The Users of Platforms Change Them Through Their Interactions
Only together can we redefine editorial signal in a world of noise
Whether you’re a writer, a reader, or both, the chances are you believe good writing can change the world, one person at a time.
The internet is the thinky rabbit hole of choice for curious minds eager to learn about things they never knew they might be interested about. It’s a living library documenting our shared humanness at the tickle of a touch screen, a modern day agora where we come together for dialogue and debate.
Where else can you have a mutually respectful conversation with someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum? As a French-American, I’m a lifelong socialist (in the European sense of the term) but I’ve had many an enlightening exchange with Republicans online. And the conversations are ongoing.
Offline, I didn’t believe such a thing was even possible because all my efforts had failed.
The current political situation in the US demands we all pay attention and start fixing things. But as long as we refuse to listen to one another and remain in our respective echo chambers, progress is unlikely to happen.
The internet has given everyone a megaphone.
Whether you choose to use it or not is up to you but it’s available if you want it.
With minimal effort, it is easy to share thoughts and ideas through social media platforms. They even allow us to monetize our online presence. This is nothing short of groundbreaking — people from all walks of life can have a say, gain visibility, and be compensated.
But greed has been eating away at the heart of the internet for a while now, with disastrous results for editorial quality and public discourse. If clickbait and SEO work, they’ve also enabled the proliferation of echo chambers mesmerized by the lure of easy money.
Sometimes, those echo chambers are so large they prop up entire media conglomerates, such as Breitbart, now regarded by some as one of the top news websites in America.
Confirmation bias pays and has been powering most of the media industry since its inception. The internet changed this with the advent of blogging, doing away with gatekeepers and putting media power in the hands of the people.
What is the internet but a tool we can use to think out loud together?
Alas, profiteering has hijacked it with countless pieces fanning the flames of outrage and avarice. Pitching people against one another, or pointing the finger at one gender, may be a shortcut to clicks and bucks but who actually foots the bill?
It’s easy to get readers riled up and emotional. But it is much harder to engage them on an intellectual level, especially when they are wont to disagree with you, push back, and ask questions.
Look, I get it, we all need to make ends meet.
As someone whose livelihood comes from words, I’m no exception.
I turned to writing online to pull myself out of illness and hardship, rebuilding a life word by word after depression grounded me for five years.
Writing online creates community. After years of isolation, the internet changed everything for me.
I’m still as hopeful and excited today about the potential of the internet as I was when I first got online in the 90s, I still believe in a better world. Being part of a global adventure with as many people as possible thrills me. With better translation software and humans learning more languages, the world is getting smaller. More understanding, less divided, but still we fight between ourselves, worship at the altar of the lowest common denominator, and seek celebrity by all means necessary.
So can the internet still empower us to create a more tolerant society that fosters curiosity, solidarity, and compassion?
Most importantly, do we still want to find out? If so, why not join forces and see where it takes us?
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.