Recently, I read a post by Alexandra Samuel that appeared on the Harvard Business Review’s website. While the subject line started off, “10 Reasons…”, something I doubt she ever starts an “IRL” (in real life) conversation with, the rest of the subject line has stuck with me since first reading it: …”Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life.”
“It’s time to start living in 21st century reality: a reality that is both on- and offline. Acknowledge online life as real, and the Internet’s transformative potential opens up.”
When presenting to groups on the topic of how web content is different from content one creates for other media, I try to stress the importance of thinking of the web as a place, not merely as a media “platform” or “channel.” While many of my generational peers (people old enough to have children in college and their early 20s) think the divide between themselves and their children’s generation is a “technology” thing, I argue it’s a difference in the perception of what technology enables, rather than some difference in an innate (and imaginary) comprehension of technology that people of a certain generation seem “born with.”
When you stop thinking of the web as merely a medium and think of it also as a place, you’ll better understand what’s taking place.
You need to realize that a blog and Twitter and Flickr and YouTube can be more than mere publishing platforms, they can become platforms for personal expression and observation and eye-witness and opinion and conversation. While the web provides the potential for professional and gifted creators to create in new ways and for new audiences, it also provides all of us with the potential to be just who we are to whomever we want to be.
When you finally come to realize that what you’re capable of doing on the web transcends writing or blogging or tweeting, but has the potential of being who you are, you’ll get it — or, more accurately, you’ll get what it is for you.
And yes, I made it all the way to the bottom of this post without once using the word existentialism.