Monitor But Don’t Respond. By, Bob Lefsetz

Posted on February 21, 2013 by


I made a big mistake. I answered an e-mail.

I should know better.

There’s nothing people like more than tearing you down, and by responding to their e-mail, they now know they have access, and it’s open season.

I don’t understand Twitter wars. You say X, the other person says Y, and then it devolves into F YOU!

Happens every time.

Want access to someone online?

Be nice to them.

I know you don’t want to. You want to be three-dimensional, you want to give your opinion, you want to right the wrong. But all this does is leave you ostracized, outside the door.

Amanda Palmer may meet everybody…

Then again, once her image rose above her minions, she was excoriated. Not a single fan bitched she was ripping off musicians by having them play for free, rather it was outsiders, who were unfamiliar with her and her ethos.

Amanda blinked. She shouldn’t have. It only disappointed those who truly cared, who believed she was the standard bearer against the b.s. Now their hero was just like them, beholden to the man.

You cannot be mainstream anymore. It’s a futile exercise. You have to bland out your image and kiss so much butt that you end up with no sharp edges to hold on to. Ubiquity is no longer for art, but crime, and tech. If you’re an artist you’re inherently niche, appealing to a sliver of the population. As for the others, ignore them.

I know, I know, this is contrary to the MTV ethos. But MTV no longer airs videos and you don’t even know what channel it is. Why are you putting faith in an old paradigm?

When you start out, you’re available. When you’re a nobody, you acknowledge all comers. You’re thrilled anybody cares. But once you’re somebody, the doors close. There are just too many crazies in this world. Kate Upton was an unpopular nebbish in high school. Just try approaching her in real life today, especially if you’re a man. You’re gonna get the cold shoulder, you’re gonna be physically removed by a bodyguard. Not because you’re a predator, but because somebody else is.

We live in an unjust society. And one way the oppressed, the disillusioned, the angry can get revenge is by attacking the winners online. No one knows this better than Barack Obama. His detractors don’t care if he was born in America, they just hate the man and everything he stands for. It’s not about facts, it’s about emotions. If Obama provides his birth certificate it doesn’t end the conversation, it ignites it! By engaging Obama legitimizes his detractors, he gives them raw meat, they go wild. So he doesn’t.

And neither should you.

Assuming you’ve got a profile that high.

The rulebook is being rewritten. Traditional media, newspapers, magazines, movies and television…they think they’re better than you. They didn’t get the memo. That we’re now all truly equal online. So these old powers try to ignore reality, put a finger in the dike, stop the tsunami of digital communication. They either deny it exists, or rant about piracy and sue your ass.

That’s a flawed strategy. If you don’t acknowledge that communication has fundamentally changed, you’re destined for the dustbin.

The question is how to deal with this new world.

Don’t try to educate every ignoramus. Don’t try to neutralize every hater. It’s more about them than you. They don’t want to know the truth, they just want to be acknowledged, seen as important in this depersonalized world. Anybody saying the customer is always right doesn’t have an Internet connection.

It’s sad that the few ruin it for the rest of us. But that’s reality. Ten percent of responders are insane. The problem is you just don’t know who that ten percent are. And therefore, you can’t respond to anybody.

Want to communicate with the rich and famous?

Become so yourself.

That hasn’t changed.

Want access? Then you’ve go to deserve it. You’ve got to accomplish something. You’ve got to be vetted. You’ve got to be trustworthy. Then you can hang with George Clooney and have a conversation with Jennifer Lawrence. Otherwise, the door is shut. Because of history, because of the crazies.

But the good thing is you’ve now got the tools. To create and distribute. They’re essentially free. You can gain access. But not by bitching, not by making fun, but by earning it.

And the funny thing is once you get inside, you’ll find everybody treats you right. Because you can’t get to the top by being a hater. No one’s got time for that.

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