Herd mentality

My brain is caught in several loops, and it’s making me dull, even when I am innovating (which I am- wait until you see the cuff I am working on!)

It’s an odd feeling for me, being stuck. I have little control over the paths of my mind; I can’t seem to find the equivalent of shaking it like a tea towel and getting my thoughts back in line. So I’m just beading, keeping my head down, and trying to be small.

I’ve only gone out to the shows once, and that was to see the beads at Beyond Beadery. Their show is over now, most are. The town is emptying out again.

The astonishingly complete selection of Delicas at Beyond Beadery

One of the things that has me tied in a mental knot is the herd mentality of my peers. They form, just as they did in junior high school, into these cliques and power wads; the up side of this is that they support each other, which is essential, but the down side is that in herd, people tend to behave like they actually ARE in junior high, gossiping, excluding, bestowing, bitching, and ruining. They get cunty in groups, and that’s just a fact.

Even the shows take part in the infighting, the jockeying for position. The Whole Bead Show, having lost (through general craziness and overcharging) huge wads of artisans to the To Bead True Blue Show (which has now sucked up every clique in town and many of the artisans from the Best Bead Show too) is moving down from their River and Campbell location and taking up residence four blocks from the To Bead True Blue Show, and is offering tables at almost half-price. There is so much crazy backstory there just between those two shows that it makes me tired just thinking about it. Family feuds, bitter vendors, worried artists.

Things have gotten so bad financially that many artists who have struggled along for these few tough years have simply decided to step off the wheel- I know many people who just aren’t coming back for 2013. And the people who have migrated to the True Blue show will happily dump them too if need be; loyalty is a luxury at times like this, and people simply need the best price. No one is making bank.

It’s been bringing me down, not only the tough economic times (which seem to me so senseless; I will be annoyed for all eternity at the right wing dittoheads that egged Bush, Cheney and Wall Street on after we were humming along so nicely under the Big Dog) but the readiness of the people in my field to backbite, gossip, to dump friends, shows, and cheat their own better selves to try to get back into a situation that works for them. All they really want to do is to be able to earn a living; the bad behavior is just something that comes out in some people (not all people, thankfully) when times get tough.

Why is it so tense out there right now?

25 thoughts on “Herd mentality

  1. It is a crazy world. Anywhere people are struggling to survive, human nature comes out. The good, the bad and the ugly. I barely made my expenses after 6 days of show. You and the people you allowed to gather at your wonderful, creative household were the island of lovely. What made my time in Tucson absolutely worth while. The good, kind pure creative ones. The laughter healing. Many of the artists at the show were wonderful too.
    I am grateful to have been there and each evening refreshed and washed with joy! Thank you.

    • Oh, I agree, I have a wonderful time personally, and it isn’t about money. I think we all had a lovely time, despite not making much money. But the sense of fear, and banana-clutching, that I am seeing from the field in general is bringing me down a bit. I feel that there really is enough to go around, if people will start smallerizing and just STOP IT with the whole biggerizing thing.

  2. I am sorry about all this. My excitement comes from promoting people I think are awesome at what they do. I go out of my way to discover them, or to simply see that they have been here all along and tell other people.

    I never long to go to the bead shows, because I know i cannot. However, I find that searching online all by myself for new things is just as fun.

  3. I too experienced a kind of depression that washed over me at this years shows, enough that I don’t know that I will be coming next year. I am thankful that I have that choice. I would of course miss all the lovely people that I sometimes only get to see this once. It isn’t the joyous occasion it used to be and I don’t know when it will recover. In the meantime keep innovating, the results are spectacular.

    • I’d say it’s up to us (the people who really love the work and really love the field and really love the people) to keep focusing on the joy. I was sorry to hear so many people say that they aren’t coming back, or can’t afford to.

  4. I wondered why you weren’t “doing” the show; neither participating or going to check things out. It’s disheartening to hear that there are people behaving that way when they could and should be supporting one another. Even during the best of times there are those who won’t “make it”…how cruel of fellow artists/businesses to help them along!!

    • Oh, well, it’s always the case that some people aren’t helpful, and that people in groups form cliques, which become vehicles of support as well as exclusion.

  5. I’m such a beginner in all this…your post sort of scares me. I fear getting sucked up into something I wasn’t intending–all while just wanting to be a part of things. I don’t know whether to continue to struggle under near-total anonymity or to keep reaching out to something that in the end, I might find that I didn’t want at all.

  6. I think much of this has a lot to do with the way people react to change, and how flexible they allow themselves to be. The harsh, sad part is that some react with fear, as if change is an affront to their ego or their stable, “safe” idea of themselves and their surroundings. The redeeming part? People who have never been part of the herd are still shining brightly. The darkness that seems to surround them highlights them even more.

  7. I am completely in awe of those who figure out how to make a living through their jewelry. Jewelry is such a personal thing and there is so much of it out there, which of course makes it extremely difficult. With the recent addition of all the new dyed and faked stones and the web marketing facebook twittering craziness no wonder everyone is having a hard time figuring out their identity when so much is unauthentic and virtual. I truly believe that authentic great artists and their stuff eventually shines through all the crap.

