I’m not weird
I’ve always said that Community Management is a more of a lifestyle, a passion, a higher calling than a career choice. Many of us get into the field not because we found the field of study fascinating in general terms as we talked to our high school guidance counselor. More often than not, the story goes, we stumbled into the field because we were passionate about a project, we volunteered to help out on a project that needed community management, or we just saw a need to rally troops around a higher calling (there’s that term again…) and we dove in head first out of need to help out.
And like so many other passions, this seems weird to many outsiders. The recluse who’d rather spend time with the vinyl that moves him, or the prepper who really wants to make sure his stocks are rotated and ready when a global pandemic (what a weirdo, right??), community managers who are willing to take heaps of abuse and name calling because they know that they are helping people connect around a topic of interest. Of course, it’s only “weird” to the people not doing it … as I wrote about in an earlier Confessions comic.
But life is about timing. Preppers had their moment to shine during the start of the pandemic when they weren’t waiting in 3 hour grocery store lines just to buy off-brand ketchup and uncooked navy beans because that’s all that was left in the store. A few weeks into the pandemic when the rest of us were going nutso, the recluse was offering tips on how to get through the isolation with grace. And throughout the stay-at-home orders, Community Managers have offered all of us their skills directly and indirectly:
- Grace – In a moment where each and every one of us is stressed and running a short fuse, whether online or in the line at the grocery store, bring grace forward in every interaction has helped many situations not flair from minor irritation into major conflict.
- Communication – One of the major tasks, roles, duties, and skills of a Community Manager is communication. We have to know how to communicate online and offline with skill, empathy, grace (there’s that word again!), ease, and hopefully succinctness …even if these posts sometimes get wordy!
- Honesty – There’ll be more about this one in upcoming Home Game comics, but honesty is something that is critical from a Community Manager. We aren’t about spin or marketing messages, we’re about shooting straight and sharing the truth, hard as that may be.
- Modeled Behaviors – If the Community Manager can’t act right, who can? Leadership is all about showing not preaching, and the CM leads by showing the right way to act. It’s always surprising to me how often the best way to rally a community to a cause or a better way of behaving is simply to act better yourself.
- Calm – Slow. Rational. Thoughtful. Calm. Discussion. can often help turn an amped up, crazy conversation into a more valuable, positive one.
- Structure – When everything else is going crazy around us, when everything else is hard to follow and know what comes next, Community Managers know that adding some structure helps calm the weary mind. We know that daily/weekly/monthly programming is more than just easier content programming for us, it’s comfort for our communities.
All these things sound like stuff that might help us through these crazy pandemic times, don’t they? Community Managers are probably doing more in your communities, online and offline, direct and indirect than you probably realized. Give them a hug (socially distanced, virtually, conceptually, of course) the next time you run into them. They probably need it. Because…ya know… Community Managing is tough.
Today’s strip was inspired by a feeling every community professional has had at some point in their career….the desire to do good, wanting to see realized the utopian vision of what online communities could do for the world while facing the forces of community members calling you a fascist dictator for taking down their post and arguing with executives for why you need to keep your budgets…all while trying to explain to your parents why your work isn’t “just computer stuff”, it’s important work for improving society.
And then, of course……….. you open Facebook. Yeah, maybe this career path is “just weird” after all.
Today is a big day for Confessions of an Online Community Manager comic. This is the first strip that is published on the new http://www.confessionsofanonlinecommunitymanager.com site! Thanks to the wonderful support of our shiny new sponsor, Vanilla Forums, we were able to build a new, awesome standalone web site! Huge thanks to our sponsor and our developers, Piotr and Monika!