Which book are you reading today?
If you think that you can "tell a book by its cover", I'm here to challenge you to think again.
Right now, the pervasive theme in our social dealings with each other can pretty well be summed up with: What box (socio-economic niche) do I and the people I relate with belong to…Soon as I've decided that, I'll know whether you're worthy of my attention.
The media and politics thrive on it. I don't know about you but I'm sick to death of all the hype about whether gays should be allowed to serve our country, the fight for / against the Latino vote and whether newcomers have the right to become citizens, the militant opposition to Muslims, the mad dash to disenfranchise Blacks and women of the rights, and the insistence that people who have been forced on welfare and seniors are slackers and ne're-do-wells.
Inclusivity / Exclusivity Phenomenon Hits Home
Somehow I bought into the myth that when we turned the corner and entered into the 21st century we were set on a path to a more gentle, inclusive and intelligent life.
Let's not pretend that it's all those other guys who are guilty of ruling out individuals and whole classes of people purely on the basis that they're different than the rest of us. We all do it at some time or another. I am not like every other women who was lucky enough to be born in the same year I was. We all may have lived through the same history. But each one of us experienced that history from a uniquely different perspective. You may be earning $50,000 more than others in your profession, but that doesn't mean you are that much better than they are. It's possible that you got where you are by sheer luck or hard-core negotiation. And yet, we do find ourselves looking at others who don't match our self-perception as somehow "less than".
Niche marketing is based on inclusion/exclusion criteria. Marketers are taught to break down the market to its smallest possible segments and to focus their efforts on these specific segments. There's some validity to that. People earning $2Million might be shopping for a yacht – but then again, they may be afraid of the water. After all you can't really talk to everyone the same way. Interests and needs are different.
Covers can be very misleading
But, this whole idea of classifications and sub-classifications of people has, I think, gone way too far. Just because you're 70-years-old doesn't mean you're like every other senior citizen out there and that you must be homebound and unemployable. Just because you didn't finish college, doesn't mean that you can't hold your own in the company of PhDs. You may be an entrepreneur, but that doesn't mean that you don't offer valuable skills and insights desperately needed in corporate America.
As a writer, I'm particularly aware of this phenomenon. I can't even begin to hope that everyone will like my writing or welcome my opinions. While we writers take some heavy hits when we receive all those rejection slips and fail to get responses from people when we reach out to make contact. But eventually we grow thick skins and move on.
Do you want to know what your clients or your readers are interested in? Maybe it's time to let your guard down. Get out there and talk with them eye-ball-to-eye-ball. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is good in theory but it and most other classification systems that try to label people by their behavior, needs, drives and interests have taken a beating. They work when you're in a stable social environment., maybe. But people have taken a beating. And those who may well have been on top of the world several years ago, right now may be right down there at the bottom scrambling for their daily bread. INFPs who function well when things are such that they can be themselves, have been driven far out of their comfort zones in a desperate attempt to go-getter driven salespeople or whatever it is business demands they be in order to be considered worthy to get employment.
People are people. Each individual has his or her own story. Each one of us has very unique insights and needs and interests. Although we keep thinking we know and understand each other, we don't – not by a long shot. Check out http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/online/3815/jumping-conclusions if you don't believe me. I can attest to the truth of this…I've been there – talked one-on-one with homeless people. And, you know what? I've been equally impressed with some of the wisdom I've found there as I have been on every other socio-economic level.
Let's not follow the common wisdom
We all know the common wisdom. If we've gone to school, taken any marketing or business classes or attended public seminars on how to improve ourselves, we all have an idea of how the common wisdom is applied in all our dealings with each other.. And, while there may be a little truth in it, let's stretch that truth to include and validate each other. We are, after all, each unique individuals. Let's start listening to each other and sharing our own experiences (even if we don't fit the mold). Let's look below the statistics and get past the need to put each other into neat boxes.
As a writer, I write because I want to share with you. Never mind the rest of the world. You don't fit in any box as far as I'm concerned. You are not exactly like all the others out there who are the same age, the same sex, the same profession. You aren't like everyone else who earns the same income. You are unique. You actually think. And, you aren't afraid to agree to disagree. Today, we may talk about art, tomorrow the state of the economy. Then again, we might get off on a whole different tangent – star gazing, our professions, our aches and pains. No matter.
Readers here are not ruled out….Speak your peace.