On Being Friendly

So cool.
So cool.

This kind of made my day this week as I got a direct response to a short little newsletter I sent out this week where my intent was to simply show my gratitude for my community and for my customers.

2014, in many ways, was a year characterized by grace and gratitude for all that I have and all that I’ve been able to accomplish. The key, though, is that I wasn’t able to do this on my own – I had a lot of help from my family, my friends, and those that have supported me over the years.

And now, of course, I have a growing community around the app that keeps me jazzed about where I’m headed with it this year.

As I meditated on this email I wondered about the word choice that this person decided to use. Proactive? Yes. I try my very best to respond to every tweet, message, email, and more. I try to do more than just react, obviously, and proactively create opportunity for the community to engage with me in multiple ways.

Super-helpful? I hope so. I don’t have all of the answers and most of my answers aren’t very good, but I try my very best to create value. I mean, the process of writing (and doing it consistently) doesn’t get any easier and we all need as much encouragement as we possibly can get when doing this great and worthy work.

Friendly? Ah, that’s curious to me because I have not always been the nicest nor the friendliest person on the internet. The truth is that I once saw the internet as an opportunity to just shout my own opinion at people instead of seeing it as an opportunity to close the gap between myself and many other individuals. I suppose I wasn’t a very positive person.

What happened was I got my (digital) ass kicked, over and over and over again. I began to understand that that type of behavior was not only unnecessary but entirely without use. And, it was just exhausting. People started (and continue) to say mean things about me and the work that I was doing and I realized that it really hurt, like really hurt. After being treated poorly myself I decided that I didn’t want to do that to others.

So, I suppose, I became a much more friendlier netizen.

I read a great essay by Paul Graham just a little while back titled Mean People Fail – it’s a quick read and his thoughts aren’t groundbreaking, but it’s a solid reminder to all of us why we should just be nice. His context is that of the startup founder yet the application is pretty universal. I particularly like this quote:

Increasingly you win not by fighting to get control of a scarce resource, but by having new ideas and building new things.

This couldn’t be more true than online, especially if you’re trying to build value for others while not having many resources to do it (i.e. being an indie developer). Collaboration and engagement is the name of the game while fighting and being mean, well, those make you fail.

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