Welcome to our brave new world…it is a place in which style triumphs substance, and appearance supercedes truth. A place where the personal myths we create become truth, and are rechristened as “personal branding.”
We are in the age of the micro-celebrity. The era in which we don’t need to be fully rounded individuals, where simply being the “thought leader”, guru or expert in a certain online niche is enough. Warhol was right, we indeed will all have our 15 minutes of fame.
Deep down, we all really want to be the Paris Hilton of our own personal fiefdom. We’d all like to have red carpets rolled out for us, to have a tribe of fauning syncopants to “me too” our every post. We want everyone to realize what utter geniuses we really are.
The problem is that in online communities, like sewerage treatment plants, it is not only cream that floats the the top. It is easy, at least for a time, for the poseur to assume a position of stature within a community. The good news is that over time, and as the community matures, the fraud is generally identified, the true experts eventually become evident.
So how do we become that micro-celebrity in our online community?
- Be a good citizen – it’s not all about getting involved in the latest falderall. Take the time to welcome newbies, answer the simple questions, and generally be available.
- Correct The Incorrect – I see oh so many “accepted truths” that are absolutely incorrect. Perhaps they fit for one situation, but not for the one in question. Don’t let it pass, but do so in a way that builds the corpus scientia, without starting a flame war.
- Discuss and Accept – We don’t know everything…and we’re learning all the time.
- Give Credit – It’s easy to do, and everyone likes to be appreciated.
I’m tempted to add a list of what not to do, but instead I just offer this advice: before you are the teacher, you must first be the student.