So, the other day I mentioned that some friends of mine were having a party, and that I found out through my instagram feed that I wasn’t invited. The issue seemed to resonate with a lot of readers so I thought it was worth revisiting. Today, I’d like to talk about exclusivity.
I think everyone can relate to the shitty feeling of being excluded. It brings back childhood memories for me–my younger brother and older sister were really close and sometimes I felt like the odd one out. I think in families where there are three children it’s easy for two of the kids to pair up and leave the third one hanging. Then of course there’s high school where exclusive cliques are about as ubiquitous as crazy teachers with tenure. I remember very well moments where I was included and excluded by the cool kids clique and what that felt like. Both experiences came with feelings of superiority and inferiority. When I was excluded I assumed a ‘so what I’m better than them’ attitude as a defense mechanism, and when I was included I felt guilty, somehow inauthentic but also all of the sudden I did feel cooler (in a kind of a dirty way).
As an adult one would hope to have overcome these childish issues. I mean, I think we all have more important things to think about than who invited whom to what. But these days (and social media plays a huge part in this) so much of my work is dependent on this popularity contest and how one manages being exclusive vs. inclusive. On a daily basis I have people asking me “How many friends” I have on facebook…”how many followers I have” here or there. My popularity is intimately tied to my professional success. Oy.
Have you experienced being on Twitter and tweeting at someone once, twice, maybe three times–and not getting a response? Well I have. I tend to give up after the third try and write that person off as someone that, apparently, I’m not cool enough to talk to. It makes me feel pretty shitty for a few minutes and then I get over it. Because I don’t like how it feels when people don’t respond to me, I try not to do that to others. And if I am in a rush or something, I’ll at least “favorite” the tweet–so the person at least gets I little “I hear ya.” I mean, it’s not that hard. What makes one stranger worth responding to and another not? The amount of ‘followers’ that person has? Does that make them a more interesting conversationalist or a more likely future friend or colleague? I don’t think so. And it’s not about someone having ‘too many followers’ to respond–look at Will Taylor from Bright Bazaar. He’s got a bajillion followers on every platform but always manages to respond to people in a chill, sweet, humble-ass way. You gotta love him for that.
Then there are the all-illusive conferences, summits, events, ‘camps’ etc. where it seems the same ten people are invited to speak every year. I find myself asking what types of ‘lines’ the exclusivity is falls on–are they just all friends? do they care only about numbers? are they (gasp) racists? Then if I ever do get invited to any of these all-illusive conferences, summits, events, ‘camps’ etc. I get that same awkward high-school feeling of feeling guilty, inauthentic and, yes, I sometimes fall into the trap of feeling just a little bit cooler than everyone else. In other words, I become a perpetrator of the exclusivity paradigm–and I don’t like it, not one bit. I see these events flaunted on Instagram and comment after comment on these posts are “aww that looks like so much fun, how can I get invited to one of these events?” And no one responds. And it gets to a point where it seems like what is being shared is done, not for the purpose of inspiring others or spreading beauty, but for the purpose of making others jealous and making others feel excluded. Wtf? Have you noticed this, or felt this way, too?
It’s strange and paradoxical how this new world of “sharing,” (sharing thoughts, images, tastes, works, creativity, ideas) is somehow fostering a new kind of exclusivity–people feel comfortable taking snootiness to a whole new level on social media. It’s not like in real life my friends would have felt comfortable saying to my face ‘oh, we’re going to have an incredible party and you’re not invited’ but that is what they’re doing implicitly by sharing on social, when they know I will see it.
I admit that it is very easy to get seduced by the cool kids and that it *does* feel good to get invited to ‘exclusive’ parties, events etc.–but the problem with exclusivity is that if you were included that means that someone else has been inherently left out–and it sucks. What are your thoughts on exclusivity in the social-media age? Does this sh*t feel like high school to you too sometimes? Have you found yourself feeling excluded by people you don’t even know on social media? How do you manage your own inclusivity vs. exclusivity? What do you think we as bloggers can do to make sure that sharing is about including people in our life, and not excluding people from it? I am so curious to hear your thoughts on this. I’d like to end today’s post with an apology to you all if I ever did make you feel excluded in any way–my intentions here are to make you feel included, my goal is to connect with you all in an authentic, inclusive way. I want this blog (and the extensions of it–my twitter, pinterest, instagram etc. ) to feel like a group hug (a really pretty, colorful, well-designed group hug :P). I hope you can feel my warm embrace as I wish you a kick-ass weekend.