Identity and the Internet
Sometimes I wonder if I would be as creative or motivated if it weren’t for social media. Kind of like if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods-and-no-one-hears-it-does-it-make-a-sound kind of thing. Do I worry too much about sharing and not live in the moment enough?
Those of you my age and older are some of the lucky few in the history and future of the world that have had the opportunity to live life before the internet, while also getting to watch society progress with the advancements of the world wide web. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.
Feeling like I now have some responsibility to share my knowledge with the future generations I wrote this letter to my children (and their generation). I’m sure by the time they read this a lot of the latest websites and apps will be obsolete, but the core message remains the same. Here it is.
Dear Post-Millennial Children,
I was born way back in 1982. It was a bad year for hair and makeup (in my opinion) but it was a good year to be born and I’ll tell you why. I am one of the last ones to remember a childhood without Wi-Fi or high school without social media. No, this is not another lecture about how when I was your age I was content just looking out the window on car rides. This is a different message. This is a lesson about your identity.
I struggle with this even now. Sometimes I wonder if I really enjoy writing or if I just want people to read my blog. But then I have the luxury of knowing that before I was blogging I was writing. I’ve always had a passion for writing, even before it ever hit cyberspace.
Other times I wonder if I would be inspired to throw fun theme parties if not for Pinterest. Then I remember that I’ve always loved to throw parties. From the birthday party I planned for my dog as a child, to the fun bachelorette parties I planned for friends. All of that was before the age of Pinterest. Same goes with my photography, my friendships, my “outfit of the day” and everything else. When my identity feels lost on the Internet I can at least reach back and remember that I have been the same person I am today with or without the online exposure. I won’t let the internet take credit for my interests nor will I allow it to steal my joy.
Your experience will be different than mine, but I want you to know that the screen does not define you.
Just be yourself no matter what. I don’t care how many likes you get on Instagram or how many shares on Tumblr (Is that a thing? Did I spell it right?) I don’t care if your embarrassing YouTube video goes viral or your cool video tanks. Your identity is not found on the Internet. Social media can trample your ego just as fast as it inflates it; you have to be grounded in the truth on and off-line.
The truth is that you have been blessed with talent. You have your own unique style. Above all, you are valued.
Believe in yourself and be yourself because “the Internet” doesn’t know you like real life people do.
When Social media becomes a sad depressing place feel free to step away from it all and unplug for a bit. There was life before the iPhone believe it or not.
I know you may think that I’m out of touch with what’s trending, and that’s probably true, but I also know what it’s like to feel lost in the vastness of all the messages that you absorb online. Those trends are going to come and go, but always remember you are a fearfully and wonderfully made individual and your voice matters.
Trust me. I should know, because I’ve been around longer than the Internet.