Just be yourself

The internet is a weird place. On it, truly world famous human beings can speak their minds to millions of followers, and nobodies like myself can use the exact same services and methods to say whatever we like, albeit to much lesser effect. I’m never going to reach a fraction of the people that even a big fish in a small pond like many of the popular tech bloggers and podcasters will, and yet here I am, holding up my written and recorded words, dangling them in front of you as though they’re immeasurably desirable and worthy of your time.

What are we to make of people like me who put stuff out there as though they have every right to, even if no one has ever heard of them, and no one probably ever will? Is it ego? Or is it actually the opposite?

Frankly, I don’t know what motivates a lot of people to babble into the intarwebs the way I do. I do suspect for some of them, it is ego, and I do honestly believe for many others I could name that it’s just the enjoyment of creating content and sharing specific interests with other like-minded human beings. For those in the latter camp, I say excellent, and please keep it up. It’s a great counterpoint to cynicism and jadedness. Snark may be popular, but in the end, being snarky 100% of the time is really just being a tired, worn out jerk in a quick-witted wrapper. It creates more weariness rather than inspiring anyone to do something of their own.

In my own case, I can tell you something about getting older. Unless you’re massively successful on a scale most people can only dream of, or you’re just a narcissistic jackass, aging eventually inevitably brings humility and reflection about your own motivations, actions, and influence on others.1 There’s a burden of knowing that you’ve affected other people negatively by your actions and attitudes many times in your life when it would have been just as easy and so much better to do good instead that pretty much erases any illusions about your own greatness. That’s been me a lot of times. I hope I’ve had some positive effect on people in my life as well, but I know for sure that I’ve brought people down way more often than I should have or really want to think about. So it’s not about feeling like I have anything special to offer, or that I especially deserve to be heard.

I’m not really a golly-gee-whiz kind of person. I tend towards pessimism and sometimes depression. But the fact is, even with all the stuff going wrong, we live in a pretty amazing world that is also home to some pretty amazing people. There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot to share. There’s a lot to do and talk about. And it’s never been easier to share that stuff than it is now. People keep saying blogs are dead, but they’re not dead at all. They’re only dead to people who have checked out and are just into the latest thing that demands no more than two minutes of their attention. There are still tons of people writing really great things on every topic. There are still a lot of great podcasters doing all variety and formats of shows that are creating superb content. There is no one right way. There are lots of great ways.

I don’t think there has ever been a better time to have an interest and try to find someone talking about that very thing online than right now. I think that’s what makes it ok for people to do their thing and put their words out there and have it not be about ego at all. It’s about the fact that we can. And we want to. So we do.

In the words of Craig Calcaterra:

Be yourself. Like what you like. Do what you want to do if it’s fun and creative and isn’t negative. And let other people do the same thing.

  1. In my case, probably way too late to do any good.