As the self-proclaimed BookTrib Nerd and digital native, this book by Sarah Granger came across my desk and I was immediately intrigued. In a world of selfies, Instas, tweets and likes it’s hard not to get completely wrapped up in the hype of social interaction on the Internet. A daily activity becomes addiction and before you know it you’re checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, emails, and texts 374 times a day and neglecting “real life.”
But it doesn’t have to be seen that way, in the excerpt below, from Sarah’s book The Digital Mystique, she bridges the gap between past and present interactions amongst humans and takes an empowering stance on how to seize digital opportunities without undermining real-world relationships. Why can’t the Internet work for you? Help you grow, learn, and create a positive effect on our lives? It can, and here’s why…
The Digital Mystique
By Elisa Camahort Page, Cofounder of BlogHer
In 2006 Betty Friedan died, and my mother told me that Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, had changed her life. Inspired and empowered by that book, my mom entered the workforce and forged an entirely new path for herself, becoming my role model in the process. My mom was at the forefront of a cultural revolution . . . second-wave feminism.
In 2006 another cultural revolution was picking up steam: the digital revolution. New levels of access and new tools were driving an entirely new way of connecting and communicating online. A new way to be heard. And it was particularly inspiring and empowering for women and minority segments of the population who felt otherwise unheard. Locked out by traditional gatekeepers.
All of this new opportunity can be both exhilarating and intimidating.
I may be the cofounder of a digitally-native company, but I can relate.
I am not a digital native. Born in the final official year of the baby boom, I didn’t touch my first computer until I was out of college. I didn’t have an e-mail address until I was thirty-three, nor did I put the “personal” in “personal computer” until I was thirty-eight.
Ironically, I worked in tech, helping deliver to market the equipment that delivered the Internet to homes. But until 2003 it was more theory than practice for me.
Ten years ago, that all changed, and I hopped on the social media train early. In fact, before it was called social media!
I was that person patiently explaining that no, being a blogger didn’t mean I sat in a basement in my pajamas telling you what I had for lunch.
And yes, I really had made good, true friends online, despite never having met them in real life.
I’ve tried to explain things like blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus to a wide range of those I call “regular people.” It’s not easy to show.
How I believe something as simple as a Yahoo! Group for owners of cats with kidney disease helped me extend my cat’s life to twenty years old.
How women from all walks of life are making money for their words and their work. Money that buys their groceries or pays their rent . . . or just enables them to go out to dinner every now and then, or feel less stressed about money day-to-day . . . even during the toughest economic times in most of our adult memories.
How people dealing with the hardships we usually keep to ourselves . . . post-partum mental health issues, infertility, grief, loss, illness, parenting challenges . . . are finding a circle of 24/7 support that doesn’t exist in what geeks affectionately call “meatspace” (aka IRL, in real life). A community of people who opt in to talk about the tough subjects and can always be found. Day in. Day out. In the wee hours. When you know you can’t bend your best friend’s ear or cry on your partner’s shoulder one more time.
How online tools have facilitated revolutions. And social change. And given everyone a voice. You don’t have to listen to every voice. Not everyone will listen to yours. But everyone with a mobile phone, library card, or other access to the Internet can get online and change the(ir) world.
Online has become my go-to space for every aspect of my life, truly integrated. And it has brought me knowledge, entertainment, friendship, support, relationships (including my significant other), and ultimately my life’s work in BlogHer.
Call me utopian, but I think everyone can find that kind of fulfillment and value navigating the Internet, and Sarah Granger can help you chart your course.
Sarah has been online even longer than I have and is at the forefront of many of the new uses for the World Wide Web. I have seen Sarah leverage the power of digital networks and communications for the personal, the political, and the professional. And I have invited her to many BlogHer conferences to share her knowledge and her advice on how we all can traverse this space as gracefully and effectively.
You may be wary of the downsides and pitfalls. You may be scared of the time suck or invasion of your privacy, perhaps the degradation of your offline community.
But you are in control of your destiny here! Use this book and Sarah’s guidance to be the one in charge of—not in thrall to—the wonders of an online life. Use this book to find the inspiration and empowerment enabled by this new cultural revolution.
You’ll be glad you did.
Foreword is by Elisa Camahort Page, Cofounder of BlogHer. Excerpted from The Digital Mystique: How the Culture of Connectivity Can Empower Your Life—Online and Off, by Sara Granger. With permission from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2014.