I choose to surround myself with people who share my values, whenever possible, because it reinforces my commitment TO those values.
Call this an “echo chamber,” I call it a supportive community.
One that I NEED to guide me and inspire me so that I can continue being the type of human being who wakes up every day and re-commits herself to being a better person.
My grandfather used to say “You are the company you keep” and it always stuck with me.
I think the people we spend time with shape us. They shape our attitudes and beliefs. Our likes and dislikes. Our language. Our tastes. Our behavior. Our thoughts.
The more time I spend interacting with people who actively oppose my core values, the more they shape me, despite all my best efforts.
At the very least, it normalizes a toxic, insidious worldview as merely a benign “difference of opinion”. As if we were debating ice cream flavors instead of HUMANITY.
I don’t like the person I become when I start thinking racism, sexism, fascism are just “somebody else’s opinion” that I should tolerate and respect.
No, Uncle Roger. I do not need to keep you in my feed, endlessly antagonizing me with Antifa memes because you’re family.
Or to “learn” from your perspective. If I want to understand what your MAGA buds are thinking, it’s 100x more efficient to watch Fox News for 5 minutes or visit a few conservative subreddits.
I don’t need to slowly torture myself with the drip drip drip of your inane thoughts on how Hillary Clinton eats babies she bought on Wayfair.
Because of my job (and my generation), I spend a lot of time communicating on the Internet. Sometimes with hundreds or thousands of people a day, either for my own business or on behalf of my clients.
If I don’t carefully curate the online spaces where I spend time and attention, I don’t just lose my mind. I start to lose my heart, too.
I start to feel angry ALL THE TIME at EVERYONE.
I find myself engaging in destructive behaviors (like seeing an “It’s okay to quit dry January” meme as an invitation to pour a shot at 2 PM).
I struggle to live my values.
And I start to feel my reality shifting under my feet.
Add to that this strange new world of running an online business and having “followers” who react to everything I post online.
I look at someone like JP Sears who created his brand lampooning so-called “woke” spiritual people who were really wolves in sheeps’ clothing.
But then he became ONE OF THEM. (If you didn’t already know he’s gone full throttle into the anti-mask, COVID truther, transphobic, fake news bro-anon lifestyle. It’s so outrageous many people thought it was his usual satire for months. No, y’all. The call is coming from inside the house.)
Matt Hall said: “Amazing how quickly your audience changes YOU.”
Suddenly I realized that sharing your values as a brand isn’t just about attracting your ideal client.
It’s about maintaining your own brand identity.
If “you are the company you keep” as my grandfather said, and your brand has an audience of toxic, racist assholes (or their enablers) this will end up shaping your brand whether you like it or not.
We’ve seen this to some degree when brands and influencers get called out for remaining silent on issues like BLM or not doing enough to moderate abuse in their communities.
Having racists and sexists in your audience (and catering to them because they are “paying customers”) normalizes racism and sexism within your community.
Allowing your brand to be purposely vague in its values, so as to invite the dollars of people who actively oppose them, WILL SLOWLY DESTROY YOUR BRAND’S SOUL and create an unsafe environment for your customers who DO share your values.
Before you know it, you’re JP Sears and you’ve BECOME the parody.
This is a personal choice and it works for me. I understand why you might choose differently BUT —
I just came here to say this because I know SOMEONE out there needs a permission slip today to unfriend that uncle or client or high school friend ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Bask in the beauty of the echo chamber. The acoustics are GREAT in here.
Bonus: mine makes me a better person. Thank you for helping me.