I’ve been quietly watching a little ruckus develop on Twitter about the so called A-listers, the same old faces, the leaders in our field, the speakers, the ones sent down from on high to inspire and inform. There appears to be some resentment and I mention it only because I see it crop up quite frequently.
I’ve spent time in the past wondering about this. Why is it some people get all the fame and glory (or should that be flame and gory) again and again whilst I seem to spend my days hard at it, digging through shit and trying to make this damn website work in whatever browser is misbehaving at any given moment. It seems mighty unfair doesn’t it?
To be honest I probably had my chance to become one of those people sometime in 2004 but it passed me by, I was hopelessly unaware that such things could be done and by the time I’d realised it could be done, it all seemed so advanced, complicated and scary that I really didn’t much fancy trying anyway. Standing up in front of a room full of people who probably know more about the subject than I do and trying to talk about my work is not something I fancy thank you very much!
If I put my mind to it, I reckon I could probably have a go though, if I wanted to. I could start small, work my way up to a bigger crowd, find something interesting to say and take it on tour and maybe one day I will.
Meanwhile, it seems frivolous to spend my time resenting people who do. In fact I am glad they do what they do. Yes, sometimes I read a piece or listen to a recording and think, ‘ah yes but that’s the ideal, day-to-day doesn’t always work out like that’ but more often I use these talks, articles and opinions to bolster up my case when I need to. I steal their ideas and inspiration and try to use them in my work. Or I nod in excited agreement that I’d already worked such and such a thing out and now that person that I respect is saying I was right!
These stars of the web, who quite frankly my Mum has never heard of, have a purpose and a role and they do what they do again and again because they are good at doing that particular thing and people enjoy watching and listening to them do it. I am sure like the rest of us they have varying degrees of skill when it gets down to the nuts and bolts of actually doing the job; some are no doubt utterly brilliant, others just OK, all are very likely competent. Some are probably very nice people, others maybe not so, some could be propping up all kinds of personal weaknesses behind an ego, others just happy to be doing what they are doing. Some may be chatty and welcoming others a little aloof and caught up in their own hype. This is just life as we know it Jim, the human condition. It doesn’t matter a bit.
There’s no need to hero-worship the people who do this (though secretly there are just 1 or 2 that I do) but nor is there any reason to resent them. Let the market decide, if people are genuinely tiring of the same old faces they’ll stop paying to see them meanwhile they are adding value to our industry you just need to understand how to use the value they provide for your own gain.
So my opinion, in short, is this: Don’t be resentful if someone is doing a thing you’d secretly like to be doing, start doing that thing you’d like to be doing instead. There’s no gain in focussing your energy being angry with those people who are doing that thing you want to be doing; better time spent doing that thing and doing it better and besides life’s a bitch and those people will remember you being angry with them when you arrive at your first packed conference to talk looking for some moral support.