Tangent Time – Seeing Gomez
Earlier this month I went to see Gomez perform at the Hi-Fi bar in Melbourne. I wasn’t planning on heading into it, but at the last minute a mate rang and asked me if I wanted a free ticket.
I said yes straight away – for starters I know a few Gomez songs and like them and secondly… it was a free ticket to a sold out show and I’m always up for a freebie!
As I say, I know a few Gomez songs, but would never have called myself a big fan.
This hit home to me a couple of songs into their set when I looked around at the audience of 1000 and saw virtually every other person in the room with their hands in the air, singing screaming along with every word.
These were fanatical fans – they loved Gomez. Not only did they know every word, they knew what song was being played the instant a chord was played, they got all the in jokes that the band said and they were all decked out in Gomez gear.
I loved the show – but as it went on I increasingly felt like something of an impostor – I didn’t fit in and I knew it.
As I drove home from the show in the early hours of he morning (smelling like smoke and with ringing ears) I reflected a little on how I felt as ‘the odd one out’ at the show. It struck me that it’s not an uncommon feeling.
The Odd One Out
“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?”
Almost any place that people gather together around a common interest or activity something happens between them that forms them into some type of community.
The community might be a temporary or transient one (like a concert where fans from around a city gather) or it might be a permanent one (like a club or church where the same people come every week) but as the community forms a number of things happen including the development of a common language, the emergence of symbols with meaning and a shared memory of experiences that also have meaning to those in the community.
These things are wonderful to be a part of – but to those on the outer they highlight the fact that they don’t belong (I’m sure those with a clue or two about sociology could explain it a lot better than I can).
Blogs can be one such place where community forms and these things happen.
I’ve written numerous times about building community and interactivity on a blog – but it struck me last night that for every blog reader that feels a part of a blog’s community that there must be a reader (or more…. or less) that feels on the outer for one reason or another.
Another way of putting it might be to say that Blogs can be great at bringing people together to form community and belonging – but that they can also be quite cliquey.
On one level I don’t have a problem with this – I think it’s valid for people to gather together with other people like them to speak in their language, to share similar experiences, passions and interests however on the other hand I’m interested in building communities with fuzzy and open edges that are accessible to newcomers also.
Over the past four years I’ve been a part of a variety of niches of blogging (Christian blogs, blogs about blogging, tech blogs etc) and they’ve all struggled with the exclusivity thing. I see it largely happening in two main ways:
1. Within a Niche - I suspect that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for new bloggers to carve out a space for themselves in their niche. Four years ago when I started blogging (and I was a latecomer to the scene) it was a lot easier to start a blog and become accepted by other bloggers on the same topic. These days things have become more competitive and the market has become more crowded (and as it has it’s become more difficult to keep track of everyone). There’s regular talk of the exclusivity of the ‘A-list’ of bloggers – but I suspect that it happens not only at the highest levels but also within different niches.
2. Within Blogs - Once a blog’s been running for a period of time there is potential for it to slowly become a little cliquey also. You gradually see the same names popping up comments each day and a little community emerging. This is not a bad thing – but for an outsider it can feel exclusive and difficult to break into.
I’m not sure I’ve got the answer on how to make a blog (or a niche) more open and welcoming but in tomorrow’s post I’d like to suggest a number of strategies that might work – particularly on an individual blog level.
In the mean time – I’d like to hear people’s experiences of blogs and blogging – especially newcomers to the medium. Have you felt excluded from a niche or individual blogs?
I’m not wanting to start a ‘bitchy’ thread about it – but am interested to hear if people have felt on the outer or not.
I’m also interested to hear from more established bloggers on how they work against exclusivity in their blog and blog’s niche.