Would you rather be Scarlet O'Hara, or Melanie Wilkes?

Gone with the Wind was one of my favorite movies growing up.  I liked the movie so much, I actually waded through all of Margaret Mitchell’s novel as well (and the sequel by Alexandra Ripley, which in my opinion, was better than most people gave it credit for.)

A thought struck me out of the blue recently.  When it came right down to it, the most powerful character in the novel wasn’t headstrong, stubborn Scarlett O’Hara.

It was “mealymouthed” Melanie Wilkes.

I found myself remembering the scene at the dance in Atlanta, when all the society matrons were angsting about whether or not it was acceptable to “sell” dances to raise money.  When one of the Old Guard ladies announced “If Melanie Wilkes says it’s alright, then it’s alright,” it was a sign that they all accepted Melanie’s judgment as the final authority.

Scarlett was very good at attracting attention.  But Melanie had influence.

In blogging and social media, it can be very tempting to pursue attention.  And attention is not in itself a bad thing–in fact, a certain amount of attention, particularly from the right people, is necessary to obtain influence.

But attracting attention by creating artificial drama, stirring up unnecessary controversy, and throwing needless personal jibes at colleagues and competitors is a pretty short-sighted strategy. It’s certainly a lot faster and easier than creating genuinely original, thought-provoking, authoritative content.

Of course, some times in the middle of honestly trying to earn influence with outstanding content, you inadvertently fall into a hornet’s nest, and the unwelcome spotlight of attention that comes with it.  When that happens, you generally fall only as far as your previous credibility will let you.

In other words, only Melanie Wilkes can meet with Belle Watling in the middle of the public street without fear for her reputation.  People may complain about the “teflon reputations” of others, but the fact is, in this day and age, (and most definitely in the field of online marketing, which sadly has a somewhat sketchy reputation) you have to earn the benefit of the doubt by acting with impeccable integrity.

img courtesy familylife on sxc

8 Comments


  1. ·

    I enjoyed this blog entry about “Melanie or Scarlett?” I realized the true inspiration of Melanie Wilkes years ago after reading the book. Melanie’s example still resonates with me more than 20 years later. I particularly liked the way you brought it to the present with the example of today and online marketing since I am fairly new to online marketing and blogging (but loving it), and I also hold a day job.

    Carolyn Hazels last story..Daily Commute

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  2. Kat
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    Thanks, Carolyn! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. When I started in blogging and website-creation, I was holding down a “day job,” too. And now, it IS my “day job.”

    Good luck!

    Reply

  3. ·

    I enjoyed this blog entry about “Melanie or Scarlett?” I realized the true inspiration of Melanie Wilkes years ago after reading the book. Melanie's example still resonates with me more than 20 years later. I particularly liked the way you brought it to the present with the example of today and online marketing since I am fairly new to online marketing and blogging (but loving it), and I also hold a day job.

    <abbr>Carolyn Hazels last story..Daily Commute</abbr>

    Reply

  4. ·

    Excellent website youve got there. I never knew what comment luv did until i came across your site via yahoo so i will add it to my own website.

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  5. ·

    Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Stunning .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…Kwluv rocks and so does your blog

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  6. ·

    I found Would you rather be Scarlet O’Hara, or Melanie Wilkes? | Internet Bard on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later ..

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  7. ·

    Wicked post, I totally agree. How long have you been blogging for now, I really like the look of your site. Cheers, Sharice Araldi

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