Sharing online

Why we share online, awesome art, and building in public

Hey there. These are my weekly musings on life, career, and writing.

I wanted to take a moment to say: likes, replies, messages, and shares of this newsletter all mean the world to me. To the over 200 of you that read each week: thank you sincerely.

If after reading this, you think of someone that might like it, would you consider forwarding the issue? This is a labor of love so any help is greatly appreciated.


Thinking Loud

Why do we share anything online?

Is it because it’s fun? Is it out of vanity? Is it to make money?

I’ve had a few conversations over the last few weeks about the human tendency to share online. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve (largely) been off two social media platforms I had been spending way too much time on: Facebook and Instagram.

I’ve always had an estranged relationship with these platforms. On one hand, I really like styling photographs and dishing witty thoughts. This can be a lot of fun.

On the other hand, the platforms are entirely toxic. On Facebook, everyone thinks they are a COVID expert or a political mogul. On Instagram, everyone is trying to be an internet influencer or look well off for their peers from high-school.

For starters, most social platforms share one trait: They’re all incredibly vain.

And for the longest time, I felt like I didn’t have a great solution for this problem. I needed a way to fulfill my desire to share and be creative without getting inundated by the drama, feelings, and resentment. I really enjoy posting my interests and activities online.

It’s fun to find common ground with those around us. Whether naturally or through evolution, humans have an innate propensity to share. We want to share experiences, ideas, conversation, love, meals, etc.

In fact, Christoper McCandless argued that “happiness is only real when shared.”

I’ve been spending some time on a site called Futureland, which largely prompted my thinking around this. Futureland is a perfect example of a solution to resolve most of my gripe around social media. It’s engineered differently.

Instead of being driven largely by vanity (which I believe to be pretty unavoidable) the primary purpose seems to involve vulnerably sharing what you create each day. Individuals are sharing progress in development, in art, in writing, even cooking. I also found their landing page to be pretty thought provoking: “We find it is difficult to overstate the power of continually bringing your attention back to the things you care about most.”

There is a key delineation here. People are sharing themselves creating, thinking, building, and iterating in public. I think there’s something to that. It may or may not be this platform, but I’m hopeful that eventually, people will grow tired of posting pictures of themselves each and every day and adopt something more like this.

And so this all has begged a few questions for me:

  • Why are we sharing online at all? What’s the point of it all? Why do I like it?

  • What’s the appropriate amount to share? (is there such a thing as over-sharing?)

  • How do we continue to encourage sharing things that are more inherently useful for society instead of outwardly vain content (such as selfies and political propaganda)

I don’t have an answer to these issues, nor do I even fully recognize whether or not they are issues at all. All in due time, I suppose.

This week, start to consider where and why you spend your time online.

The answers might surprise you.


On My Mind

I saw this painting in McGhee Tyson Airport when I was flying back from Tennessee. When you have 5 hours to kill in an airport, you generally exhaust all viewing options (and your phone battery).

Honestly, I’ll never be an art guy. I will always appreciate something thought-provoking or beautiful, but never see my self reading too far into it.

This one stood out to me. First, I laughed. Then I was puzzled.

En Passant

I’m honestly still figuring this one out. But here’s an excerpt from the artists website:

“Our relationship with nature is often an ironic one – we desire to be more connected with the natural world while simultaneously trying to keep it at a distance, distinguishing ourselves as something separate.

In a misguided attempt at experiencing the natural world we often end up placing the natural world in pots and cages. Removed from their natural world, they become dependent on people to care for them. Our relationship becomes one of nurturing and of control, caring and confinement, captor and captive.”

Outside of thinking about that, I’ve been making a concerted effort to listen to albums I own from start to finish. This seems like something that has been lost in the era of playlists and radio. Where better to start than my collection of records?

This week: I sat down and listened to Peripheral Vision by Turnover. The other benefit of listening to physical media from back to front is the opportunity to enjoy album art:

I’m curious - do you have any albums you would listen front to back?


Building Writer’s Bloc

For those of you new here, Writer’s Bloc is a fairly new community of writers built by myself and a couple other guys. Currently, we have ~70+ people in our Slack.

I’ve been spending a lot of my personal time reading about community and how people interact. I’ve also had a ton of conversations with those that have either done this already, or are in the beginning stages of building a community.

I’ve realized one, depressing reality: every group of people is different, and to think there is a formula would be doing myself a disservice. You can imagine how I felt:

cullin

So in reaction to that reality, I’m still going to be reading and learning about community. I am also now going to spend much more time tinkering. I contracted and began working with a developer to create some small slack bots within the community. The whole idea is to give people a structured reason to share their goals for the week.

To start, it will be pretty similar to how we develop our product in my career. We set a plan for the week, and then the team retrospects after the sprint is over. If it doesn’t work, we’ll continue to iterate around that.

Overall, having a lot of fun with the mechanics of this whole process.

Have a great week!

Cullin