Your Place in the Virtual Revolution

This post is for parents, bloggers, Facebookers, anyone who’s stuck a foot out on Cyberland. In our talk about belonging, we seemed to think in terms of the social Haves and Have-nots. Many of you spoke of the self-consciousness of often feeling on the fringe. Some shared you were too fat or too this or too that to fit in, others that you never even figured out why you always seemed to find yourself on the outside. I wanted to bring to attention something that’s as right in your face as the computer or phone screen in front of you. The Internet has given every one of us the power to lead. It has made us all insiders.

It’s a new day, a global Do-It-Yourself culture everyone with online access is privy to. YouTube alone is an open platform where anyone can catapult himself into stardom and not hurt himself trying. You can post the silliest, quirkiest, most informative videos and reach thousands in the least – and make as much in dollars. My husband has had the opportunity to monetize his funky YouTube tutorial on how to make Man Kimchee (kimchee made by a man, unheard of in Korean culture. No, I didn’t edit the instructions. See? You can toss basic grammar out the window and still have a shot at good money). We all have watched publishing, newspaper, music conglomerates groan as they caved, giving up a share of the power to self-publishers and bloggers. Cyberspace has become the Great People’s Republic. Alongside the question of copyright; space, boundaries, relationships have redefined themselves yielding a new profile on leaders. Here’s a snippet of a TED Talk from Squidoo.com’s founder Seth Godin and my thoughts on the traits he believes leaders have in common:

1. They challenge the status quo. I’ve observed that high achievers in any field are always on the move, eyeing the next benchmark or creating one. They’re never static.
2. They build a culture. Leadership is less about giving orders as it is about connecting people over shared values and goals. It is the worldwide web, after all. Tribes are no longer bound by geography, no longer have to adapt to the dictate of seasons. Virtual tribes can build community across distance and time, and determine their own climate.
3. They have curiosityabout the people in the tribe, about outsiders. They’re asking questions.
4. They connect people to one another. Do you know what people want more than anything? They want to be missed. They want to be missed the day they don’t show up. Seth wasn’t clear if he meant that leaders help people feel valued or if they themselves end up missed where they leave a vacuum. But I found this a fascinating point. We want to know we count, don’t we?
5. Finally, they commit. To the cause, to the tribe.

Seth also describes leaders who have risen from the masses by sheer drive, people who outside their success are socially awkward. “You don’t need charisma to become a leader. Being a leader gives you charisma. You know, Bill [Gates] has a lot of trouble making eye contact. Bill has a lot of trouble getting a room of strangers to come around to his point of view. But now, because of the impact his foundation has had, people feel differently around him.” Interesting. People are drawn to success. Social Have-nots can actually get.

Seth points out that you don’t need permission to lead. I would add, to make a difference. “I’m not the best blogger there ever was, but I’ve been persistent at it. Anyone could’ve done what I did. But they didn’t. And we keep making the same mistake again and again where we say, Oh no, no. That’s not for me. Someone else is going to do that one. [We make] excuses from fear.” So it seems all that’s left if you hope for a voice and an audience is to deny yourself the fear and get out of your own way.

Last Sunday I hit 1000 likes on my About. A part of me finds it a pretty remarkable milestone for someone who didn’t know which way was up when she started out. If I can do this without the aid of other media platforms, you can get along farther than you think. But the rest of me isn’t starry-eyed about my numbers. Partly because I’m too tired to be impressed, partly because others out here have done that and more, partly because you quickly adjust to your new heights and press on to higher ground. Like those who’re not satisfied with just one medal, title, or mission. This last feeling is a point of transformation all its own for me as one who is not a born dreamer. I was a wide-eyed baby blogger, seeing 200 follows on a board. And wow, how’d she rack up 75 likes? But I’ve come to a point where I’m not concerned about the numbers anymore. They’re nice but they’ll take care of themselves. My focus is on delivering the goods and on my relationship with you. As for authenticity, at the time my About page walked itself right out of my head, decided it had to live. What in your life insists on its own breath? Give it sun and air. I will support my son in just about anything he wants to pursue when he’s older. But I’ll want him to stay persistent, skillful, and inimitable. Do what he wants to do beautifully, his own way. Leave a mark. It’s my job to provide the opportunities for him to hear what in his spirit asks to live and nurture the will for him to shoot it to the moon. The majority of us has limitations weighing on our dreams, but don’t let your self-talk be one of them. We stop making excuses for ourselves, license to achieve little, when we accept that the stars usually won’t align over our head or the red carpet run under our feet when we want to set out. We each have our pace, mine maddeningly slow most days. A dream to me feels like a painstaking tapestry of priceless minutes I thread here, braid there, working my way around this giant rock I resent that’s really just the stuff of life. We make do. Berlin isn’t the only place the Wall’s come down. We’re talking about leadership in any context but the virtual world has leveled the playing field. Take your place. Claim it. If you want to.

