Read the Room Before You Post
Updated: May 3, 2020
Buckle up, this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Now is a time that's got every single human on Earth shook.
Shook to our cores. And because we're shook, we're all looking to connect with folks who can help lead us into a new 'normal' that includes things like hugging friends, sitting in the same room with colleagues, & travelling beyond our safe little bubbles.
Now though, regardless of what you're reading in ALL THE PLACES, is not the time to hustle, to pivot, to bury yourself in motion, or to grab with both hands those big ‘ol ‘post-covid opportunities’ that everyone seems to be shouting about.
Stop the insanity. I see this kind of aggressive language laden with fear mongering & politics too much these days.
And, seriously - this kind of rhetoric is insane.
The only real motion that any of us is going going to get right now is the kind that takes us round & round in circles until we feel like we’re going to barf. And as someone who’s been barfed on multiple times while riding The Zipper & the Ferris Wheel at our Local Western Days Extravaganzas back in my childhood days, I can tell you for a fact that the best thing any of us can do right now is to get off the carnival ride before you become a part of it.
It is time for us all to stop.
Seriously, to stop & think.
No, no, literally... to stop & simply be in the moment.
Hands up if you’re over the Gary Vee wanna-be’s who are yelling about opportunity, flexing their algorithmic muscles on a livestreams, or simply starting every post with “Here’s what I think…”
FML, I can’t take any more of it.
Not a single word, link post to a FREE "better yourself in iso!" webinar, long-form shouty "inspo" video," or we're all in this together TVC with minor chords lulling us into a beige sense of creative ineptitude. Soz not soz, y'all. But I'm just not feeling the actual love right now.
In fact, I'm feeling the opposite of love. I'm feeling a sense of fear & urgency on behalf of our industry that's leading many of us to try to "get back to normal" consumerist calls to action when "normal" has yet to even peek its beautiful wee head out from behind the curve of Covid-19. The last thing any of us need right now is another voice shouting via LinkedIn, ye Olde ‘Gram, the Tweeterbot, via email, or through any other channel telling us that THIS PANDEMIC IS AN OPPORTUNITY. Didn’t you know?
A crisis is a GOOD THING FOR MAKING COIN!
A crisis makes champions out of novices.
A crisis reveals who we are as experts. A crisis is a horrible thing to let go to waste!
Hell to the freaking no. This drivel is all just a bunch of brain-farts put to virtual-paper & shared out in hopes of likes, comments, shares, & a bit of ego tripping. The only truth we can all live by is that this pandemic is freakshow.
It’s a rolling death-machine brought about by invisible RNA-fuelled micro-organisms that, because we can’t see them, can attack anyone of us at any time.
I repeat - THIS IS A PANDEMIC.
This is not an opportunity at scale.
This time we’re living through is an already deep & ever-growing wound of already epic proportions.
Covid-19 has exposed our shared mortality in ways that our world hasn’t seen for generations upon generations.
We are staying home to live. We are bored so that others might know boredom.
We are spoilt little brats a lot of the time & as long as we stay in our spoilt-brat-bubbles then I'm a-okay with it.
In all seriousness though, we’re living through a time of unprecedented death. Fear. Anxiety. Boredom. Content consumption. Political unrest. Did I mention the death part? Yeah, that’s the crux of all of this.
Our lives & survival are at stake right now.
Young & healthy? Covid doesn’t care about that - it’ll still crawl into your lungs & put you on a ventilator.
Old & living with co-morbidities? Covid’s a dickhead & will come quicker & harsher for you.
Shitty stuff, right?
Yet on LinkedIn, on blog posts, & in ALL THE RECKONS from those “industry leaders” who are desperate to reckon even more so now that they’ve got the time to, we’re hit with a barrage of opinion pieces that liken what we’re going through to GFC’s past. Or to war. Or to problems that marketing can solve.
Newsflash: this is 2020. This is a time none of us have ever known or lived-through. We can't take this time & copy/paste it to a template of crises of the past. We must take it at face value. And mostly, we must realise that this is not the time to be opportunist in our communications, strategies, or advertising.
