What do you say when you want so say something, without saying something? How can you wrap your message in such a way that it will be understood only by certain people, while looking completely inoffensive to others?
I think about this a lot, lately.
It’s been more than 11 months of daily publishing here. During this time I learned many things. I still have things to learn, as the challenge is not over yet.
And one of the most important things that I learned is that you cannot touch (or appeal to, if you want) a lot of people. There’s a certain limit, which seems to be inversely proportional with the amount of clarity you expect from your readers. The more you appeal to collective dreams, to confused and gullible readers, the more propagated you are. By “collective dreams” I understand standard models of success.
Write about getting the perfect body, and you will certainly be picked up by algorithms, because there are billions of people obsessed with that. Not only obsessed, but convinced that a certain body shape is a mark of success. Write about making a lot of money, just to show off, and you will certainly be picked by algorithms, because there are billions of people obsessed with flashing luxurious lifestyles. They have no idea what it means to be rich, they just want to be perceived like that.
So, if your message doesn’t overlap with a hugely popular trend, your echo will be minimal. But there is something very good about that. If you’ll have a minimal echo, your echo chamber will be minimal also. Meaning you won’t have a lot of people eager to validate your opinions. You won’t have a lot of yesmen. You won’t have in your circle people ready to agree with you, or supporting your discourse.
You will have people genuinely interested in engaging in conversations. You will reach to a way smaller audience, but that audience will be more challenging – in the same way you challenge your body by running at higher intensity, or competing in more difficult races. Those people will be for real. Many times they will be difficult to deal with, but they will always be looking for a correct conversation, one that expresses authentic experiences, and not social norms.
I guess I’m thinking that popularity is not even remotely a mark of success. Especially these days. On the contrary. The more popular you are, the more diluted and easy to hijack your message will be. The world is moving faster, opinions are forming and disintegrating in minutes, and people are engaging with dozens of complex trends every day.
Behind this boiling activity, the big, opaque algorithm box, controlled by few, but which controls many. In this box, only money and power counts.
So that’s why I’m thinking lately about what do you say when you want so say something, without saying something…