This was one of my favorite tweets today:
Proposed: The great under-appreciated payoff from the Internet = Ability for introverts to participate fully in collaboration + culture.
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) September 2, 2014
I can’t emphasize this enough – I don’t know how I’ll be without the internet. I may not exist. Imagine growing up believing that you’re everything possibly wrong, only to realize there’s an entire world out there who are just as wrong. Then you start to question, what exactly is right?
I remember feeling butterflies in my stomach the day I first experienced the internet. I couldn’t feel a sense of community locally, but there it was on the internet. Tons of people trying out crazy shit in the brave new world.
It is the same sense of community that I try to reach out to when I publish posts like the one I did Sunday. I was thinking to myself that it is okay if not many people would read it, as long as those who need to will read it. This is what I tell myself every time I write posts like that. It doesn’t matter if nobody reads it. I have fulfilled my end of the bargain.
Unexpectedly it has become my most popular post on Medium in just three days, only exceeded by the power of your writing, but that post accumulated all that traffic after an entire year. I do think part of it is the network effect of Medium compounding, but based on the ratio of recommendations, I would say that people really resonated with the subject. More than I actually wish it to be.
I have been the receipient of many similar stories when I was going through my darkest times. Stories of survival, love and surmounting odds. I remember reading a story about a woman who was sexually abused by a relative, and not only did she rise above and thrive – she shared her story in public. Then I thought to myself, if she could share such a private story publicly, my stories are nothing to be private about.
I have a lot of feedback that people think I am brave, but the truth is, I no longer feel like it is an exceptional effort to share such details of my life. It was nail-biting at first, but I have been writing this way for six years now, the difference is my older blogs were never as widely read. But the traffic is not the point. The moment you publish something like this to the world, you become like an open book to the internet, widely read or not.
The impact of being my true authentic self everywhere is huge. I am who I am. Nobody expects me to be perfect or some shiny object. I don’t have to be afraid that one day people are going to discover my dark self. It is there on the internet for everyone’s consumption pleasure. In turn I get people sharing their selves and stories with me. I get to develop a real community, a community based on a common shared narrative. There are people out there who have been reading such long-winded writing of mine for six years (more for those who started reading on my livejournal and earlier). People are naturally drawn to truth.
For all the stories that lighted my way, I hope by telling my stories and living my life for everyone to see, I can be at least one example of a human being who is extremely broken and yet found a part of the world to belong to. Perhaps one day, there will be more people unafraid to share parts of themselves, and we will evolve to become a society less judgmental of ourselves and one another.
Because this is what I’ve learned. Everyone is fucked up in their own ways. We just cover it up really well. But if everyone realizes that everyone else is as fucked up, perhaps we can be a lot more compassionate to one another and stop standing on our moral high ground. Then, perhaps we’ll stop our senseless power struggles in pursuit of never-ending validation, because we’re all the same broken. Then perhaps, we can really start building this world for what it is. For connection.
I can have a dream. Thanks internet, for letting me find my same broken kind of people. I like them a lot. Where we break, is where the light gets in.