  8. After selling for six days in Tucson, I am heading home to heal from the harshness, bitterness, backstabbing bitchiness I witnessed at this years’ shows. After 17 years selling down here, I have had enough and unless I can do my own thing and redeem my very soul; I will NOT be coming back.
    I do however, really appreciate all that you have written Kate, and all the comments left on your site. All these wonderful words make me feel hopeful.

  9. Yes.

    The Herd leads people to places they wouldn’t choose to go on their own. I suppose it’s the strength in numbers ideal that draws people in, and inevitably hurts when the rest of the numbers cut and run.

    I learned at a very young age that relying too heavily on other people for anything – friendship, support, kindness – will end in disappointment. It’s nice to have it while it’s there, but a constant stream of it isn’t something you can count on.

  10. I felt similar to what you were saying until I got to the show I was at this year. Upon walking into the show and setting up I was awed at the care and work the staff put into the show. I’m really a nobody in the bead world and I did well, much better than I expected my first year. I’m impressed enough to continue to support them and I believe that by backing a show I believe in, staying put and making and effort I’ll survive in an economy that’s horrible. It won’t be easy but bailing ship and blaming isn’t going make my sales increase. Hard work, creativity and loyalty will.

    • I think the shows work hard, and that most people are trying their very very best. But loyalty… it’s one of the things that has fallen by the wayside. I envy you your position of not knowing anyone, you know- you don’t have to feel the sadness at seeing the loss of loyalty.

      No one is loyal to their show anymore, not really.

      I have always been a very hard worker, and feel as you do- hard work, originality, creativity- those will carry us above the pack and to success. And that is still the case.

      What is getting me down is all of the bitching and backbiting, none of which you would likely have heard, in your first year slot. Do you know what I mean? I support you! Just be careful of who you expect to be loyal to you at this time.

  11. My thoughts on this whole issue are too complicated to really sum up in a blog comment — especially since I’m tired, and upset over other things on the internet.

    I do want to say that, as a typical self-centered human being, I thought I was alone in my sort of depression about and apathy towards the gem show this year. I thought it was just because I was in a generally burnt-out state going into it, and I was sad because my man is out of town for pretty much the entire show. I also thought that maybe after so many years of living in the middle of the shows, the magic was just gone for ME. But I guess it was something in the air this year, something that was going on around me and I was picking up on it.

    • I still believe in Tinkerbell- I think this is just a tough year for people.
      You and I are enthusiastic people who want to have a wonderful time and who want everyone else to do well and be happy too.

  12. Oh I heard plenty of bitching and backstabbing. Hard times bring out the best in positive people and cause negative people to get swallowed up in their toxic soup. The only thing I can control effectively is me, and by walking away from the toxic soup I keep myself true to me. You can swim in it or sail on past it. I did see a wonderful amount of loyalty at the show I was at, positive people want to stay a part of positive things.

    • Yes, that is very good. I agree with you regarding a positive attitude, and I’m pleased that you were not affected by all of the bitching. I’ve been hearing the complaining for so long that it’s starting to get to me. I want people to stop crying foul and either get out or get down to it. You are already small, so you are in a good position.

  13. For what it’s worth- my two cents… I have been a vender for 6 years and this year brought my daughter a new designer to Tucson and gave up my booth to shop with her for a week….

    and thru her eyes saw the bits of wonder that make up Tucson’s shows. Yes all of the issues are there but where can you go to see dinosaurs, African artifacts, beautiful jewelry, artisan beads, gemstones, venders from everywhere. There is hustle and marketplace griping and all the woes of cliques and groupies etc but there are also hawks flying, tons of hummingbirds, a navy blue sky, green chili enchiladas, sunstones and rubies and pearls and most of the designers you follow on line scattered at shows.You get hugs from old friends and groans and complaints about shows and venues but there is magic in the desert and maybe after all this recessionary crap is gone the desert will bloom again.
    I surely hope so. Joan Tucker

    • That is awesome, and I feel as you do.
      I adore Tucson and I adore the shows.

      But several hundred people that I know are not coming back next year.
      That is kind of sobering.
      And I can’t afford to have a booth for five days, standing around, selling just enough to make my booth fee.
      No one that I know made enough to really live on, unless they were selling very inexpensive things.
      That’s just a fact.
      Times are tough.

  14. Kate, I also will not be back to sell and that is sad and artists need to eat like everyone else but I still hope it all comes back with some vigor and spirit because Tucson Gem Event is not Bead and Button and not just another show. Maybe it’s the desert and sun which makes it magic or maybe since I hail from WA state it just makes me happy to see the big vista. JT

  15. So many of the vendors I spoke to weren’t blaming the show, but the economy. We want to keep coming, but it is so hard to just make expenses. There are bills to pay when we get home on top of the booth fees and expenses. So, until the economy gets better, we have to get creative and find other avenues of making a living. Even a mainstream job if necessary. It will be fine, really. Everything changes, everything is cyclical. I have experience living on very little, and can do it again.

  16. I remember when my show in Tucson was like family too and everyone cared and hugs and embraces and good wishes were shared by all. In small parts of the shows this year, that was still the case. It is difficult to rise above anything when the drums bang for 6 days and a set up. I came with lots of hope and good product but now, I am just exhausted and heartbroken. It is time to move on from the comfort of the same show I have loved, LOVED and supported for 17 years and that makes me sad.

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