I was disgusted.
She was the 11th person to pass by trying to peddle the same exact selection of sunglasses that ten other people had peddled just seconds before.
“Senorita?” she said, tapping me on the shoulder from behind my table once more. I ignored her once more. She circled around me in case I wasn't hearing her. I forced myself to calmly keep eating my filet, eyes fixed straightforward, as if she were invisible. She tried once again to get my attention, holding up her cardboard display full of 30, 40, 50 pairs of sunglasses, before turning away defeated.
As she walked away, I put down my fork and muttered, “What the fuck.”
Not about her. About me. –
How could I do that to another human being?
How could I be so dismissive, so apathetic, so cruel? I've always fiercely gone out of my way to demonstrate that no matter who you are — the man in the wheelchair with no legs, the tattered woman on the sidewalk, the woman from Granada, Nicaragua nervously begging you to buy her sunglasses — everyone deserves to be acknowledged. To be looked in the eye. To be smiled at. To feel like, even for a moment, that they matter, too. And anything less is inhumane.
But in that moment, the only thing that mattered was my selfish impatience. My annoyance that it was Valentine's Day and here I was in Granada trying to enjoy a gorgeous outdoor patio lunch, and these sunglass hawkers were ruining it. Couldn't they see I already had sunglasses? Couldn't they see their 50 other competitors were just here selling the same thing? Couldn't they see how foolish it was to sell the same exact thing as those other 50 people in the same exact way? Couldn't they see they were ruining a special occasion? Couldn't they see that bugging people when they don't want to be bugged is the worst time to pitch a sale? COULDN'T THEY SEE THIS WAS A TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE IDEA? –
And that's when I realized the same thing happens online.
The sunglass hawking scenario isn't that different from what a lot of what's being done today online. The 50 life coaches all saying the exact same things, trying to hawk their services in the exact same way, to the exact same people. The countless number of photographers guilty of saying things like, “Memories last a lifetime,” and “Capture the moment.” The gurus pressuring you to buy their thousand dollar “system.” And every other well-meaning person who's peeing in one big morbid sea of sameness.
I've made it my mission to help business owners shun the sea of sameness through my work, my writing, and by example.
Because nobody ever made any money by being the same, and they certainly never got any awards.
The only thing they got?