January 27, 2012
Tooting Your Horn
Self-promotion stinks, and most people can smell it.
I've noticed a recent trend on Twitter where creatives doing great work talk about all the reasons that announcing your own great work is a bad idea. Re-posting a compliment you receive online is lame/disgusting/distasteful. I get it. No one likes the guy at the party telling everyone how awesome he is. And 99 parties out of 100, that guy isn't awesome at all. Or he was born on 3rd base and acts like he hit a triple.
In fact, I recently saw a post from a creative professional I respect immensely, @JeremyCowart that nailed this sentiment on the head:
I should say I wish there were a 100 Jeremy Cowarts. He does phenomenal work and seems to love Jesus. Those that I have worked with, that work with him, adore him. That's a good sign he's a stand-up dude.
My contention is that this oversimplifies an important piece of most artist's lives.
The same pin used to pop the "humblebrag" balloon, is also frequently used against those trying to do what God commands for our joy. Brag on Jesus. Brag on what he's doing. Brag on what's he's done. And when you have 140 characters, it's not always easy to tell whether someone is trying to throw themselves a party, or share their gratitude and excitement about what is happening around them. Cowart's point seems to be, "don't be that guy" but reading others I wonder about who gets arrested by the Humble Police because they tried to celebrate something worth celebrating.
Does it matter who is at the bar? At Cowart's watering hole there are currently 47,000 patrons, and I'm willing to bet he hasn't shaken hands with many of them. That's part of being crazy talented like he is; his Twitter follower list is a lot longer than his Christmas card list. What if you're online audience is mostly people that know you well and know your heart? I suppose that's not common, but I do wonder if announcing a big break in a bar's backroom with friends and family is different than the picture he paints. We all don't have 47,000 people at our party.
Maybe who's in the room doesn't change anything. But if someone follows you on Twitter, aren't they agreeing that your particular networking/promotion efforts are of interest to them? Obviously, posting your work, and posting other's comments on your work are not the same. That said, if Obama posts a message about Cowart's work with the Dalai Lama being awesome, I'm interested and don't blame him for sharing it.
It seems God is not a fan of folks who make the world about them. That said, most circles I run in are not proficient celebrators. Cynics don't celebrate. They criticize. I want to be less critical and better at celebrating.
As someone who is assigned the task of communicating on Twitter what God is doing in our community weekly , I wish I had a better handle on this topic. Would love input on this one.