“A rising tide lifts all ships.”
I have heard this phrase hundreds of times since I have become involved in the audio drama community. It is repeated as we celebrate successes, as we strategize, as we mentor others. But what does it mean and why is the idea behind it so important to so many audio drama creators?
The core idea of this phrase is that as one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Every success raises up everyone around us. If one show gains wider acclaim, everyone celebrates. We celebrate because we are happy for their success, but also because their success means our success.
A lot of this attitude comes from the fact that audio dramas are generally unknown to most people. Raising our profile so people know that audio dramas are a thing is good for all of us. But it’s also more than that. The attitude of support and compassion is deeply ingrained in the way the community interacts. It’s evident in the stories we tell as well. Stories of friendship and compassion, often with a villain that is some sort of agent of Capitalism, are abundant. Many audio drama creators are queer, people of color, poor, mentally ill, or marginalized in some way. This is the medium that they are able to connect with, to express themselves, because of the low barrier of entry. Most of us have experienced hardship and that has made us compassionate in our art and the way we approach community.
People help each other in the audio drama community more than they need to. If you’re a new creator, you don’t have to look far for a pile of advice and willing mentors; and they don’t just offer meaningless fluff encouragement. They will take time out of their day to give you real advice and make sure that you have all the available resources. Providing resources to new creators is a top priority for many wonderful people. But the culture of compassion goes beyond that. Other creators offer assistance with scripts and editing and casting, but they also help with recipies, job hunting, money problems and bad mental health days. The compassion of this community is boundless. I have personally been moved to tears when I’ve reached out to the community in my times of need and received so much help in return. And I have seen it repeated over and over again and participated when I was able. When someone needs help, we have a lot of love to give.
There are hiccups and issues to be aware of. We can be too quick to judge perceived threats to the community, and we have blind spots like any other group. But we try, we listen, and most importantly we support and amplify.
Some people might call us naive and say that if you want to do well you have to view other shows as competition. But I reject that. Even if that is true, which I am skeptical of, I do not believe it has to be that way. That attitude is the attitude of the capitalist hellscape that so many of us struggle against. We reject that. We can succeed while helping each other.
The audio drama community is here to challenge the straight cis white male narrative of success and we are going to do it with passion, kindness and damn good stories.