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The Cost of Selling Belonging


As someone who use to sell belonging and believed I was creating something universally magical, I now have fresh eyes on the harm that I once caused. I understand what can (and was) incredibly healing and impactful for some, was at the same time excluding, marginalizing and undervaluing others.

First, to anyone who ever felt like they did not belong to anything I created because they were unable to afford it or felt like they did not have the social capitol to join - I am sincerely sorry for not seeing you sooner. 

To our entire creative community as a whole, I urge us all to think about belonging in new and equitable ways, and to do the work of dismantling these hierarchical structures that leave so many people out of the circle. We all deserve to have access to creativity and belonging, and I'd go so far as to say both are fundamental basic human needs and rights.

Selling belonging can look like...
  • Creating spaces and experiences that can only be accessed by buying in at one, often exorbitant, price.
  • Using images and stories of "togetherness" to leverage other's longing for connection, to sell anything.
  • Paid exclusivity of any kind; private groups, memberships, gatherings, clubs, where entry is branded and coveted are all commodified belonging.
  • Use of the appropriated word "tribe" in any marketing or promotion.
  • Curating and building communities, especially its leadership, based on popularity, followers, or any kind of social capitol.

These are just a few examples I am thinking about. Can you think of others?

What I know as someone who has spent the better part of my life striving to belong - which I now fully understand as a false construct of belonging created by systems of oppression - what it ended up costing me was my Truth, which I am still in the process of reclaiming.

This is a price I am no longer willing to pay, and will never charge others again.

I want to learn better ways of operating, creating, gathering, and working together. Are you with me? Stay with me in the inquiry. Ask the hard questions. Sit with the uncomfortable answers. Begin to imagine what could be, and who else might then be included.




Comments

  1. This has me thinking new thoughts, especiall this phrase: images and stories of "togetherness"... thank you!

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    1. Thinking new thoughts is always good. And it's not necessarily the images themselves that can be problematic, it's how we leverage their power. Thanks for being in the questions with me.

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  2. Hmmmm. I just realized that I had this experience yesterday. I couldn't join a membership group at this point in time ($$$$) and was instantly relegated to the "dabblers" category, as implied by the language used in the free training that was provided. I was ready to fully embrace everything I learned from this training but now...I'm rethinking the title, the language, the membership and private group concept. I'm early in the process of entrepreneurship so there's hope for me to do my work without marginalizing and excluding. But working against the culture is a challenge because it's so internalized. Sigh. Wish me luck. I'll be hanging with you, Mindy, because this is important.

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    Replies
    1. It’s so internalized. Thank you for sharing your experience. Recognizing the systems at play is key! Once you start seeing the inequities, you can’t un-see them. It will definitely inform your work as you go. I’m so grateful you are open to creating new systems that work for all of us. Leveraging our human need to be part of a group for $ is so toxic.

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    2. Mindy: this post is EVERYTHING. I've linked to it in my own vision statement on my blog and will be rereading and reflecting on it regularly.

      Unknown Friend (I wish I knew your name!): I went through a period (2018-2020) where I was lapping up a ton of free resources on digital entrepreneurship. At first I ignored the psychological tricks because I wanted the information. Then at some point I thought, "Wtf, Camille? These people use shame and manipulation to make sales. Why would you want to learn ANYTHING from them?" Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe! (I do recommend Tad Hargrave of Marketing for Hippies, who readily admits that he used to be one of those slimy guys. You'd never know it now. He'll never call you a dabbler for choosing not to sign up for something.)

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    3. Thanks for sharing this interesting feedback, Camille! It truly is something I also reflect on a lot as well. I think it's a huge blind spot for so many of us, both as consumers and creators, because there are so many layers to it. I can only hope to do better and offer a wider lens for us to see more of the truth. Thanks for being here for it.

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