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I am Extremely Online
How an internet obsessed kid grew into an internet obsessed Gen-Xer for hire.
I have to get some things off my chest…
(But first, if you find this in your inbox, it means you signed up for my other newsletter which I put on hold to focus on this.
(I should have mentioned that sooner.)
As a kid, it felt important to share my opinion and be heard despite how many people did not want to hear nor value it. In class, I raised my hand. As an active listener, I needed to nod and visibly express interest or disapproval to my parents. I mixed fairytales and parables with an observation I gleaned from TV news and something I saw on a sitcom or stand up routine to entertain family members.
I learned about people, from people. At age four, my primary fascinations were my Commodore 64, our VCR, and the content in the books on my Mother’s shelves. Now, after over two insane decades in journalism and digital marketing, for better or worse, I am Extremely Online and this newsletter will serve to help me (and hopefully you) work through the good and the bad of that.
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. -the late Futurist Alvin Toffler.
The internet has been the best and worst thing to impact my life. Daily consumption of it dominates my life. When people take surfing sabbaticals, I’m confused by this choice while simultaneously admiring their resolve. Being online is not just part of my work—I need it to do my job. I am expected to be online and ready to post at all times, and this is not hyperbole, I have been expected to post at 2 am, at 5 am, I have posted content while I was getting a bikini wax or laying beside my husband in a tropical setting basking in a fading post-coital glow as the screen on my phone lights up with a “Hey, can you post?” text. My iPhone is the third wheel in our marriage.
TMI? Sure, but that’s the job and the client doesn’t care that I have a life. You learn to pivot your productivity strategy and suddenly, your skin has grown thicker.
Extremely Online will probe the state of the internet’s past and present, how we got here and why does it work this way. All of this through the lens of an early adopter, pop culture connoisseur who has seen and done it all. I will also observe how the always-on culture presents obstacles to obtaining balance in a world desperately seeking altruistic alternatives to connect. (Hint: Clubhouse indicates to me that the random phone call will make a comeback post-pandemic.)
Social media is evolving at a breakneck pace but even with all the ways one can consume media, I can’t escape the necessity of trend-spotting, even if I hate it. I can anticipate what’s next the same way I know immediately what kind of client will never respond to my advice. If you simply need me to just post and you’re not interested in strategizing alongside me? You’re not that interested in growth. You have to give a shit about your brand to own social media, and being hyper online is how I bring forth that knowledge and experience to shape and develop mine.
“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.” - digital analyst/author, Brian Solis
Growing up, I spent most afternoons in the public library immersing in content from how-to, reference, and self-help books. The weekends were for roaming the aisles of Tower Records in the Embarcadero, a 45-minute ride to buy one cassette single or CD was my entire joy while thumbing through LPs and Maxi-CD catalogs. My idols were anchors and correspondents like Dan Rather, Ed Bradley, Jessica Savitch, Andy Rooney, and late night titans like Carson, Letterman, Arsenio and Joan Rivers. After school it was the news, MTV, and MS-DOS. Nothing could quell my burgeoning interest in online culture and escaping into the known unknown.
This interest was innate and drove my desire to be a journalist. Though my reportage is now condensed to multiple 280 character tweets per day, I have done the work to justify the pithy snark. My career started at 16 and includes stints at 2 networks, 2 radio stations, 3 magazines, 2 newspapers, and all before I was 30. Currently I run my own consulting business for 8 years but I do not consider it my primary motivator. By working through my art (writing, speaking), I am focused on honing and developing personal essays, podcasts, contributing to outlets, and through this newsletter embarking on a natural extension of my storytelling and this felt like a good place to truly start this journey.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer. - author, badass, poet Zora Neale Hurston
Also, I can’t discuss the landscape without highlighting my personal experience of having the internet nip at my psyche and safety. If I’m going to play whac-a-mole with my triumphs and trauma, the story has to live and breathe on this page in totality. I will share those moments of my life traveling through analog and digital and how it felt to experience lightning in a bottle. I predict it will be a long time before we feel euphoric again. 2020 propelled us towards this very moment for good reason. I’ve never done more self-reflection than I did in the last year and to lament the collective gains and losses feels liberating and cathartic.
Through EO, I want to honor the nostalgia, recognize worthy game-changing contributions, present some pragmatism and share personal stories of how being so deeply embedded into the fourth and fifth estates has shaped my life and how my approach to it will evolve and shift as we hurdle towards our uncertain future.
Thanks for reading.
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