What a load of Hollywood inspired BS!
…I’m probably going to Hell for this! And I know some people won’t agree with me.
But stay with me until the end (that’s where the unsubscribe button is anyway).
On the weekend in my jetlagged haze, I wrote a comment on a post on Facebook… and I ended up with an uninvited lecture, a troll and a swift unfriending.
But that’s not what I’ll go to Hell for.
No… apparently the crime against humanity I committed was to challenge the incorrect modern interpretation of the timeless concept known as, “pay it forward.”
Now don’t get me wrong!
I actually like and partake in paying it forward at every opportunity I get. I just don’t agree with how a lot of people use “pay it forward” because they are doing it wrong.
That’s right! I’ll say it… “They are doing it wrong!”
And right now, I’m totally over the whole slave labor aspect to the modern interpretation of “pay it forward”.
You may be wondering what brought this on. Well, pull up a chair and get comfortable…
The most recent incident happened last weekend.
I was reading through my newsfeed and I saw that a “friend” (who is no longer my friend) had written an article and was proudly sharing it on Facebook.
As I was fairly jetlagged, I read the article, didn’t agree with it… but I didn’t comment. But then some of the women in a group I’m in started to comment on the article. And their comments were spot on!
So I revisited the article.
The article was all about how newer writers should “pay it forward” and submit articles to their online blog… but not expect to be paid. And to do so was selfish and disgusting (a word I was to hear a lot more over my weekend).
The article writer runs a website/blog and invites writers to submit articles and in return, the writer receives “exposure and a host of other benefits.” (More like magic beans and dangling carrots!)
But it seems the website/blog doesn’t get enough articles because he had blasted his article all over Facebook in every group known to man. (I say that tongue in cheek because he couldn’t share his article in the women-only writer’s groups. We won’t let him in.)
His article was like a “Jerry Maguire” style manifesto of “pay it forward” BS! And worst of all, if anyone (like me) didn’t agree with him… he labeled us all as selfish, disgusting and unprofessional.
But the abuse didn’t stop there. He then went to the professional page I have for “The Copy Alchemist” and tried to slur my reputation there too. (He left rude remarks under my pictures.) So I had to ban him and remove the graffiti.
All because I said I thought his idea of “pay it forward” was wrong.
So why would I say that?
Because it’s true.
You see, pay it forward is “an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor.”
Basically, it’s a random or simple act of kindness you do to others without expectation of anything in return… but not the person who did something for you.
So if anyone tells someone to “pay it forward” or how to do it… they have made a “conditional command”, and well… that goes against the very principle they claim to promote. Savvy?
In fact, when you tell people how to “pay it forward” in a way that benefits you… then that’s more like “pay it back.” And that’s what I have my knickers in a twist about!
I see this happen all the time and I see good people taken advantage of because they have been told to “pay it forward.” And in their haste to pay it back… they often rush the process and are sometimes placed in a worse situation than when they received the original “gift.”
And I’m sure that’s not what “pay it forward” is all about.
What is happening there is the concept of “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” And that’s completely different.
It’s a bit more like the principle of “reciprocity” (givers gain)… but even then, it’s a loose association. Because, again like the pure principle of pay it forward, reciprocity is done without expectation of personal gain all the time. The idea is that both parties benefit when it is possible and right to do so.
As Zig Ziglar said… “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”
I personally practice both pay it forward and reciprocity. And I don’t expect anything in return.
If I do receive something in return I gratefully accept it (that’s a lesson in itself)… but the point is, I don’t expect it, nor do I place conditions on it.
Because of Knowledge Nugget #116…
“Conditions Cause Resentment!”
Let me explain…
Most people are happy to help others. It’s usually in our nature as humans to help people.
But when we are told we have to do something… that’s when we all get our backs up and resistance happens.
A “like to” has turned into a “have to.”
Think about it…
Imagine you like to cook.
You want to make some delicious cupcakes, so you go shopping for the ingredients.
You get home and you mix all the ingredients together, spoon the batter into your greased pan… and you cook them. When they are cooked you enjoy one yourself.
But because you have more than you need, you also decide to give some away to other people. And it’s a great experience and makes you feel good inside.
Now compare that with…
You want to make some mouthwatering cupcakes but you don’t have enough eggs. So someone you know says they will give them to you. You make and bake them, and when the cupcakes are cooked you go to enjoy one for yourself.
But the person who gave you the eggs conveniently “reminds” you that they gave you the eggs and without the eggs, you wouldn’t have made any cupcakes… and now, you have to give them some of the cupcakes too or whoever they tell you to give them to… because that’s “paying it forward.”
Ewww! It feels a bit icky, doesn’t it!
And those mouthwatering cupcakes have probably left a bitter, resentful taste in your mouth.
But I’m sure you get the point… And speaking of points…
The point the guy with the website/blog was trying to make was that writers should be happy to write for the exposure… not the money. And if they didn’t, they were rude, disgusting and selfish.
But the problem is… unless we can pay our bills with exposure, exposure is a useless currency. Especially when you don’t know where you’re going to be exposed or who you’ll be exposed to.
Dangling carrots, magic beans and “pay it forward” bullying may work for some people… but they don’t work with me. And that’s why I stand up for writers and people who don’t know any better. Or don’t have a strong voice.
You see, this is not the industry “norm.” And if people tell you it is… they are supporting a system of deceit, bullying, and abuse.
I mean seriously, you wouldn’t offer a brain surgeon to operate on you for the “exposure.”
You wouldn’t get away with offering your supermarket “exposure” in exchange for your weekly groceries, etc.
So why do people expect and try to bully writers into writing for “exposure?”
But writers are not the only people this happens to.
Most creatives and business owners will be preyed upon by people trying to get free stuff from them… for the ‘exposure.”
My advice is to assess every situation carefully. Which means you do a full risk assessment on your investment of time and what that exposure means to you. Because the exposure you get may not be the kind you were expecting.
And if someone has to tell you to “pay it forward” … chances are it’s really a “pay it back!”
Until next week… take care and pay it forward if and when you want to : )
a.k.a. “The Copy Alchemist”
P.S. So, do I ever write for free? Why yes I do! I currently write for the YMag for free. I see this as a way for me to pay it forward (the real one) and share what I’ve learned with other business owners.
I do it because I enjoy it and I was invited to contribute by Shar Moore (a dear friend of mine). I help the YMag with valuable content… and I get a bit of exposure but most of all I get a wonderful sense of fulfilment and contribution.
P.P.S. Did you know that each year I award “The Copy Alchemist Scholarship” to a person who needs help learning copywriting? (I get a free course from AWAI each year and I pay it forward.) I also do Clarity Calls for free for business owners who need help. I am always on the lookout for opportunities to do random acts of kindness. I find them and pass them on when I can.
My point is… we don’t need to be bullied into contributing. It is in our DNA to pay it forward. But people should only do what they can when they can.
P.P.P.S. I apologize if this week’s email is a little ranty. There are a few things in life that I’m super passionate about. And looking out for people who are being bullied and taken advantage of is one of them. I’ll resume our previously scheduled program next week. I’ll go through my notes from the past month and give you a big juicy knowledge nugget! I have one in mind that I think you’ll love!
Thank you for reading : )