Kindness Is Not Cliquey-ness

One of the things I love most about social media and Twitter in particular is that it has the power to tear down walls, pull back curtains, and see what's there. For fans and novices, it might be the only entrée into an otherwise mysterious world, whatever that world is. It could be the sports, music, or film industry. It could be the world of writing about those industries. The latter is on my mind this morning.

When I started Church of Soccer five years ago, social media was my baby. I understood that doing it well would allow us to grow faster and have greater opportunities. So, I not only engaged with fans and bloggers, I also tried to draw the gaze of well-known journalists and commentators. I did pretty well. Between preparation, diligence, and luck, most people were responsive. Over time, I continued to build goodwill with folks, not because I wanted something specific from them, but because I wanted to be in the conversation–to be seen and heard.

This is why it frustrates me when I see or hear about the "cliquey" nature of some segment of Twitter. The curtain pulls back and we find a small circle of people with locked arms. Granted, the soccer world is about as tribal as it gets–rivalries are fiercer here than anywhere else. But I'm not talking about the cliquey-ness of Barcelona versus Real Madrid supporters. I'm talking about fans, writers, advocates, and people who work in the business (forgive the generalization. I only mean it exists across nearly all groups).

Exclusivity is antithetical to social media. We shouldn't exclude, nor should we bully, people who are new or different. That doesn't mean we're obligated to indulge their ramblings all the time, but there are civilized, respectful ways of not getting drawn into lengthy debates or heated arguments.

There is something remarkable about being polite in a medium that demands none, about being responsive when inaction is the norm, and about listening when we don't have to.