There’s certainly something to be said for privacy. I don’t want to preach boundless disclosure and ignore the merits of selective sharing and protecting oneself and others, if that’s what you’re into. But there’s something about extending a thought, an experience, a conviction, that invokes a sigh of relief. Not only is it comforting to engender an idea into collective and undeniable reality, it is curiously empowering.
The Internet is wonderful this way. I am not engaging in the tired debate that people over 40 seem obliged to contribute to (without actual desire, I’m pretty sure) over the dis/advantages of technology; I’m simply feeling lucky to exist in a time of such deep and accessible connection. The shield of a mesmerizing screen emboldens us, softens us, challenges us, reassures us, teaches us, captures us… it’s pretty cool that we can let the whole world into our rooms in an instant, unless you have slow WiFi, in which case the frustration is sometimes unbearable and soooo not worth it.
Willingly divulging intimate experiences and struggles (actually, promoting them… oh geez) on a globally accessible (and decidedly permanent) platform doesn’t even feel weird to me. Exposing my vulnerability and exploring the extents of my own story via writing releases a burden. Sharing makes it real; it’s solid and raw and secures a cord between myself and the larger whole. Like, here guys, here’s my contribution. I’m weaving myself in and even if I’m alone here’s proof that I’m still here, that I still care and trust and want to keep on building.
And that’s why I love my generation, even if we’re selfish and lazy and entitled and living in a virtual reality. Because we’re building a community.
When I say my generation, I don’t actually mean all the other humans born within ten years of myself. I mean anyone who’s willing to jump in, compassionately and passionately and openly. I’m not into exclusion, and we could all use some empowerment. When I read a genuine and astute article/blog/post/etc. online, (which I’ve encountered quite a few of lately, but the Internet’s kinda gigantic so there’s literally an infinite amount, yay Internet!) I undergo a distinct and tangible upwelling of pride and zeal and inspiration and belongingness that emerges in my belly, swirls around for a bit, then shoots up my intestines into my chest (that’s how anatomy works, right?) and spreads tingly fire out my extremities. I see flashing neon signs saying “THESE PEOPLE THINK LIKE YOU” and “THERE’S SO MUCH HOPE AND SO MUCH YOU CAN DO” and “HUMANITY IS MAGNIFICENT” and “FUCK YEAH YOU ARE A GODDESS” and the like. (Way better than “vacancy” with one letter out… any motels hiring?)
In an era of vehement social movements, instant connection of thoughtful people with something to say or questions to ask is an invaluable tool. Whether it’s a forceful reality check to remind us that shaming others is never an effective means of empowerment or an honest exploration of a personal sojourn with universal implications, I can’t help but preen my feathers like a proud, sub-five-foot human Mama Bird because I am part of it. I get to be inspired by this tremendous and spectacularly authentic web that is so, so much greater than the sum of its parts, because each thread is an uncensored outpouring careening down the mountainside.
I don’t care if it’s a journalist for Time who gets published every other week or a lonely teenager who’s never passed an English class. I’ve gotten teary-eyed from a painfully mainstream YouTube ad and frequently get fired up about questionably politically correct articles on websites like Everyday Feminism. I find words for conditions that have been tugging at the edge of my consciousness without ever quite realizing their validation, like how eating disorder recovery often perpetuates fatphobia. I don’t even mind if I’m part of a seriously trendy fad of obsessive Humans of New York scrollers, because it’s fucking awesome to see the absolute humanity in people you’ve never met but find solace in knowing they exist.
What I’m trying to say is this togetherness, this connection and simultaneous existence, this unabashed exposure to anyone who cares to waste some time on a screen is collective compassionate empowerment if I’ve ever seen it. (But only after I say that ten times fast). My citizenship in this community is an underrated and continuous gift that I can’t ever lose.
The best part? You’re a member too.