Anti for the Sake of Being Anti Sucks

Token Anarchy Symbol
Image by Anonymous

There is a lot wrong with the online space. Heck, make that with the world. It is really easy to pick apart people, industries and society. But in the end, a constant anti-attitude really sucks, and it gets boring, too. What works better and makes life interesting is providing a solution.

Running counter current has its values, it certainly causes people to view things in a new light… Initially. But if there’s no substance or path towards a better answer, the “anti” simply becomes a malcontent. At that point, why bother complaining? No one will listen anyway.

For example, there’s a lot wrong with social media marketing, including an oft ridiculed influencer bubble. But if we as a collective group of unsatisfied industry members don’t provide answers and show different directions and possible outcomes, then we’ve done nothing better than become yet another arm chair cowboy/girl with a negative opinion. And which is worse, creating bad practices, or whining about them while doing nothing to better the situation?

When anti social media is tied to personal or organizational profiteering, anti moves at light speed from punk to poser. Especially, when you use the exact same tools and methods to promote yourself. If you want to be anti then walk the talk, or you will be seen as hypocritical.

Point out a problem? Fine, then provide a solution. But anti for the sake of being anti has gotten really tired in record time.

P.S. If you hate this post feel free to flame away on the Geoff Livingston Anti-Fan Page. :)

37 Replies to “Anti for the Sake of Being Anti Sucks”

    1. I’d say it goes beyond that. There are those who complain about it all the time, too. So what is that doing? I mean, I get it. I do it, too, but let’s start walking forward. It’s getting to be a real yawner if you know what I mean.

  1. Geoff – As an often anti-typical social media marketer (meaning I am very critical of the average social media “guru”), I agree with you. Being anti sucks. It’s actually boring. And not exactly fun.

    What I (and we as a company) have chosen to do is to try to put all the “anti” into our practice, and simply preach and teach a different way of doing things – that’s us providing a solution, as you mentioned. This is great when it works, but discouraging when someone starts referencing some of the folks we’d call pretenders. Thanks for the post.

    1. Or when some of the bubble gum creators start hacking your content. But in the end that’s a victory because your ideas are spreading. I like your approach, and thank you for adding your comment!

  2. I hear you, but I guess I’m just a pessimist because I don’t think there really is a solution. Especially in a space where the “haves” often seem to “have” so much–opportunities, book deals, perks, weblebrity, etc–I think it’s only natural that there’s going to be a mixture of both envy and “hey–I’m as smart as/smarter than that person, how come I don’t get X” and that is going be expressed as complaining…and/or just plain whining.

    1. Someone has to make lemonade. There’s always a silver lining, a better way IF we look for it. Otherwise, we get mired in the negativity. That’s just my experience.

  3. I’d hate for people to take this as a call to top being critical- not that I think you are. Constructive criticism is sorely needed among us social media you-know-whats, even- and especially- those of us who are good friends, and people should have thick enough skins to take the constructive criticism and ignore the rest– and the smarts to know the difference.

    Thanks as always for making us think (though I’m tempted to look at your headline and say “smile when you say that”- ;P)

    1. Criticism is going to happen whether we want it to or not. Even if I did tell people not to criticize it wouldn’t work… In fact, criticism is good, too. We need it. What sucks though is when people just criticize for the sake of criticizing. They have nothing to offer. They are the boy who cried wolf.

      All recipients of criticism have a choice to listen… Or ignore. It becomes easier to ignore the voices who are always anti because they bring nothing to the table. That’s really the point of the post.

      No incident or criticism caused this post. It was just an observation.

  4. It’s hard until you think of it like a garden you really like. There’s got to be some pruning of the weeds at some point – talking alone doesn’t do anything. Even if it isn’t your garden, or doesn’t feel like it, or if you have the idea that things it will never be perfect and the weeds will grow back….

    Eventually, if you truly like, even love, the garden, you have to do some upkeep. Or stop paying lip service to the fact that you like the garden, or hate the weeds.

  5. Are you talking about sites like this
    I just think it gives a different perspective on a topic everyone is talking about. While it’s true that the posts on that site may be somewhat one-sided because of the whole “anti-SM” thing, you’re always well aware of that fact. It’s satirical, like a lot of what’s found online, Rebecca Black?

    1. I used to think that. Then I kept reading, and I saw how bad some of the views were. And then I saw the calls-to-action and realized how it was a promotional vehicle for yet another social media voice who had nothing new to add other than negative hypocrisy. How does that help anything?

