One of the most amazing things about social media for me is that I can go up to someone (online), tap them on the shoulder, and say “hey, I really like that thing you did!”
I use my Twitter feed to praise people a lot. Some people might find this a bit “sickly” but screw them: I just like telling other writers/bloggers/creators that I like what they did. It’s genuine emotion. I know how it feels when someone says it to me, so I like to pass it on. A big circle of cheerleading.
We – us Internet Users – we scroll a lot. We scroll right past things and in our heads we often think “that’s cool” but then carry on scrolling. Most people, actually, don’t comment, or “like”. They just passively watch, scroll and look. Recently, at events, I’ve had a few people say “I really liked that your blog post you wrote the other day” and then go into detail about the bits that affected them, but I would never have known unless we had bumped into each other in person that day. It’s OK not to comment, but nothing beats that feeling of knowing someone’s read and enjoyed your thing.
I think it’s important we tell people when something has moved us or inspired us. A little tweet, a “like” or poke, or GIF or sometimes an email that just says: “hey, no need to reply but thanks for writing that thing today.”
Whenever I get nice emails, like this one about IRL Panel, it has a lasting impact on my whole day. That’s what made the IRL event so special, we really FELT the feedback and response. It was amazing to hear so many different reactions and it meant we could strive to make the next one even better.
Before the Internet, if you’d read a book, or watched a film, or saw a painting in a gallery you loved, you wouldn’t be able to say, directly to the artist, that you liked it. You couldn’t call them up and say “hey, you don’t know me, but I love your work.” Back in the day, you could probably try and write a letter to them, but it could get lost in the post, or you might not even bother because you’d think “ah they’ll never read it anyway.” You’d just think in your own head: “that is incredible!” and the artist in question would never know and you’d move on. But now a days: it takes 10 seconds to send a tweet. And no matter who that person is, they probably will read it.
So, I’m creating a new kind of “Tell Her” game. It’s when you tell someone (can be a guy too!) that you like their work. One of my favourite modern rom-coms is Ruby Sparks written by Zoe Kazan, my girl crush. She writes and acts and is just an all-round inspiring person to me. So I told her on Twitter, and she replied and sounded genuinely thrilled that I liked her movie. I didn’t expect her to reply or really be bothered about another person liking her film. But that’s the thing: everyone cares about how their works received! Even proper successful people! I love telling people when I like their work, and you never know when they might appreciate it. Your comment could have a lasting affect on someone. They could be having a bad day.
We assume people have their shit together all the time – and maybe some genuinely do. But most people want to hear from you. We assume that a compliment will just go into the vacuum and no one will really care if you like their stuff. But it’s not true: most people will always be grateful that you tell them when you like their work. Your random compliment could inspire them to keep going; it could be what’s standing between them and their next piece of work.
In a world where most people have no issue telling others what they don’t like, let’s try and spread a bit of empowerment instead. Tell her.
How I Grew Up Online
“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE
"Funny, honest, and nostalgic!"– The Debrief
“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic