No One Wants To Know What You Think: The Trouble With Blogs #himc

HyperIslandWhile I’m supposed to be blogging about my “ahas” from a HyperIsland Master Class I just had the lucky chance to take, I’m at the moment inspired by a side comment made to me by a very senior executive.

No One Wants To Know What You Think

He wasn’t saying it “to” me, or “at” me, it was just sort of a comment, an aside, about the way things are in general, especially on the web.

I was inspired enough to google “No One Wants to Know What You Think” and found a few interesting points.

First, most of the results came back as links to comments on YouTube Channels or forums.  For instance:

Why Ashanti NPP Supporters and – Have Your Say on ModernGhana!!!

You +1’d this publicly. Undo

Jan 27, 2009 – no one wants to know what you think, anyway who do you think you are to talk about the former president and otumfuo like that you need your


Algeria Offer Coaching Role To Zinedine Zidane » Who Ate all the

You +1’d this publicly. Undo

Mar 10, 2010 – No one wants to know what you think, last i checked, your not all that up to scratch on your football knowledge so just button it because we don’t

I was interested to find the “No-one-wants-to-know” in relation to sports and politics when the source is international.  Presumably no one knows each other on these forums either – it’s all anonymous.  You can say whatever you like.

Here in the States we have 6 Things Everyone Wants To Share And Nobody Wants To Read.  As this article mentions, the types of stuff we imagine we don’t want people to share are the sort of borderline TMI  – like what they had for breakfast, top news about their cats, quiz results, and so on.

But do we not want to know if it is someone we *do* know?  During the HyperIsland Master Class, one of our group members lost her cat. She was really worried.  I was worried with her and about her.  She tweeted when she found the cat.  I cared about that.

But back to this – one Google result struck me and it is not from the usual source.  It is from someone named Chuck Williamson, the Assistant Principal at Marion Jr. High School in Illinois.  He says:

1.  You must use your real name when posting.  No one wants to know what you think until they know who you are.

His blog goes on to two posts that resonated with me because the first is about the contagion of human emotions, in which he shares a picture of two children crying on Santa’s lap.  He writes about being in the car when one of his children started crying over ice cream.  Then his other child, supposed asleep in the car seat, joined in, for no discernible reason other than crying is contagious.  He also talks about positive emotions being contagious.

Nicole at ArrojoIn the next post, he talks about “What Not To Wear,” talking about wearing jeans to work. Coincidentally, I go to Arrojo Studios, owned by former “What Not to Wear” star Nick Arrojo, and get my hair cut by Nicole, who was once on “Shear Genius,” another reality show.  [Update:  she’s now here.] However, this precise fact isn’t what synched the Assistant Principal’s post for me.  It was more a tweet exchange from folks at work that we’d watched on the screen during HyperIsland, ribbing a newcomer to our company about wearing white pants after Labor Day.

The tweets spilled over into in-person conversation, in which I held that you can wear whatever you want in New York and no one will notice, because no one cares what you wear. Others told me I am wrong about that.  This was a contagion for me, leading me to ponder, (but not too stressfully) my own sort of lack of interest in fashion sense.

Recently Nedup had said to me that in Himalayan cultures, clothes and appearance are very important, not only to display wealth (as most ethnographers usually note about those cultures),  but on a deeper level for one’s own wangthang, which means one’s personal energy, a power to attract, to broadcast an energy that is a contagion for the auspicious, the lucky, wealth, and so on.  Exactly why I go to Arrojo. [Nedup reminded me that actually I go to Arrojo because it is only one block from where I work and that I used to go to a less famous spot when I worked up at Ogilvy because of its proximity. 🙂 ]

But back to the Assistant Principal’s statement: “No One Wants to Know What You Think Until They Know Who You Are.”

Another point had come up during HyperIsland about the merging of the “virtual” and the “real.”  As the presenter spoke about it, someone claiming to be the “Real” former-employee-of-my-employer posted in our “#himc” Twitter feed with some admonition about us getting over ourselves.  Aha!

Earlier in the day we had been tasked with doing a 60-second presentation on what our background is and our expectation for HyperIsland.  Many, many people told about their birth order when they made their presentations.  And I cared about it because I know those people. But the real ‘aha’ is in that I thought perhaps, as Lyssa Adkins might say, we were being lead to “get over ourselves” so that we can strip off the “who we are” and really participate in the team exercises.

And finally this is leading me back to the point of this post. (Sorry!)  “I cared about what is being said because I know those people. As the Assistant Principal says, I know who they are.  I haven’t really said who I am on this blog for a variety of reasons.  In some ways, I am taking a page from Ron Jeffries:

@RonJeffries Pinckney, MI
I’m sure you can figure out who I am if you really want to.

Ron Jeffries is someone who has gotten to “Done” on something in his life.  So you can “know who he is” and care about what he tweets and writes because, well, he’s done something. In my case, you can “know who I am” because you are networked into me through the internet industry and so on.

Clay Felker - on NY Magazine

Read about Clay Felker at NY Magazine

This is why Journalists don’t put their opinions (er, aren’t supposed to put their opinions) in their pieces because, well, they are just observers, collecting information.  In the era of New Journalism (founded back in the early 70s), an old boss of mine, Clay Felker, might shout at them “But you’ve got to have a point of view!”  This “having a point of view” these days and the fact we feel we “know” journalists (when they appear on TV) has lead to us suddenly caring about the opinion of someone whom we really don’t know.

They are not anonymous.  And I’ve added in pictures of people I’ve written about into this post, why? So you have some idea of who they are.  Even if they don’t really know themselves who they are.  On another thread, I’d run into Faris Yakob on the street and this lead me to read Fast Company’s article about Alex Bogusky.  The same executive who had said “No one wants to know what you think,” had also mentioned that he hates advertising.  Bogusky took this to the degree that he quit advertising.  And Faris Yakob has taken a fair share of a beating by anonymous posters on forums.  You might want to read Faris’ article on social media at Fast Company if you do see any of that beating.

Well, back to the point, if I have to.  Because you may not get this far because you may not care what I think.

So, does all this mean I’m going to suddenly make very clear on this blog who I am and where I work?  Nah.  If it is slightly anonymous, I can write whatever I like. You can figure out who I am if you really want to.  🙂

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