      1. I like that you’re calling people out on their hypocrisy, I haven’t read that blog too closely actually, so I can’t really refute what you’re saying–although I do enjoy the illustrations he posts quite a bit :D

        1. The blog would work Really Well if he didn’t converse on social channels (instead just published), didn’t ask for speaking gigs, or provide contact information. As the Italians would say, it would be the ultimate Fico. A true anti approach.

  6. I am a big fan of balancing out griping with optimism and action — something you reminded me of this morning on Twitter with your well-timed question.

    I think sometimes the biggest optimists end up the most disappointed at times, because they have real expectations that get dashed — you never get hurt if you don’t put yourself out there and have genuine hope. But I do (and I think you do, too), so it’s easy to want to shake a fist.

    It’s all about balance, I think.

    1. You know I have the same issues. Sometimes I write these to remind myself. I think you add a lot of light to the world, Meg. Congrats on your engagement, and keep moving the needle forward.

  7. Geoff,
    I think we need to “up the anti” (hee hee!) a bit when it comes to the online space but with strong and well-defined opposing views. It’s amazing what people will believe if it comes from a so-called “A-List” blogger but that opposing voice crying out from the desert just might make someone say, “Hmmm. I never thought of it like that. Let me take another look at this…”

    Most people are afraid to speak up, I’ve even seen very well-written posts get taken down by the author once under fire by an “A-Lister” and their disciples. There are people who make a living as social media consultants who are afraid to ruffle feathers within their community and then there are those that are afraid of a mass unfollowing should they challenge the ideas of an “A-Lister”.

    It’s a shame because there is so much banality (and outright stupidity) being published out there that needs to be challenged…but let’s do it right. Don’t attack the writer but the content and before you start calling yourself a die-hard Metallica fan, make sure you can air guitar the solo on “The Four Horsemen”, yes?

    Nuff said.

    1. Well said. And you know, I’d rather see the bad than not at all. No censorship! It’s just a pointer towards the most effective discourse.

  8. “When anti social media is tied to personal or organizational profiteering, anti moves at light speed from punk to poser. Especially, when you use the exact same tools and methods to promote yourself. If you want to be anti then walk the talk, or you will be seen as hypocritical.”

    I keep running into this guy who recently became a VP-something digital-something for a rather large PR firm. Pretty much all he does when he pops his little troll head on the twitternets is tweet about how stupid Twitter is, how stupid twitter users are, and how the digital space is a meaningless void of ego-tripping sycophants. I don’t know if he still does this (I stopped following him months ago), but he used to hit Twitter every Friday with transparent “unfollow friday” episodes of reverse-psychology pleas for attention: “Unfollow me,” he would cry. “Unfollow me.” (“Don’t look at me! Please! I don’t want your attention! For realz!”)

    He got his wish. Truth is, he never had anything constructive to say. He was just a d*ck.

    What makes this little d*uche even more of a poster boy for this post is that while he seemed to spend every online moment slamming social media and everyone whose work touches the space, he had built his own little made-up “personal brand” through his agency’s social media presence, as… you guessed it: A social media expert. Offline, he sold himself as a digital guy too. (“Social media? I’ve been doing that for almost a decade! Hell, I practically pioneered digital community management. Except we don’t call it that.”) Oh, the stories I could share. :D

    My favorite bit of hypocrisy is that for years, he used a contract PR professional to find and book speaking gigs for him – though the official story was of course that he was so cool that he was just in high demand. Where does this little genius speak? You guessed it: Social Media conferences. He has been a regular on the Social Media speaking circuit for years – and continues to be.

    To follow your advice about complaining vs coming up with a solution, here is my contribution to this guy’s unfortunate personality problem:

    The guy either needs to get in line with the rest of his hack brethren and become a cheerleader for a space he obviously still has a lot to learn about, or get off the train at the next stop and unplug from the twitterwebs. He’s pretty good at being a d*ck off-line too, so maybe there’s a career for him in the analog world, like, oh, I don’t know… stand-up or improv. Another alternative would be for him to seek treatment for what seems to be a low self-esteem problem, but that probably isn’t going to happen.

    As for the rest of us, I don’t know. Two years ago, when I got frustrated about some of the ridiculous BS being peddled online about ROI and best practices and whatnot, I gave people an alternative to bad science and snake oil. I wasn’t just anti-BS. I was also pro-knowledge. I started educating people. I wrote blog posts, shared presentations, organized training events, answered questions every day on Twitter, participated in podcasts, and eventually wrote a book so I could share what I know with people outside of the blogosphere. I fought BS not only with complaining, but with knowledge and insight.