214 thoughts on “Your Place in the Virtual Revolution

  1. Great piece. I find that if I commit to something, I can’t give anything less than 110% and this automatically results in something successful.
    Even though you don’t think about the numbers much (neither do I, since I blog for me and not for anyone else) but I still think Congratulations are in order. The numbers indicate that you are a person who strikes a chord somewhere within a lot of people. Social media has its good and bad, but I think that it allows us to connect with people whom we otherwise would not have had an opportunity to meet. I am glad I met you and look forward to getting to know you better πŸ˜€

    • So so sweet. Still feeling sheepish for the congrats, as that wasn’t my main point. I really was trying to encourage you all. Just this past week I was puzzling out more technical stuff on WPress. Doof!

      When I read this,
      ” I can’t give anything less than 110% and this automatically results in something successful.”

      I thought well, no wonder you’ve been rockin’ on the blog. =)

      I think I’ll be talking more about the numbers at some point, bringing up how so many say they blog for themselves. DON’T be put off if I do. It is I who need to clarify, off of this post, that numbers do bear weight out here. I do care about them – I just don’t have angst over them.

      I’ve appreciated the active support. Yes, glad we connected. Thanks for taking a moment.

      Xxx
      Diana

  2. Reblogged this on Writersfield and commented:
    A different outlook to blogging in general. Something to think about concerning how it cannot and should not be taken for granted, especially when it comes to reaching a mass audience.

  3. I am finding, as a former classroom teacher of middle and high school kiddos, that now that I can no longer stand up in front of a room full hostile, hormone-crazed mini-people and shoot seriously educational wind-age at them, I can use those same skills on the internet and be successfully ignored by people I don’t even know yet. When I reach the end of a sentence like that last one and don’t hear snoring, I feel exhilarated. I even have some evidence in the comments that people have read past the 300 word mark and still understood what I was saying. You are right about how empowering blogging on the internet can be. I have now written five novels and published three with the juice I’ve gathered from blogging and connecting on the internet, especially WordPress.

    • Wonderful. I was actually thinking more specifically along these lines last night, how I think we build relationships out here that are in some ways more authentic than IRL because those who don’t take to us simply don’t need to stick around. Btw, the one age group I refuse to teach is jr. high. =) Puberty. ^^

    • Love for classical literature was beginning to die when I was about fifty. Kids still loved it, but the administration was being fed more information from the top to keep teachers so busy they did not have time to teach the strong subjects. That seemed to be how it began, but then the new entry level people came in with fun and games and subject matter died. Kids learned they could join biker groups, cheer leader teams, sports and more extracurricular business that brought the school money and who cared about real subjects?

      Autormbreyer, thanks for your observations. This gives me ideas for a new category on my blog! Happy blogging!

  4. Like so very often, you are exactly right about what you say. This time in regards to Cyberspace giving anyone the chance to lead. Even though I realize it’s not that special, last week when I not only had someone reblog one of my posts for the first time, but two different people reblogged the same piece on the same day, I really was taken aback. I flat out asked myself. “Why, they’re just some fractals I did?” But you are absolutely correct, if a person just relaxes, doesn’t worry too much about trying to please everybody else, and just lets whatever they have inside themselves flow, they too can find that leader within that is just looking for a way out. So once again I thank you for your seemingly never-ending supply of encouragement to so many people who like myself who can really use the positive feedback. Thanks again.

  5. thank you for sharing this beautiful and useful reflection. i love the value you place on persistence, skill and inimitability when it comes to doing something beautifully. and i love the thought that the job of a parent is to provide the opportunities for a child to hear what in their spirit asks to live and to nurture the will to shoot that to the moon. it occurs to me that these are responsibilities we can also try to uphold towards ourselves. keep working on that tapestry! πŸ™‚ x

    • What thoughtful feedback. Thanks so much for reflecting this piece back to me and for the follow. I’m not seeing your name tied to a blog. Leave me a link if you do in fact have an active blog.

      Warmly,
      Diana

  6. I think in order to lead you have to give something personal of yourself. Hipness or flippancy only go so far. Your writing inspires me to be more fearless. You reveal who you really are. I think when I first started blogging I wanted to present an image rather than exposing my true self, my beliefs etc.

    I’m still working through how much to share. You have just the right balance, Diana!

    Love,
    A

    • I love this. And the loving encouragement is timely.

      “think when I first started blogging I wanted to present an image rather than exposing my true self, my beliefs etc.”

      You have a distinct voice, Adrienne, wired with (sarcastic LOL or dry) humor, rich with intelligence. Couple that with your aesthetic eye (waaahhhh…..jealous), and with the honesty and the layers you want to lay down…well, you will do even better than you have been. Was so glad to see your blog growing.

  7. Would you believe, today I attended the Digital Africa Conference in Nigeria, and a few of the speakers mentioned the very thing(s) you talk of. The problem though – is the country ready to leapfrog all its problems so that they can embrace the ever expanding technology before it leaves them! Great writing.

  8. I am thrilled that technology provides the possibility of communication and meeting people across the globe. There are so many opportunities to learn from others. Thanks for the inspiration.

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