What Is the Line and How to Cross It

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Over and over, you see it happen online. But, to be specific about what it is and where it stands is the conundrum. It’s that invisible line that people on message boards and blog comment strings seem to gingerly step just along side and rarely cross over. Especially in creative and design related discussions about business practices, you see people skillfully balance upon the edge while a crowd forms below to taunt the potential jumper with questions and comments like:

“Name the studio that didn’t pay!”
“What’s a fair day rate for Anytown, USA?”
“Did you just regurgitate back the agency boards?”
“Did you compensate the originator of the technique or just rip it?”

The crowd chants, but instead of the individual pushing away and into the ether with full disclosure, they turn back unable to take the leap into honesty and transparency.

It’s a funny contradiction. So often, people call out for fairness and respect on behalf of the artists and creators of content when situations arise where they’ve been dealt with unethically, unprofessionally, or even illegally. They act as if to be a modern day Norma Rae. But, as soon as names are cited, requested, or specifics to an issue are exposed that allows the anonymous audience to fully understand all parties involved in a particular case of claimed wrong doing, a foul is called and the brave individual is chided and derided for telling the truth bravely. The same truth that prior consensus had established was far too rare and should be sought out and championed for the good of the group. They speak strongly, but won’t shut off the loom and stand up on the table.

It’s a strange balance of open sharing and honesty against concealment and hypocrisy. One day, a call will sound for artists to band together against spec projects and contests in an effort to try to regain a perceived loss of value for our work… The next? A spec project is championed without a word of criticism. Similarly, hopes for better work relationships between contractor and the contracted are discussed, but mentioned specifics like what facilities or which individuals to avoid are frowned upon when it’s these very details that hold importance.

Everybody wants to race up to the line and shout out with full lungs. Yet, when only inches away, we cower and sulk while watering down our concerns and reduce their importance and value to the anonymous audience we are speaking with.

What is this line? Is there a name or a way to address it? Or is it as simple as calling it fear or lack of courage? With all this anonymity, you’d think the free exchange of ideas and information would be hard to hold back. But, instead it remains impotent. There, but ineffectual.

Amazing how much tiptoeing we all do, when in reality the amount of real help and valuable information we could all share is enormous if only we could get over ourselves and remove these imagined bonds. This could go on and on, but as we’re not too particularly fond of rants ourselves… we’ll leave it at that since this probably doesn’t make much sense anyways.