Is the Internet, created largely by techie guys, turning into more of a girl thing? Leon Benjamin thinks so. Here’s what he has to say:
In general, my experience of participating in online communities in the past few years is that despite their male dominance the posture, attitude and expression of these communities are predominantly female. By this I mean people are genuinely welcoming, offer unsolicited benevolence, guidance and assistance and freely give the most valuable thing that anyone can give; their time. This isn’t normal for other types of male dominated organisations.
To this day, I have no idea what particular combination of software, ethos and policies these networks have implemented, that attracts people to exhibit these female qualities online, but it’s basically changing people’s behaviour, and that behaviour is female in nature.
Both men and women participate in online communities. I don’t know if I agree males dominate these communities. Men and especially women enjoy the human connection these communities provide. This may be more of a right brain/left brain issue than a male/female issue – that’s what my fellow marketing to women expert Michele Miller thinks.
I would actually venture to say that rather than the Internet being “female,” it actually exhibits traits of the right brain. Recognition of patterns, tapping into emotional experience, the bonding factor… these are characteristics of both genders, which is why it works so well. It’s just that left-brain dominant humans (men) tend to think in terms of hierarchical structure, while right-brain dominant humans (women) think in patterns and “webs.” Men do this too, just not as quickly in everyday life (given that women have four times as many connections between hemispheres of the brain). But with the Internet, the right brain dominates. Men may think it’s “female,” when in fact it’s tapping into their right brain as well.
The Internet isn’t the only place enjoying success with right brain communication style. Look at some of the most successful brands out there. One of the most important things they do is create communities. Think Jimmy Buffet’s Parrotheads or The Harley Davidson Owner group or HOG. It’s about tapping into the right brain. It’s about connecting with other people. It’s about building a community with members who are, to borrow Leon’s words:
…genuinely welcoming, offer unsolicited benevolence, guidance and assistance and freely give the most valuable thing that anyone can give; their time.
Maybe being “girly” isn’t such a bad thing? Instead of ruffles and frills, think right-brain communication style whether you’re building a community, a website, or a brand.