The desire to be a part of the “inner ring” and the “terror of being left outside” is a chief motivation underlying many human behaviors. C.S. Lewis highlighted the dangers in our “longing to enter” as well as “our anguish when we are excluded and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in.”
Lewis would not be surprised to see this dynamic in action on the internet today as evidenced by responses to tweets from the World Economic Forum in Davos, the South by Southwest music and technology festival, and the Disney Social Media Moms Conference. To overcome this desire, Lewis advised applying “conscious and continuous effort” to lead a life where you “conquer the fear of being an outsider” and focus on being a “sound craftsman” in your profession. You will then be “responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys.”
The New York Times recently featured how tweets from the SXSW festival had engendered jealously among those who did not attend, creating an online high school cafeteria environment. The Ms. Twixt blog noticed the same phenomenon at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference: “more than half of all tweets related to an event contain zero substance and seem to serve only to highlight the fact that an individual was invited and you were not.” Many attendees vehemently denounced this characterization with some dismissing Ms. Twixt and other critics as jealous outsiders.
In response, Ms. Twixt posted specific suggestions on how to use social media inclusively. If these events are truly designed to further professional development and hone crafts, they will heed these tips. If these events exist to create inner rings, then “exclusion is no accident: it is the essence” and “there’d be no fun if there were no outsiders.” If the latter, then they are an inside not worth reaching.