My current mini-obsession started with an organizing streak. Have you ever gotten in one of those organizing moods? You look at something and decide it needs to be better organized, so you begin tweaking this and that. I’m a manic organizer, so I end up doing this a lot. I aimed my organizing radar at my blog this weekend. Hey, let’s pep up the wording of my RSS feed subscription button, I thought. I wanted to make folks feel included, to encourage them to join in on the topics I talk about here. Without other people giving their two cents, you’re just committing verbal bulimia.
How to word it was the question: Join the discussion. A lot of people who read my blog are writers, since I talk about writing. We have a common interest. Join the community. I ended up picking a social media-darling-type word, but I’m not sure I’m satisfied with it. Join the tribe. Seth Godin made this term popular, even writing a book about it ‘Tribes’, and the term is regularly bantered about all over the social media landscape.
Tribes are groups of people who gather together to accomplish something, espouse a belief system or support one another to a common goal. Tribes usually have leaders, someone who is moving the group towards reaching the goal or vision. Questions abound on whether you have a tribe and the quantity and quality of your influence over said tribe.
We’ve always been members of groups in our real life, starting with those cliques in the eighth grade. Family is a tribe we have no choice in; friends are a tribe we choose. Neighborhoods are tribes we live in. Church membership, professional associations, volunteer charity associations and writing critique groups are all tribes as well. Add to this the social media tribes: ‘circles’ ‘followers’ ‘fans’ and ‘lists’. It makes me think of the old playground game of ‘Red Rover’: one line eventually had all the kids who could ‘break through’ on it, holding hands, taunting you to ‘come over’. If you couldn’t ‘break through’, too bad, so sad, it was back to the weak line for you.
Maybe I’m still bitter about being sent back too many times. Do we want to include or exclude? Do we want people in our circle, or to make sure certain people stay out? I understand that people enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves, but mostly they just want to have interaction.
Do you know what people want more than anything? They want to be missed. – Seth Godin
People want to know other people care.
I was watching the ducks at the ponds up the street in my tribe where I live (neighborhood). There are a group of about five black domesticated ducks that gather together and move from one pond to another en masse. At the beginning of the summer, three wild mallards, one green-headed male and two brown females, joined them. I saw a dust-up between one of the mallards and a much bigger Canadian goose. All eight of the group joined in to shoo off the goose bully. The mallards had found their ‘tribe’ who supported them in their time of trouble.
I’m now leaning toward the old-fashioned word ‘fellowship’ as it makes me think of the movie ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’. The members of the fellowship came from different backgrounds and even had suspicions about one another, being unfamiliar with the others’ culture. But they had a common goal and as they got to know one another they were not only supporting the goal, but supporting one another as individuals. That’s what I would like to happen here on my blog. People discussing common issues and supporting one another in their writing journey.
As I am wont to do, I have completely overanalyzed this situation. I encourage you to find the tribe/group/fellowship/team where you can participate, be encouraged, grow in your writing and make a difference in the world. Here are some great links on the subject of tribes in social media:
- Finding Your Tribe May Be the Hardest Thing You Ever Do by Jeff Goins
- Our Writing Friends from Edmund Schubert at Magical Words
- Maximizing Our Social Media Impact – Having the “Right” Friends by social media ninja Kristen Lamb
- How To Grow Your Social Media Tribe from Heidi Cohen
- Mike Duran gives a provocative take on social media with Your Tribe Is Really A Cult
- Seth Godin’s TED talk on tribes and influencers here