You could say I love the Internet. Most of what I do has a lot to do with the Internet. A decent amount of what entertains, enriches, and energizes me comes from things that live and breathe and are created on the Internet.
For me – and many others – the Internet is a tool. It’s a glorious, wonderful tool that should be used wisely. There are things that can really benefit from wise use of the Internet, but there are also other things that are much better because they aren’t somehow entangled in the web (see what I did there?). In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that things that are analog, if you will, like hand-written letters and vinyl records, carry a more enticing value – all because the Internet has both enriched these things and created fatigue all at the same time.
Here’s a good point made by a cool guy named Victor and perhaps you could relate to it, too:
Now, the point I’m about to make isn’t actually about telling someone important things in real life vs. telling someone important things online. I think I’ve seen that argument in a lot of places – and probably complained about it myself – enough that I don’t need to reiterate much. Yes, it still happens; engagements, babies, weddings, etc. end up being announced online instead of using a good ol’ phone call to inform the fam about what’s going on. And unfortunately I’ve found out about deaths on the Internet, but that’s a whole ‘nother monster. This goes a step further.
Just because you haven’t told your friends and family about The Big Day or The New Arrival doesn’t mean it won’t be on the Internet.
And just because it’s on the Internet, that doesn’t mean it can replace actually telling the people you love – or who love you – about the big event in your life.
I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing – it’s laughable to hear that coming from me, as I’m only 27 years old and, by many assessments, I am part of the generation that is driving this whole Internet bus – but I think there’s a bit of a disconnect when it comes to the exact etiquette of how you communicate important information to loved ones and how the Internet plays a part in it.
Perhaps it’s a step up from the “don’t just spill the beans on the ‘net first” argument; perhaps there’s a complexity that many young people who have grown up with the Internet don’t seem to understand about (over)sharing. Or perhaps it’s that the Internet that simply magnifies the problem. Perhaps manners and consideration of others’ feelings just don’t take the same place they used to in society.
Or, well, maybe I sound a little jaded.
Should I be, though? As someone who is tasked with growing and maintaining an Internet presence for small businesses and startups, I have a more than a general idea of what’s appropriate to share online and why (or why not). This, to a degree, includes the ability exercise good judgement about the role online content plays within the whole spectrum of communications about a brand or identity. And it certainly includes issues of etiquette; in a businesses context, this line of thought would more closely apply to a question like, “What would happen if we promoted something something special to only certain people, but those people talked about it online?”
But back to the basic level of thought – to anyone unaware of what happens when you aren’t careful about who you tell and how – the Internet, as the wonderful tool it is, picks up on everything nowadays, and we let it happen. Many of us are conditioned to post photos and talk about what’s going on in our lives. Consequently, those you include in your life may also be putting that on the Internet.
I get the same thrill of opening a letter that I used to get with email 10+ years ago. It’s the same with how I feel about big announcements and how I find out about them; it’s much more exciting to get a phone call or a piece of well-crafted snail-mail than it is to read about it on Facebook or Twitter.
When I have a big announcement, it’ll be in my family’s ears before it’s on this blog. I hope it won’t be on Facebook or Twitter before I have the chance to pick up the phone and say, “Hey, [person I love], I have this great news to share with you…” I don’t want to water down the great feeling that I want them to have – that happiness I hope they’ll have for me – by letting them discover it in a lousy feed or stream. When it ends up on the Internet, they’ll already know.