Who is inherently interesting? Who is worth following online? This is something that has been on my mind lately.
In 2008, during my days of The Great Interview Experiment of 2008, my mantra was, “Everyone is Interesting.”
Did you ever notice that whenever some expert is being interviewed on Oprah or the Today show, the person just happens to have a book coming out the following week? It’s as if it wasn’t important to tell us the cure for cancer until the guy’s book comes out, and then they don’t even tell you the cure so you have to buy the book.
Last month, after reading this comment by Karen Maezen Miller, I flirted with the idea that it doesn’t matter who is interesting, since everyone is mostly just talking about themselves.
Once you realize that everyone is simply talking to themselves about themselves you can learn a lot about yourself and nothing about anyone else.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to reach a compromise between my interest in others and fixating on my own needs. I started to filter my online experience. I downloaded “Social Fixer” to hide content on Facebook. I discovered that by filtering the terms “http” and “RT” in Tweetdeck, I could eliminate excessive links and retweets.
I feel bad hiding content from my friends, but I’m accepting the fact that my relationship with you cannot be based solely on your social media output. Just because you are a dear friend doesn’t mean I am required to listen your sales pitch about baby strollers. We can develop our friendship offline. In real life, I go to the movies with my friends. I don’t sit around listening to their work-related pitches.
This was my last status update on Facebook —
I authentically believe that everyone is interesting. And I love to hear about your passions. But at some point in your life you have to stand up and ask yourself, “Forget the others. What is truly interesting to me?”
Response by V-Grrrl:
“I don’t think everyone is interesting. That said, you don’t have to be “interesting” (to me) to have value and worth.”
The idea that everyone is interesting is ingrained into my psyche. To speak the words “not everyone is interesting” sounds like heresy, like the Pope refuting the Virgin Birth. We are all human beings. We HAVE TO BE INTERESTING.
Yes, more and more I understand that there are only so many hours in a day. And time is passing. We all have needs that must be met. And our different needs require us to focus on differently.
artwork by Erica Glasier
Some of us struggle to make ends meet. Others seek love. A financially secure SAHM might be seeking self-actualization through a career in art. A divorced woman might be battling depression. Our interests change depending on the current chapter of our lives. This doesn’t refute the idea that everyone is interesting. If you sat down with a stranger and learned his “story,” I guarantee that you would eventually find him interesting. Most of us just don’t have the time, or are too focused on our own needs.
So what do you do as a content provider, knowing that there are millions of readers out there, each with a different agenda? How do you make yourself interesting to others online? How do you become “influential?” Isn’t that what so many of you crave online? (self-esteem issues. see above)
I sat in McDonald’s this morning with my free cup of coffee for National Coffee Day, and came up with — The Five Ways To Make Yourself Interesting Online. Ha Ha. I’m going to use that crass, attention-grabbing statement as this post’s title, just to prove my point.
And I’m writing this somewhat seriously.
The Five Ways To Make Yourself Interesting Online.
1) Say something interesting.
Content is King. Write Well. Blah Blah Blah. My blog crushes are almost ALWAYS solely based on an individual’s writing or photography.
2) Do something interesting.
We like people who do interesting things. Sell a book. Finance a movie. Climb a mountain. Become a CEO. Have twenty children. Successful people and risk-takers are interesting. We even excuse your lack of talent if you grab life and live it well.
3) Have something interesting happen to you.
It is the oldest story in the book (hello, Joseph Campbell!). A Regular Joe is confronted by Fate, and is forced to become a hero. We instantly root for anyone who confronts death, health issues, or a tornado sending their home into the next township. But beware — the mob turns on you if you remain a victim too long. We like our narratives with happy endings, and our heroes overcoming their tragedies, turning them into successes.
4) Look interesting.
I hate to bring this up, but there must be a psychological reason that 99.9% of all spokespeople, actors, and models are youthful and attractive-looking, from those sexist American Apparel ads to the most angry feminist blog. And now that Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook have made the visual more important than writing, the Golden Age of text-based internet is over. Pretty people get an advantage in the media world. For the rest of us, we need to show off our cool haircuts and tattoos.
5) Become friends with interesting people.
Most of us are insecure, weak, and confused. We do not know our own true interests. We looks for authority figures to guide us. That is why there are so many lists of the “Best Writers” or “Top Bloggers,” and we follow them like sheep. We crave to know who is interesting. And if someone is deemed interesting, then by definition, everyone they know must also be interesting. This is how #FF works on Twitter. You assume that someone of interest would only recommend someone worth following. Unfortunately, in a world where a mention means a personal validation of interest, a system is created where friendship become a commodity. But maybe it has always been that way.
So, there you go — the five ways to become interesting online.
Say something interesting.
Do something interesting.
Have something interesting happen to you.
Become friends with interesting people.
Of course, only an idiot would truly follow my advice.