Today, I raise the stakes in my goal of sharing my thoughts publicly by writing a letter to you, the reader.
I know who all twenty-six of you are, and yet I’m disbanding from common writing advice: “Picture a single reader and write for that very person.”
I care about your opinion, I’ve enjoyed conversations with each of you, yet when I think of writing only to one of you, I begin to reference shared experiences and memories that would exclude the remaining readership.
And that annoys me.
I try not to create conversational out-groups when I’m among friends, and I feel that’s reasonably achieved by discussing topics that people know something about or would like to know something about.
My experience in the out-group has occurred when I’m with a small group of people and someone introduces a topic that only some people are privy to or interested in (e.g., the unbelievable living conditions of their dormitory building from ages 20 to 21).
Here’s one way I’ve seen it play out.
A founding in-group member introduces a topic as a bid for connection, then the soon-to-be in-group members see the cue, respond, and affirm. Communication fosters connection among the in-group, and shared vocabulary and experience reinforce the conversation and its implicit rules of participation.
As the in-group forms, so too does the out-group’s felt sense of discomfort, lack of participation, and non-verbal cues of ‘checking out’, which go unnoticed at best, and ignored at worst. At this point, I believe it’s the responsibility of a compassionate in-group to recognize their circle is missing members and make a bid to include the out-group.
But, they may not.
The in-group may choose to reaffirm each other’s opinions, status, and need for acceptance at the cost of continuing to exclude the out-group.
Now, a chasm has formed between the ‘non-participating’ you and the ‘participating’ you, as you wait and yearn for a subject that’s close, relatable, or of interest to you.
Then again, maybe you go rogue.
And that’s enough of that.
But, before I digress completely, what would you do?
A) Leave the conversation
B) Propose a new topic (make a new bid)
C) Participate superficially in the conversation (go rogue)
D) Express your feelings (e.g., “I’m feeling left out”)
E) Wait and nod a lot
F) Wait and avoid eye contact
G) Just wait
H) Escape to a mobile device
I) I can’t relate to this scenario
J) Something else (do tell)
I’ll share share the distribution of responses in my next email.
What to Expect
Every now and again, I’ll write a letter to you. The Internet calls this a ‘newsletter,’ but the information I relay may not qualify as newsworthy or recent.
The letter will likely begin with a partially developed thought agnostic of a recurring motif, industry, or domain; continue with my most recent blogroll; and occasionally end with something interesting or entertaining from the Internet.
Please provide feedback that will help me improve my writing, thinking, or presentation. I operate by Crocker’s rules.
Here is where I will share what I’ve recently written. I strive to not let perfect be the enemy of subpar.
I’d like to find and connect with companies that are competent and doing meaningful work (i.e., doing work that addresses answers to the question, “What are the most pressing challenges facing people today and tomorrow?”).
The road to hell is not paved with good questions. In this post, I discuss how we can do better than to ask, “What can we be doing better?”
I like to dance and I’m rather choosy about where I go dancing, so do stand on the shoulders of my experience.