A story about making meaning in the middle.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about email newsletters. About blogging. About social media. About using the expansiveness of the internet as a place to exercise your voice. I believe it’s important to feel entitled to speak up about what you believe. To ask for attention with good intentions. To be unashamed to make noise about stuff that matters to you. But it’s so hard to find the right volume, the authentic language, and the balance between humbleness and bravado — all of which are essential if you want to make an impact instead of simply spewing air. … I shared an essay on Medium last week about Instagram’s upcoming updates. Supposedly, some soon-to-be-implemented algorithm will contort our feeds out of chronological sequence, so they are instead, according to Instagram, “ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.” We, of course, is the marketing team behind a massive media machine that could not possibly have all of our individual interests — our true and complicated and capricious individual interests — at heart. (Its heart is only a bubbly red cartoon, after all.) This announcement had the photo-sharing community up in (Emoji) arms for a searing cyber-second. Anyone who uses Instagram in a self-promotional way — artists, entrepreneurs, larger enterprises — got pissed. #Notifications became a trending hashtag, inundated with text graphics that pleaded with followers to activate notifications in order not to miss future posts. Though I, too, grumbled at the news, something about the widespread panic didn’t feel right somehow. And when I stumble on a trend that doesn’t feel right somehow, like a tiny, uncomfortable knot, I try to untangle it, unraveling all of the easy, surface-level explanations to get to the truth at the center. And the truth at the center of this particular craze is: we’re scared. We’re all so scared of falling to the bottom of the heap. Of not being heard — of having to shout even louder to attract ears and eyes. Of not owning the platforms we feel forced to stand upon in order to share what we have to say, and thus never knowing when these platforms might be pulled out from underneath our feet. … Seth Godin’s Friday blogpost was a “rant” (his term, not mine) about Gmail’s increasingly invasive filtering policy. Google shoves so many emails straight into our spam folders without asking us…
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