    Complaining is a monumental waste of time unless you try and change what it is you are complaining about. It’s easy to complain and throw stones. It takes a little more conviction and energy to actually follow that process with something constructive and beneficial to the community. Anyone who is either unwilling or incapable of following through that way is just another worthless little troll.

    Good topic. Cheers, Geoff.

    1. “I fought BS not only with complaining, but with knowledge and insight.” This is the answer. Show us the path. I don’t know how many times I have heard about your ROI PPT from others, but the word of mouth on just that piece of content has been stellar. And deservedly show.

      I, too, try to show a different path and method through the blog, and I have consciously tried to share more positive information on my feeds. Problems are easy to see, showing paths is harder. Showing them together in an palatable form is the hardest of all.

      As to you VP “unfriend,” wow. Pretty sad stuff. But illustrating. Thank you for sharing this story.

      1. I was too. But sadly, I had more than one name flit through my head. Then I decided if it was someone I knew, I wouldn’t be happy knowing that about him. Then I realized that if it was someone I knew, I probably already knew that it was someone I didn’t want to know.
        You be mistaken, I’ll make myself logic-dizzy. ;)

  9. Well presented. Criticism is welcome. Cynicism is not. But even better than criticism is offering a better solution to whatever problem is plaguing the space.

    Unless, of course, you lace it with sarcasm. But that is a different concept all together.

  10. For me…it’s not so much “anti” as it is just being skeptical. As a former journo, that’s just the way my brain operates. I think it can be very healthy…to a point. But that’s only if others are willing to accept being questioned and not take it personally…and how that skepticism is framed, obviously. My favorite challenge in the PR/SM world is advocacy, but also crisis communications, so I am constantly on the hunt for solutions and trying to tackle them. I completely understand not everyone is like this. Most people are happy with status quo and NOT going against the grain. I respect that. Some dabble, which is where inconsistency and hypocrisy sets in. Just like I tell my 7 year-old girls, quit complaining or the “whiner fairy” will show up.

    1. Questioning is not saying no nor is it anti. It’s questioning. Asking for reasons, questioning the power establishment, asking for results with integrity are all legit. Saying no no matter what is a four year old’s game. There is a difference in my mind between what you are saying and anti for the sake of being anti.

  11. I’m guilty of being part of the “anti-” crowd when it comes to institutions and systems of “the world” that favor those with power and access (which social media fame is a subset of). I (and would posit – others) struggle to see solutions and that deadens innovation and progress. While it’s important to have iconoclasts (as Alan Atkisson calls them) in change efforts to shed light on problems, we need innovators and change agents to lead the way.

    I keep reminding myself of the quote I’ve seen attributed to Buckminster Fuller,

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    Is that what’s necessary?

    1. Yes, you have to innovate and show the new model. That’s how change happens. I think you’d be very interested in the Ashoka model of social entrepreneurship, which discusses this type of entrepreneurial change!

  12. You know, I actually enjoy Jay’s blog. I can see where you’re coming from on the “don’t promote and ask for social media gigs, etc” when it’s meant to be anti. So, kind of ironic.

    I prefer it to the crap that’s lapped up as gold because I have a book, or a horde of fellow blanders sharing my stuff, because that’s what we do.

    Problem with trying to be anti is often the ringleaders shoot the real anti stuff down with the minions. So maybe (for now) part of the answer might be middle ground like Jay’s stuff?

    I dunno – it’s a busy day, my head hurts and I have 9 hours of coding ahead later. Woot.

    1. LOL, well counter voices have their place, and often I am one of those counter voices. I think for us to take them seriously they need to be grounded in logic and integrity. I think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are great examples of humorous counter voices that succeed in that sense.

      Anti was a good read for a bit, but it struck me as repetitive and lacking in logic and integrity at times for the reasons stated above. I am but one reader. I see its purpose and value, but for me it adds little on how to move the ball forward. That’s what I want and what I hope to encourage.

        1. LOL, let’s just say it’s a challenge. But if you meet the challenge, I give you the post. Today’s post from @hksully was a result of that QR Code.

  13. The issue with taking such an aggressive ‘anti’ stance on anything is that you alienate the thing you are against to such a degree that it is no longer possible to communicate.

    Do you want to be heard only by the choir who already believe, or do you want to proffer change? The latter requires keeping reasonable, open channels of dialog possible. The old adage of “disagreeing without being disagreeable” holds as true today as it ever has.

  14. I got here late. But I’m glad I got here.
    I think this is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written Geoff.
    Someone has to say that the Emperor has no clothes – but it’s the guy that takes off his coat and covers the Emperor that is the one I want in my corner.
    Criticizing is easy – providing solutions takes more skill.

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