What's it with the "I" in our writing and selfies that fascinates us so much? What's it that others perceive as an ego-centric social-media presence? Are we really in a time of narcissm or is it just our way of being ourselves in the internet adjusting our digital self to our analog self? How can we convince the rest that it's not about the "I" for us, but about the "We"?
The "I" refers to the underneath thing that is usually not at the outside and just goes out if we say so. It is, therefore, odd that our digital self continously appears with the wish for authenticity. May the digital self finally end up being more authentic than our analog self? I am not talking about the carefully curated facebook pics that shall give back some dream world feeling back to our schizophrenic reality. I am not talking about the automated business tweets saying thank you for every favourite and I am not talking about the Instagram liker that rush through their timeline without even looking at the pics.
I am talking about the people that care for their content, that weigh up their likes, try to give feedback to their crowd for better content. More like this please. I am talking about the people that are afraid of Twitter, but still go out there and shout out their souls, challenge their followers with provoking thoughts and send direct messages to people that they think are cool. We want honesty and authenticity, street credibiltity, unique reactions, specific thoughtful arguments.
We want to feel cared and special in this digital world.
We want to have many followers but know them all. So, how can we achieve that? Is it really by increasing our "I"?
Social engagement is the glue of social media. I can honestly tell you, there is no need to create content in the internet. There is so much out there. But there are not enough people that share and care. The social media community will adore you if you just share their stuff. Create a Twitter account now and call it: Yourfavouritetopic_Connect and share as much content until your thumb hurts and comment and discuss and people will love you for this. Actually sharing in this respect is content creation because your selection of featured content is unique as content should be.
But you are always invited to step up, to give everyone your theory about how everything or nothing connects. Yes, some have to go out there and write, dare to make mistakes, dare to fail.
Writing builds the theory of our social media life.
It's not videos, not photos, there is nothing more powerful than words, nothing comparable that can soak you up and make you feel unique and touched. Sometimes 500 words is enough. Sometimes it needs 1000 words, it depends on what you want say, what is it that bothered you or caught your eye while you were stearing at the shiny screen in front of you. For me, for this article, it was the word "I". I hate it.
It's frustrating reading the "I"-stuff such as I got a promotion because, I learned that I have got to accept that I have to focus more on my "I".
Or reading irrelevant things like if "I" knew this before, I would be better of right now. I did this and then I will do this. I will now show you the 5 Tips that will increase your "I" in your "I". Stop it...
"I" is the first letter of Internet.
"I" is everywhere. Now, is it being authentic writing about the "I"? The good thing about writing is that it helps to reflect your thinking. It keeps your mind straight and it helps you realize what is important for you. Writing has a proven therapeutic effect. It helps you relax and it may excite you if you hit a strong line of phrases. It may also disappoint if you feel that you are not able to express yourself as you want. But in the end, it makes you realize how you would express yourself if you could. If you use "I" from a stylistic perspective, you want to express that it's your opinion and feeling all alone. But is it?
The frustration for the reader that wants to pull out yourself and get behind the curtain of squared photos and, finally, dive into the rich and beating heart of words, is stopped by just reading your opinions and feelings. Where is the generalization, where is the attempt to make your theory count for others, where is the temptation to dare to stress yourself simplifying the reality.
It's no magic and you may make mistakes, but you write for purpose and for the intent to generalize and not for yourself. The narcissm in the Internet roots in the anti-scientific writing that is focused on individual hedonistic experience, no logic in the argumentation and the focus on oneself.
Who things that science for writing is bad? Oh please...
Science is the foundation of writing.
Express yourself as you want and what allows you to best communicate to your audience. Break yourself free from structure and grammer. But keep your texts clean, build your arguments thoughtful and dare to assume and hypothesize. Writing like this can be very artful and will directly increase the quality of your expressed thoughts. How can you do this?
Think of it like having a cup of tea. The aroma of the tea is carefully build, but the taste would be horrible without the sugar. Writing your carefully build science in a blog allows you to bring some sugar into your writing, take a topic that you personally care about, structure it and then sweet it up. It's best if you take a deep breath and just write. Don't think about it long. Have an idea, write it up and see where you are afterwards. The Aroma is great, but is it sweet enough? Build a theory, develop an angle, stay true with it from then on. Generalize, provoke and inspire with your text. Take care of your framing, build a story around a phenomena you are observing and close it up. And finally, use the "I" only for moments of doubts, feelings, emotions that you assume are only yours like I love my wife and my kids. "I" is a strong word. So use it wisely.
Where is the time going? I know, that it took for you some effort to get here. If you liked this text, subscribe to get my weekly blog posts about my life as an academic in social media. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn @MarcelHofeditz. Let's connect the "I" to become a "We".