"Are you famous ‘cause you're friends? Or vice versa, It depends."

Are you famous ‘cause you're friends?
Or vice versa, It depends 
on where you're standing
I can't tell from where I'm standing now

They always said be yourself
As if I could be someone else
Someone I'd rather be
If I were you would you be me?

-[molly nilsson, qwerty (censored version) history*] -

I wish there weren’t cliques. I wish there wasn’t elitism and attitude; I wish I saw people hold each other up often and embrace. I wish there was no passive aggressiveness and lack of directness. Too often there is pretense of holding up one another, but then, under the surface, I hear people talk about one another negatively and passing judgment – people snub one another while simultaneously promoting #this #that #andtheotherthing. We are all WONDERFUL creative people and everyone has something to offer. I don’t think this topic gets talked about very much but I think it’s a really important conversation. It can be seen in all kinds of communities, but I do think the design community has it’s own particular brand of this that can be really frustrating to experience. Nothing gets under my skin more than seeing someone excluded....or of course being excluded!

At one point in the past two years I remember running into someone on the way to a meeting who I’d never met that was a friend of a friend, and I was so excited to see them and we happily introduced ourselves. After, the person I was meeting with told me “that that would never have happened between other ‘creatives’ ” and that most people just usually snub each other and walk away. I was so surprised that that would be the case! How dreadful that that is usually the norm! Since then I have heard tales of such snubbing occurring and I find that absolutely mortifying! Uh guys, can we please change this ASAP? When I meet other creative or business owners I am EXCITED because to me it’s like pokemon – I gotta catch ‘em all and get to know them all! I am constantly inspired and in awe of all the awesome things I see people doing around me.

In a way, it takes me back to high school. In my calculus class three “jocks” Jon and Matt were teasing the one “nerd” Joe. Then the teacher (the uncle of one of my best friends) starting teasing Joe too. I can’t remember what the teasing was about but it was completely inappropriate for the teacher to join in, and as a fellow “nerd” I couldn’t let that be. I remember interjecting, quite nervously, and said to the teacher “I don’t think Joe likes that.” The teacher said “Julia, how dare you talk to me that way, just because you are best friends with my niece don’t think I can’t get you in trouble…” and he went on and on and started yelling at me and it went on and on and I started crying in front of the whole class and ran out. Later the school had the teacher call me and apologize which was awkward…..but still….if, as kids, we see adults doing this – will we do the same thing when we grow up? Have we learned to be exclusive?

So what is under the skin of this excluding behavior? Do we feel threatened that someone will win at this game and we will lose? Indeed, "relative success, tested by an invidious pecuniary comparison with other men, becomes the conventional end of action. The currently accepted legitimate end of effort becomes the achievement of a favourable comparison with other men..." (The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen)

Is it this the #fomo that I just learned the acronym for the other day? Do we get highs from making other people feel inferior? And then when they are mean to us, why do we try harder to get them to like us - is it like in Mean Girls where Gretchen keeps trying to get Regina to like her? I have no clue. I’m sitting here trying to think about it and my mind is going blank because it’s such an intense emotionally charged topic and it is always swept under the rug. Back in Boston, there were a few creative types that I very much wanted to be friends with and tried SO hard. But I was met with intermittent friendliness mixed with a good old dose of passive aggressive aloofness. Still to this day I don’t understand, and in the end all I could do was walk away.

Luckily, I have been met with incredibly open arms here in Philly and think the creative community here is WAY welcoming and I am super grateful for that. But whenever I see a twinge of it, in person or on social media or anywhere – I’m like – for really? How can we help foster a creative community that discourages this? How can we change this?

*I would like to give a big shout out to Molly Nilsson, who I don't know at all, but whose music and work I have found SO inspirational the past year, and whose song seemed like the perfect match for how I was feeling about all this *