I was intrigued by Punks and their music when I was growing up. They were so far off my radar that I absolutely loved their difference. Their only ambassador, the Sex Pistols, managed to get banned from TV, making them even more daring, and the real-life studded electric blue and pink mohicans tended not to hang out in quiet provincial towns with me and my pudding bowl hairdo.
They were unforgettable. And still are. Their manifesto might have been nothing more than a broad anti-establishment middle finger and as much anarchy as their doll money would allow for, but they were so different and true to their punkishness that they created an amazing brand for themselves.
With the internet and its mind-blowing power to seek the counsel of anyone who is online, I’m not sure that whole Punk thing would have been quite as successful if it launched today. The space of the up-start rebel has been quashed by the thousands of self-anointed online vigilantes. There isn’t much space for acceptance of being eff-ing different.
The new anarchy is owned by the Social Media Slapper, writing prolifically under a pseudonym which tells anyone who listens, or reads, what to eat, what to wear, where to go, where to stay, what to buy, what to sell, how to breathe and what to do if you die.
It’s the revenge of the people you had forgotten, from school, from uni, from your first job, from a very tenuous blood line, but remembered in a moment of misplaced evolutionary hope followed by linking them in or doing the facebook tweety thing.
Having managed our lives quite successfully without them for ten or twenty years, suddenly they’re telling us everything we need to know and for the first time we’re searching for ‘privacy settings twitter’.
But you, as individuals, have a head start on us businesses here. You know the nutter you’re dealing with. If it gets bad, which it will, you can pretty much privacy set them out of your life, but what should we do?
We live in fear, that’s what we do. As businesses, we daren’t give out messages any more about the stuff we’re doing because we know that someone somewhere will shoot us down and that is BAD.
We’ve all surrendered to the opinion of an uncontrollable army of people-who-can-be-bothered to express themselves.
We fret and fluster around bobcat76’s post on that loathsome website hellopeter.co.za, where we pay R30k+ per year for the right to respond to a sea of unfiltered outrages because we have all convinced ourselves that the outspoken ones, the new Punks, represent your and my opinion. But I still have a pudding bowl.
One foot out of line and they can wreak tweet on us and burn us at the Facebook. It’s an absolute nonsense.
Businesses have become ballerina brands, tip-toing around desired customers in an attractive synchronized metronome movement, because very few of us dare to dance outside the step of mass opinion. And the result:
“I’ve checked your website, I’ve been to your webinar, I’ve seen your adverts, I’ve bought a couple of your products and for the life of me I can’t remember what your name is.”
The business I work for, Web Africa, is a prime culprit and I’m fed up with it. We’re so much more than a machine which respectfully answers disgruntled customers who feel the need to go public when they don’t get their problem sorted privately.
I’m not saying they’re wrong, because usually they’re right. What the public doesn’t see though is that over 60% of our customers rate us 9 or 10 out of 10, with very few rating us below 6 out of 10.
Pandering to the vocal few is boring, superficial and unrepresentative of broader opinion.
We absolutely love our customers, we have many internal initiatives under way which are all based around listening to what our customers want – all of our customers, not just the vocal ones, and we try very hard to make them all happy, and not to be overly influenced by the new age punks, as I was.
We need more Marmite. https://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00685/marmite-404_685611c.jpg
Be something different, bring on your trolls and haters, the good stuff will follow.
Our beautiful internet. Early days.