well then you and I, we could help out. That’s community.
There’s no shame in struggle. There’s no shame in defeat. There’s no shame in talking about either.
Yes: sometimes, we’ve got to suck it up, buckle down, focus, and kick some butt. But often, that kind of morale-ful moment comes after we talk things over with a dear friend. Catharsis, then ass kicking.
Recently, I received a letter from a dear reader asking me to, basically, suck it up. Stop complaining, he said. We don’t care about your struggles, or elephant’s struggles (we’re doing fine, but have lost 55% of our readership due to Facebook changes over the past 12 months—two years of work).
I responded, somewhat defensively (my bad), that elephant is a community, not a company, first. We therefore communicate transparently, honestly, and openly…and while we know that you give us your attention because, hopefully, we help inspire you, inform you, and awaken you…well, we are you. You are inspiring yourself. You write the articles. We just edit them, and share them, and work night and day to fight the social media battles that have helped us grow to 10s of millions of readers a month (yes, even now).
Let me know what you think—should we return to being a bit more focused on inspiring? Or should we continue to be ourselves, genuine, irritating, open, honest…and, probably, sometimes, boring? Or, is there a middle path?
Here’s my response to that dear reader (who I appreciate, by the way):
Hey, thanks! I view our newsletter subscribers as part of the elephant community, not just customers, but community members. Part of what a co-op does when they’re in hard times—or good times—is communicate around that. It is a fact that Facebook controls most modern media and that their changes have led to layoffs at many of our peers [non-indie big boy sites like Mashable, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post]. I’ve avoided that, thus far—largely by reaching out to caring readers.
That said, I appreciate that you just want your articles, not whining or too much responsibility in a community. For that, I highly recommend Facebook, which is all articles, and no community, really.
Also—Emily is a wonderful writer, and wrote a post recently—I appreciate your idea there.
So—remember—be open. Communicate, whether things are good and bad, happy or sad. There is no shame in being raw. We don’t have to exult in our struggles. We don’t have to shout or enjoy our emotionalism. But we can communicate clearly, simply, about the good times as well as the bad. That’s better than stiff-upper-lip. It’s better than macho cowboy-up!
And don’t shame others for being honest, raw, open about their hard times. It’s okay to not be okay.
Happens to the best of us.
Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,