(This essay first appeared as a medium.com post)
I noticed something recently. People, for the most part, don’t share their friends’ “work.” By work I don’t mean 9-to-5 day job type stuff, I mean their passion projects. I feel like most people only share articles, pictures, and videos from well established websites. I guess these are “safe to share” because they are popular and are coming from trusted sources. But why don’t we promote our friends more?
I’ve launched quite a few projects and the lack of reaction can be incredibly difficult to deal with emotionally. You spend months pouring your heart and soul into a project. Then you launch it to the world and nothing really happens… Maybe a few people like it, and you might get a comment but that’s about it.
I’m not expecting my friends will like everything I do. My ideas might not even be that good. What I find interesting is this:
Friends will tell me offline how much something I did meant to them, but online I get little or no reaction.
Why is that?
I’ve never directly asked my friends about this, but I find it strange. To me, talking in person about a project, is similar to commenting on it online. The only real difference I can see is that talking offline can be little more private.
Perhaps it has to do with culture. In the tech, geek, and social media, circles it is common to promote other people’s work. I always see people posting something like “check out this amazing project my friend is doing!” People are constantly sharing projects, posts or ideas that move them. But outside these groups I don’t see much of that going on.
Maybe it’s because people outside of the tech space don’t understand the importance of a share or like. It acts as a form of promotion. Every time you share or comment on a friend’s work, you are letting other people know this is something worth paying attention to.
Sharing and commenting also validates the creator and their work. When you launch something into the world you can feel incredibly vulnerable and knowing that someone, anyone, cares is comforting.
Yes, you can always support your friend in person (and you should), but this doesn’t spread their idea to other people. We live in an attention economy where ideas that spread win. So if you want your friend to succeed, you should support them, and share their work.