More mirrors, less windows

One of the played-out myths of our generation is that in order to be accepted, earn a meaningful living or experience authentic connection, you have to live as an open book on the Internet.

But truth be told: Most people don’t care about 98% of what you’re sharing (and I’m being generous in that estimate). They’re just too bored or unfulfilled with their own lives and would rather distract themselves with yours. (Or they’re afraid of what would happen if they unfollowed you.)

As a society, we embrace people who “call it like they see it,” offer us unrestricted access to their lifestyle choices and promote their work product for our effortless consumption.

In the process though, we’ve sent this message: As long as you’re sharing something, then you’re adding value to the conversation.

That message serves only one side of the coin. And that’s the ad businesses that masquerade as social media platforms. They don’t care what you share as long as you’re sharing it on their app. Because that means they can track your behavior and tweak their algorithms to profit from your usage.

But let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment. This open-book, live-in-public, real-time-sharing culture has eroded our collective creative expression. If anything goes, then why bother thinking about whether or not what you’re sharing generates a worthwhile experience for the recipient?

Well, for one reason, how we live and work online deserves more scrutiny because it has legit implications for how one can thrive in our new economy.

The market ultimately values extraordinary work from humans that can’t be automated or replicated by technology. Anyone who commands autonomy over their lives bought it with the "Human Currency" they earned from applying the intense focus, creativity and craft required to produce this kind of valuable output.

Work that meets this standard can be (and should be) created and with deliberation and empathy for how best it can serve an audience (and shared via channels that you own like a website or email list, not exclusively on social networks, which are nothing more than rented online spaces).

Ultimately, I encourage people to share more “mirrors,” content that reflects their community’s desires, motivations and interests — instead of “windows” that do nothing more than satisfy our voyeuristic proclivities (and line the pockets of social media investors and shareholders).

Then perhaps more people would realize that living in public isn’t a prerequisite to personal fulfilment.