One of the things that I have always loved about working in search, and its younger sibling social, is how friendly it is.
Whether it’s the way in which the crew at SEOmoz embraced me when I first started using the site; the way that Lisa started chatting to me in the queue for customs at Seattle Airport before the inaugural SMX Advanced; or the way in which people such as Julie & Jay took me under their wing at that same conference, despite being veterans of a million industry events; or even the way that I never fail to receive professional tips & advice from people who are officially my competitors.
Whatever the instance, I’ve a memory of someone being as nice as pie, and it’s why the last few years have been some of the happiest of my working life to date.
And yet, and yet…
For almost as long as I’ve appreciated the warmth & kindness that comes from so many areas of this sector, I’ve also been rather disturbed by the number of people who seem to think that being rude, abrasive & aggressive is not only clever, but a smart marketing tool as well.
They think that being agressively macho in their manner both on, and offline, is somehow cool when all it really suggests is that they didn’t lose their virginity until they were 29.
They think that sarcasm is always funny, even when it’s snide & unkind, when all it does is show a lack of imagination.
They think that being shocking in order to gain attention shows a talent for marketing when it’s actually the digital equivalent of wetting the bed.
They think that gaining this attention, no matter what the cost, is a brilliant way to build a brand when all it really means is that you’re doomed to be a poisonous fish in a small pond for as long as your digital profile exists.
Bizarrely these same people will also accuse anyone who criticises them of being a troll, despite displaying troll behaviour in their every move.
And possibly even more bizzarely, I’m the sort of person that you might think would find this sort of behaviour amusing – after all, Paul Carr never fails to make me laugh.
But that’s because behind all of Carr’s sarcasm and facetious asides, there’s obviously an intelligent & funny human being, with real friends, cares & passions. And someone who feels as strongly as I do (if not more so) that the downward slide in online courtesy is a curse on what is, otherwise, an amazing sector.
Because at the end of the day, these people have mistakenly come to the conclusion that all this pointless sarcasm and negativity is somehow big & clever, when it’s in fact utterly stupid.
I might have this opinion because I’m a pussy, pinko Limey.
Or maybe it’s because my parents taught me that manners cost nothing and I’m sick of having to avoid large sections of teh webz because I find the content I find there so utterly depressing.
At the end of writing this I can’t help but think of one of my best friend’s fathers.
Whenever he joins us for a night out he thinks it’s hilarious, when he walks into the toilet of whichever pub we’re in, to ask “Is this where all the cocks hang out?”
To which my answer now would be, “No, that’s on the web”.
Rude photo by Abulic Monkey on flickr