Do you see everyone as an equal? Is the world one happy place where we’re all on tan equal footing?
A few weeks ago I read an article by Denise Urena. It begged the question of whether we should be a fan to those we admire, or see them as a peer. What should our community engagement be like?
This fascinated me enough to contact several people and ask the questions:
How do you balance between Peer & Idol?
Where does your line lay?
When do you ask the question, if ever?
The feedback lead me to three sides of the argument:
- The Fan
- The Peer
- The Neither
Are We All Equal In Our Community Engagement?
This is the stance Denise took in her original post, so it’s only fair to see what she thinks:
“They may be more successful, they might even be difficult to communicate with because of their success and time constraints, but you can still view them as equals – as people who are working hard on their craft, just like you.” – Denise Urena
This is a fair point. We all work hard at what we do, so should we really approach others as if they’re above us?
This is what had me from the start. This is why I like seeing others as a Peer rather than a fan. It validates what you’re doing, and in the long term, this creates a better relationship.
What about if you’re the Writer? Is treating your reader like a peer a good way to go?
Tori Tesori thinks so:
“I totally agree that treating people as peers is far more effective for both parties. This is something we hope to promote to our author friends! Be down to earth and personable with your “fanbase.” Treat them as friends, not like lower-class “subjects” or numbers on a sales graph.”
This is how I approach my writing. I’m not saying it’s the right way, but I feel to create relationships, this is what’s needed. Will my mindset change in the future? Maybe. After all, it’s easy to say such things when your following is small. If it grows into the hundred of thousands, is this still an option?
Community Engagement from the Blogger point of view will no doubt differ from a reader centric one.
The Uncomfortable Feeling Of Being A Fan
I paid great attention to David Gaughran’s opinions. David has a good following, but is still growing. These are his thoughts from the ‘Star’ point of view:
“I’m not even comfortable with the word “fan”. I tend to dance around it. When people discuss concepts like “1000 True Fans”, I automatically translate that into “1000 Passionate/Engaged Readers”. I guess that’s because the word “fan” implies (to me) some kind of idolatory or worship, that the writer is on some kind of pedastal and the reader is some kind of supplicant – which doesn’t seem right.”
And here are his thoughts toward being the ‘Fan’:
“Nothing is less becoming than fawning (which can be witnessed in the comments of any literary agent’s blog). The fawner won’t be treated with respect by the subject of their attention.”
It’s clear that having the mindset of a peer can be healthy. It earns more respect and helps you get on a level footing. A lot of it comes down to the relationship, though. Laura Dennis sums it up perfectly:
“just like in the real world, there will be people who you click with, to whom you’re drawn. If they reciprocate, then you know you have the type of peer connection that can be mutually beneficial.”
Sometimes you connect with people. I keep mentioning Sir Richard Branson, but if we ever did meet, and we hit it off, the chances of being peers – rather than a fawning fan – would increase. If we had nothing in common, this wouldn’t be the case.
To Sum Things Up
So there you have it. We’ve heard great things from twelve great people. Has an answer been found? NOPE!
I’m still a tad clueless on what my feelings should be. As I said in the beginning, I agree with everyone in some degree. One thing is clear, community engagement is a tricky subject.
If I had to create a conclusive thought, it would be this:
Our mindset should be one of building relationships. If we do this, we won’t see our fans as fans, we will see them as peers. We will also have the confidence to approach people who are ‘above’ us and ask the question. To truly grow, I feel both these things are needed.
HOWEVER, we need to create our own rules and respect those of others. As our community grows, we need to create a distance that is fair and manageable. Most of all, we must understand that we’re all people.
One of my questions was: Where does your line lay?
This is subjective and different for everyone. I think it’s less about being a fan or peer, and more about understanding what you believe. If we discover this, we can approach people – and treat those that approach us – in a reasonable manner.
Respect, I feel, is the keyword.
Where do you feel your line between fan and peer lays?
A huge thanks to all twelve people who got back to me. I appreciate your thoughts and feel you’ve contributed to a thought provoking series.
Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million