I feel so lucky that I didn’t grow up with the internet and so lucky that I was a young adult when the internet become a full time thing.
Let me explain…
A comedy fan came up to me very early in my career as a stand up comedian. He said, “I’m putting up a comedian website of all my favorite comics. Can I add you to the site?” I said – sure – because at the time websites weren’t much more than virtual headshots and online business cards.
I hadn’t even put up my own website, yet, but I was smart enough to purchase my domain name. (Thank god.)
The picture that I gave that comedy fan was of me when I was about 21 years of age in doc martens, sitting cross legged, on my friend’s hardwood floor while he took the shot. It was very me…AT THE TIME. But, very quickly after that point in time it would feel much more like an awkward family photo.
Fast forward to 10 years later and that 21 year old picture of me was still on the internet. Not to mention it was the first search term that came up in a google search when you typed in my name. Next after that was my web page. The comedy fan had since moved away and I had no way of contacting him to get that awkward family photo down. I had no way of controlling my own image.
Eventually I was able to find the guy through a series of lucky accidents. I spoke to him about the 10 year old photo and fortunately he understood my plight and took it down.
So, why am I bringing all of this up?
Because that was how I learned my first internet lesson. Always control your own stuff or online at least control it to the best of your ability. If you don’t control the site, don’t submit the image or video, unless you don’t care about that image or video appearing everywhere.
I think about kids growing up with the internet. Maybe they’re not secure in themselves, maybe they are testing things out like relationships – both friendships and lovers – and they are sending images of themselves out willy nilly. Maybe getting catfished or cyberbullied is what happens as a result. It ain’t pretty. Sure, there are the stories of the kids that make a gazillion dollars at age 17 our of their bedrooms, but then there’s also Stuebenville. It’s one thing to have a horrible, horrible, rape-like experience. It’s another to also have that experience plastered all over the internet. We don’t even need to talk about things as severe as rape. When you’re young, you are going to experiment with things in your career. You’re going to write things that are crap, film things that are shit and if you don’t control where they are published, those shit samples may haunt you forever. You know, like little shit ghosts following you wherever you go.
This is why I’m glad I didn’t grow up with the internet.
I think it’s important to have an adolescence that allows you to make mistakes that then dissipate into the atmosphere as if they never happened.
Now, I hate that I did NOT grow up with the internet because of…
When you’re a kid, you often have a lot of it. Time to make things, experiment, master things. I mean look at Vine or Youtube. If you have 8 hours a day to devote to it, you can be king or at least this guy if you don’t mind living life as a shirtless, micro-video star with fans who consider you to be a living reincarnation of Teen Beat magazine.
I feel like I’ve watched the internet grow because I was and am – thankfully – old enough to somewhat understand its evolution from its early beginnings. Though I can’t say I’ve always been great at predicting where it is going.
That’s what this blog will be all about — deep thoughts, hopefully, that help me to assess where I think things are going, along with the lessons I’ve learned, and the experiments I’m trying.
In a way, here, my goal is similar to how I felt about the cult hit show, My So Called Life. I thought it was so good that I couldn’t understand why other people weren’t devouring it as much as I was. But, then again, maybe I didn’t want them to. Maybe I just wanted to watch the show with the other, like-minded people who were interested in it as much as I was. That’s how I feel about most things now. Everyone doesn’t have to like everything I do, but for the lot of you that do I hope this web joint becomes one place that you’ll visit again and again.
Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your so-called-digital-history in the comments section. I’d love to know how it has evolved for you or if it’s the only thing you’ve ever known. Both experiences are interesting to me.
Oh and, you can join me by hitting that follow button. You never know, we both may learn something.