On being a curmudgeon

Written by Mitch Joel

When has a curmudgeon ever really done well in Marketing?

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and especially Blogs have a very magical way of bringing those who are a curmudgeon right out into the open. The definition of a curmudgeon is someone who is “bad-tempered, difficult and a cantankerous person.” It’s not someone who has the occasional “this sucks!” post, and it’s not someone who creates content in a passive-aggressive fashion. The amazing thing about those who are curmudgeons is that they rarely know that they behave in this manner, and they often spend the bulk-load of their offline time sulking about the online conversations that are bringing them down.

Be serious. But don’t be too serious.

I love everything I do – both personally and professionally. I do my best to put forward both a positive and happy attitude. Is life perfect? No. Am I fully content with my lot in life? Hardly. But, I don’t kid myself either. I fall into a very small minority of the population that actually loves what they do each and every day (and, like you, I have my off days as well). I also don’t kid myself into thinking that what I do for a living is as important as a school teacher, doctor or someone trying to make a difference in the developing world. I help brands make better connections with their consumers through the many online channels. Nothing more. Nothing less. It pains me to see the online conversation when people are truly aggressive and angry about issues that are really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Love what you do. Be passionate about what you do.

How often do you read, see and hear from a Marketing professional who is – without question – a total curmudgeon? Everything sucks. Nobody is saying anything new. Clients are stupid. Agencies don’t get it. There isn’t an original thought in the world. All new creative is simply a copy of something that has already been done before? So-and-so is a moron. If people don’t see my point of view, they are clearly the ones without a  clue. And on and on and on. Do you ever wonder why Marketing attracts so many characters like this?

We’re not moving the conversation forward.

If all we ever do is critique, bash and act in a curmudgeonly fashion, we’re not only going to have a hard time pushing the conversation forward, we’re going to be even more challenged to get the brands into these channels, platforms and new media. Nobody wants to join anything that has people mumbling and grumbling the whole way through.

Rise above.

If someone wants to be a curmudgeon… let them. This is one of those moments in time when we – as a community – give them consent to bother us by feeding their temper and attitudes. Things are good in Marketing and they are getting better. New media, new platforms, new channels, real human connections and individuals connecting up to brands because they care (even if they’re saying something negative). Traditional mass media is finding its pace in the digital world and there seems to be room for everybody (while still having room for more disruption).

The real question is this: how do we remove the curmudgeons and get on with the business of doing great work?

(This post originally appeared on Six Pixels of Separation here.)

Mitch Joel is President of Twist Image — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. In 2008, Mitch was named Canada’s Most Influential Male in Social Media, one of the top 100 online marketers in the world, and was awarded the highly-prestigious Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation (published by Grand Central Publishing – Hachette Book Group), named after his successful Blog and Podcast is a business and marketing best-seller. You can find him here:

Originally appeared on