To be seen

A recent article outlines how NFL cheerleaders are paid less than minimum wage, disrespected and treated quite poorly. So why do they put up with this lousy behavior?

In many ways, the appeal is an extension of what we were taught in high school. To be seen, to be noticed, to be picked. Even more than that, it's part of the human condition: To be part of something, in a small way, to matter.

Despite the obvious inequity of working for free for billionaires to celebrate players paid millions on behalf of advertisers earning even more, despite the conditions and the insults, people keep trying out to be picked by the team. For now.

The shift that's happening due to the long-tail open nature of new media, though, is that it's easier than ever to pick yourself and to be seen (even if it's not on national TV). It's easier than ever to start your own dance troupe, to build a group that will travel to cheer enthusiastically, for hire. It's easier than ever for anyone to be seen in videos or heard in podcasts or read online.

The fascinating lesson about human nature is that people aren't always driven by a rational analysis of work as an exchange of labor for cash. We want to be seen and we seek to belong. It's a shame when an organization takes advantage of that and treats people unfairly.

When we offer people a chance to matter and to be seen, we have the chance to offer them something magical.