And hey, look, I get it that as professionals we need to worry about work. We need to worry about the bottom line. We need to worry about our staff. We need to worry about how our teams are coping physically & mentally & spiritually. We need to worry about the gap between how reality is shaping up to be versus how we’d envisioned it being in terms of our own self-growth & business growth in a pre-Covid19 frame of mind.
We need to worry…
But what we don't need to do is to add to the worry of others by telling them how to get back to "normal."
If I see or hear another multi-millionaire tucked up in their one-billion-square foot house overlooking rolling hills telling me that the data they’ve gathered from the 1920s & 1990s shows that it’s the BUSINESSES THAT SHOUT THE LOUDEST NOW WILL ‘WIN’ AFTER COVID (don’t get me started on ‘WINNING’ WTAF does that mean in actual terms? How does anyone ‘win’ at business? How does anyone ‘win’ at happiness or marriage or life? Oy vey!) I’m going to unplug our family wifi & never, EVER plug it in again.
Okay, that’s me being a bit histrionic.
I’ll plug it back in for my family (I’m not a dictator).
But I will not be putting any content from newly minted pontificating masterminds in front of my eyeballs until all of the Opportunity Hunters head back into offices & spare us their brilliance.
This time we’re living through. The present moment?
This is not a “cultural moment to capitalise” upon. This is a moment of abject humanitarian tragedy. And it is shallow at best & irresponsible most of the time to think that we should be doing anything other than helping each other right now. I have to say, too, my heart swells with the amount of goodness being pumped out into the ether as well. I’ve seen big brands moving from their bread-&-butter products & services to new models that aren’t perfect, but that are aimed at helping others to live well & healthily.
Goodness gracious alive, the leaders who are truly leading by doing has buoyed my semi-cynical #KindessWarrior heart. To everyone doing everything they can, I take my hat (in fact, I take all of my hats) off to you.
Over the past month I’ve had the great pleasure of spending a lot of time working alongside local & regional tourism operators who are looking to better tell their stories & to bring the magic of New Zealand back to the forefront of the imaginations of Kiwis who might not be travelling abroad anytime soon.
These intelligent business owners & people of the land have reaffirmed the goodness inherent in community & collective business practices for me. Most of the questions I’ve been asked have been about being able to give more, to do more for others, to bring more joy to the lives of those who need uplifting the most. MAGIC!
I’ve also been spending a lot of time having conversations with kick-ass humans (who also happen to work in the marketing & advertising business) about hard-hitting aspects of how we re-build our cohort in a post-Covid19 world.
Consumers are us.
We are them.
We are all in this together.
Moving forward we need do one thing twice as much: treat each other with kindness & compassion. This means all of us. As we build together we must also pay tribute to the moment that we’re in. We must remember the human toll, our collective loss, & grieve as long as each of us needs to grieve.
The grips of rampant consumerism have loosened. Moving back to a buy-buy-buy-buy way of selling & doing business feels dirty & uncaring.
Businesses who are reimagining their expertise & products right now to help our essential workers, to ensure more safety & sanitation for humanity on the whole, & those people who are sharing their platforms to raise the voices of true experts are me heroes. Some have argued with me that even these businesses are being "opportunistic" but I don't agree. Opportunism reeks of self-centredness. If brands can reinvent themselves in times of need simply by doing what's right by their communities - then that's selflessness. If they make money at their new ventures, then I'm all for it.
From this moment on we get to see who leads with heart as we forge a new collective “normal.” By rights, we’ll also clearly see who desperately clings to the idea of “more is better” when more people than ever before have less at the expense of it.
Here’s to all of us doing better for each other.
Here’s to our new world, re-imagined as one that doesn’t need attacking with gusto, but rather that deserves being tended to gently. Like a garden that needs plowing, watering, preening, & sunlight to grow.
#KindnessWarriors, let’s do this.