Something that’s always bothered me about HeroPress is that it’s just so happy and upbeat all the time. Sure, people talk about some hard things sometimes, but it always ends with everything being better and awesome and happy.
I’d like to clarify that it’s not always like that. Sometimes it ends in tears, frustration, and broken relationships. Ever since the beginning of this project I’ve been concerned that someone will read this site and think our community is perfect and the software will save them. I’d like to talk about that.
It’s Not About WordPress
WordPress is a piece of software, a tool. It doesn’t DO anything, any more than a rock does something. Downloading it won’t change your life. It won’t introduce you to people. It won’t increase your chances of a job. It won’t make your life better in any way.
“But wait!” you say. “What are all these HeroPress stories about then?”
I’m glad you asked. These stories are about people. They’re about hard work, late nights, reaching out, asking for help, and giving help. They’re about pain, struggle, growth, patience, and love. All of those things summed up are life.
If you want to have a WordPress success story, and unleash the Hero that is in you, in every one of us, then you must do so much more than download a piece of software.
The Real Difference
When people say WordPress changed their life, they usually mean one of two things.
1. They found WordPress to be a particularly useful tool which allowed them to better leverage their own hard work as well as opportunities that present themselves.
There are many people who work alone, building web sites for people in their community, and making a good living at it. WordPress doesn’t click with everyone, it’s not a universally loved piece of software. For others it does click, and they slip right into it and start doing great things with it. These people usually say “WordPress is the thing that made me successful”. In actuality, their own hard work made them successful. WordPress was merely a good tool for them personally, and made the entire process easier.
2. They found the WordPress community to be filled with positive, helpful people, and formed long term relationships with those people.
My own family are excellent examples of this. None of them are developers, they don’t make a living with WordPress, but they LOVE going to WordCamps to see people that have become as close as family. They love interacting with them on Slack and Twitter almost every day.
I know people whose lives have literally been saved because a friend in the WordPress community said “Hey, I’m here, you’re not alone, you have options, please stay”.
I know lots of people who make their living with WordPress who would not be doing that if not for an uplifting community of people who say “You can do this. We did it. Keep trying.”
3. I’m cheating and adding a third. The truth is, most people in WordPress have experienced both of the above.
So, summing the above, WordPress itself will do nothing for you. Hard work, persistence, patience, and quality relationships are what will change your life.
Where It All Goes Sideways
I’ve often said the WordPress community is like a family, in almost every way. You’ll have people closer to you than your own siblings or parents. But you’ll also have people you care about get into knock down, drag out, public screaming fights with each other. People who ask you “How can you stand that person, don’t you see what they did to me?”
People who are good friends with each other will say snarky things to each other in public.
Just like in any family, there are people who are jerks. People who hurt in their own soul, and so lash out at other people in public.
There will be times when someone you don’t know is mean to you. There will be times when someone you respect is mean to you.
Sometimes people are simply ignorant, and don’t know they’re being hurtful.
Does any of this look like anything you’ve ever seen in the WordPress community?
There will be times when you don’t get the job or the referral because of your skin color, or your gender, or your political opinion, or your accent. There will be times when the WordPress community utterly lets you down.
There will be times when half the community says you’re doing great, and the other half says you’re a complete loser.
There’ve been two excellent blog posts in recent weeks on this topic:
What to do?
I really believe that the vast majority of the people in the WordPress community are generally positive, supportive people. I think negative people are more vocal. As people we don’t think to say positive uplifting things as often as negative people. So what can YOU do?
1. Don’t Feed The Trolls
People throw garbage out into the community all the time. For the most part I think we should just let it go. Pay it no attention and it withers and dies. There is of course a time and place to stand up to abusers, but I’m just talking about the yappers. They’re not worth your time.
2. Try not to be a Troll, even by accident
Everyone has bad days. Everyone snaps at their friends once in a while. Try to avoid it. I know it’s hard, and no-one will ever be perfect at this, but when you find yourself about to unload on someone online, take a breath and just don’t. Walk away and come back later.
3. Forgive early, forgive often
You know those people who are generally nice, but snap at you? You know them, right? You know it’s out of character for them. Don’t snap back. If it’s out of character, don’t take it personally. What they probably need is space, compassion, and friendship. “A soft answer turns away anger” as they say.
4. Talk to people privately
Do you see someone doing something that looks hypocritical? Do you care about this person? No? Ignore it. Hypocrites are everywhere. If you want to spend your time being bothered by that, fine, but you’ll be a sadder, more bitter person, I promise.
What if you do care? Then talk to them about it privately. Say something like “Hey, I’ve noticed tweets from you saying you really hate hosting company X, but you’re also an affiliate, and you sell blog posts to them. What’s up with that?”
Maybe you’ll learn something new. Maybe you’ll find out they’re two-faced, and not someone you want to hang out with. For sure you won’t be dropping angst in front of the rest of the world, and you might make a more solid friendship.
The same holds true for just about everything. Calling someone out publicly, especially in a sub-tweet, should be a last resort. Not just because public negativity brings everyone down, but because it’ll make YOU happier, and help you have better relationships with people.
The WordPress community is NOT all rainbows and butterflies. It has its own share of ugly, and if you hang around here very long, you’ll see it, and some may even get thrown your way.
WordPress will NOT change your life. YOU will, and the people with whom you form relationships will guide and and impact you.
WordPress is an excellent tool, and comes with a generally positive community, but never forget that you’re responsible for your own awesome.
I really believe that anyone can be a hero to someone, that’s why this site is named the way it it. At least be a hero to yourself. You can do this.