After my last post I sat down and spent some time pondering why it is rather difficult for me to promote my own work. I’ve been on uneasy terms with “the Internet” ever since I first became aware of it back in ’95 as mentioned in a prior post. No doubt the web has created a lot of great opportunities for numerous creatives. Many who once struggled getting their work in front of people are now successfully marketing themselves, often accomplishing quite amazing feats of recognition. These days it seems the whole world is online, opening numerous possibility for finding one’s audience. While back in the day authors needed publishers to get their work out in the open they can now potentially do it all on their own. While musicians had to be signed to labels to sell their music they can now seemingly reach their listeners directly. There are indeed many examples of writers and musicians and artists who have taken advantage of all those new possibilities and reached their dreams.
Human society reacts in much the same way to changes in the economic environment as nature in the ecological: the more you add on one side the more you have to remove on the other. A new species that becomes the predominant inhabitant of an area will displace a long established one. In economic terms: as new media rises old media declines. Many that once felt they were barred from opportunities are now creating their own, in the process reducing the availability of established opportunities. This can, and often does, negatively effect those struggling to take advantage of these new opportunities because they prefer the old ones.
New generations are quick to say “out with old, in with the new”. Let enough time pass and the old becomes new again and the new old and the cycle restarts. Traditional publishing is frequently frowned upon by those who feel that the new models offer much more freedom and opportunities. Though one important question begs answering: how sustainable can this “do it all yourself” approach be in the long run? While I could easily dive deeply into economic terms and the rise, and fall, of big business and its underlying fundamental needs and requirements for catalysts I reckon it would significantly exceed any bearable post length. The conclusion though would be that each one of us has a sense of what is natural for and to us.
The term natural has a quite lengthy definition. In terms of this post I am using it as our very personal perception of what is right and what is wrong according to our unchangeable core character. If something feels right it is natural, if it feels wrong it’s unnatural. While we can expand our acceptance of right and wrong from a rational point there is only so much stretching we can ever do from an emotional point. We have an inherent nature and we can go with our against that nature. Going against it only works for so long until all sorts of psychological effects set it.
If you’ve ever taken any form of psychological evaluation you are probably familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. If not it is “a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions,” according to Wikipedia. There are four dichotomies: attitudes (favorite world), perceiving functions (information), judging functions (decisions) and lifestyle (structure). I’ve taken this test a few times, usually out of curiosity, and my type always comes out as INFP: introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceptive. In short the idealist. Those who have met me in person however would most likely typecast me as an ENFJ (the giver). That is because there is a certain duality to all of us. Under various circumstances we can portrait a slightly different set of character qualities. However, we cannot sustain those for a prolonged period. Eventually we have to return to our core personality.
Being introverted means it is unnatural for me to interact with a large crowed. In fact, writing this post is accompanied by feeling uncomfortable since it’s going to be published on my blog and thus be open to the world. I much more prefer interacting with individuals or a specific group. Whenever I do so I feel in harmony with my nature and are intensely focused on the task at hand and less so on my surroundings. In a large group however I am more focused on my surroundings and I have a hard time getting through my task
Therefore, promoting myself on the web to the public feels highly unnatural. It is not in harmony with my nature. I can morph into an ENFJ for a period of time but like a shapeshifter in a fantastic story I eventually have to return to my natural form. If for one reason or another I am forced to keep acting as an ENFJ I begin to waver. I’d rather have someone else promote me, endorse me. My nature prefers the traditional route of publisher/label for my work. Years ago when I wrote for magazines I accomplished infinitely more than these days writing on my blog (see archives for months long gaps).
I am all for progress. Any form of standstill results in decline until things fall apart. But progress can only be accomplished when considering the past and potential consequences of a shift in approach. With a strong leaning towards independence from established business models the question is where does this leave those of us who prefer interdependence? It’s a complex matter that involves questions of quality vs. quantity, definition of quality, gateway and filter functions once held by quality keepers and the resulting rise of mediocracy. Perhaps though we’re already reaching a turning point where the spirit of free, unapologetic exploring is once again being reigned in by an increasing desire for quality of content and craftsmanship. It will not end the underlying struggles, after all even refinement is a matter of struggle, but it may just create more balanced opportunities as a result, opportunities that feel natural.
As always I invite you to share your very own thoughts on this matter.