A year ago today we closed on this house. When we moved in last September I told Rich I wanted to have a Nosy Neighbor Open House. We had spent all summer doing major construction and I wanted a chance to give all our new neighbors a tour (because I knew they were curious) without our furniture and pets in it. He was suspicious but agreeable to my crazy idea. The plan was to have the Open House from 12-4 on Saturday and then spend Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend moving. At 11:45am, Rich sat me down and looked at me very seriously. He held my hand and said, "You know, not everyone is like you, Genie. I just don't know how many people are going to want to walk around a stranger's house that's not for sale just so they can see what it looks like. So I just don't want you to be upset if nobody shows up."
I laughed and told him I figured it would be a good test of who the "cool" neighbors are and who would be offended by an Nosy Neighbor Open House. If they came, they were obviously cool and if they didn't, enh, screw 'em. We had a steady stream of traffic from 12-4 and had to kick the last guy out so we could go back and finish packing our old house. I teased Rich about all his concerns. It was a testament to the fact that there are just enough people in our neighborhood "like me" that would want to do something crazy like tromp through a stranger's house if they got a flyer inviting them.
Many months later, we just finished our fourth volume of this Living Out Loud project. In January, I came up with this crazy idea that I wanted to encourage other people to join me in the endeavor of sharing things about ourselves on the Web. It would be a group effort and I would wave my pompoms and cheer everyone on with prizes and words of encouragement. Everyone would love it.
After it was obvious I was not going to get more than the six video submissions I had received for this month's project, I wandered around the house not really sure what to do about it. I had promised a kick ass prize on the condition that 10 people participated (really eight if you don't count Rich's and mine) and didn't think it would be that hard to inspire people to pick something to record. But here I was, well short of my goal and with all my participants being from Megan's household, my own household and Karal (who has been a champ and participated every month).
Suddenly, I felt foolish posting so many Twitter and Facebook and blog reminders for something that I could have accomplished by just emailing Megan directly. I thought a super cool prize would inspire people. I naively thought that the simple requirement of just "tell me a story" in video format would get folks to try something. I thought the tutorials would at least get them started and that they would email me if they had questions because I'd be happy to help.
I just received an object lesson in how the rest of the world isn't like me.
I am ridiculously pleased with the entries that were submitted. They all kick ass and are each unique and fun. And they really are like a window into each person's world at the moment. That's what makes it so magical. I'm so incredibly proud of them all for working outside their comfort zone. Karal didn't even own a video camera but had to borrow one from me! She got her idea for the project at 1pm the day it was due but stayed up all night to finish it. She emailed me her entry at almost midnight and it is fantastic. Two of my entrants were under the age of 10!
It was just a little bittersweet, though, because I (again foolishly) assumed that people would like to talk about themselves on the Internet and would jump at the chance to play with a new medium. It turns out that really not everyone is like me. Hunh.
My disappointment didn't manifest itself in some huge crying jag where I felt sorry for myself. It was more of a stomping around the house thinking, "Fuck. You. You know what? Fuck you, Internet." And once I got past the fuck you stage, I wasn't even so much mad at the Internet as just very disappointed in the Internet.
Give me a few more days and I'll be over it. Focusing on the commitment of people like Rich, Megan, Karal and Kim to this project as well as the folks who have taken a chance and written really great entries in the past encourages me. Sure, not everyone is like me (not everyone on my street came to my open house last September). But a few people are willing to give it a try and from talking to them they've all found it very satisfying.
My problem has been in assuming that others would be as willing to try what I come up with. I spend too much time worrying that if they're not entering something, they don't care about it. But that would be like assuming everyone on my street would invite me into their house to snoop around versus just being more than happy to come snoop around mine. So in the mean time, I'll just keep doing my thing and not fret over it. Maybe it's not so bad that not everyone else is like me. I'm just pleased that those who do try living out loud once in a while get to experience just how fun it can be.