We just don’t enjoy now – we participate

girls and computer

I started to use Internet around 1994. My first blogging was in 2007 and I published my first videos on Youtube in 2009. In 2010 I got my first Twitter account.

Before the net there was BBS. I had my own BBS and BBS was basically about downloading. People appreciated that they could be anonymous and download as much as they wanted from my BBS. They didn’t have to write a presentation or upload files to get access to the download area.

The early Internet was the world’s biggest BBS. But with better bandwith everything started to change. Youtube came in 2005 and Google bought it in 2006. The new ”microblog” Twitter came around 2007. Your blog was still a little like a homepage, but with Youtube and Twitter real social networking was becoming part of our daily lives.

Today, we don’t just enjoy, consume or download. We participate and produce. Big companies own the platforms we are using, but we provide the content. If it’s free, then you are the product. We are the product the big companies are selling to their advertisers. They even sell our searchhistory, surf habits and other personal information.

Governments and agencys in your and other countries can see what you are doing on the net. The excuse is always to find ”terrorists” but other reasons might be to stop filesharing and political protest. Or just simply to control the people. The freedom on the net can be worrying for governments and big companies.

But there is a trend to see freedom, networking and sharing as something positive. Media companies, schools and workplaces can benefit from the users participation in social media and sharing of information. Companies must make money or die – and you can’t make money if you try to stay away from the rest of the world. In Sweden, the Minister of Education says phones and other mobile devices should be forbidden in classrooms. But to use a mobile device in your classroom isn’t lazy, disturbing or cheating – it’s a way to interact and learn.

We are getting less and less shy when it comes to publishing something. We can upload, share and promote blogposts, tweets, pictures, videos and stories. We can participate in discussions and share links to information and entertainment.

And everything is linked together in a network of comments, likes, links, discussions, hashtags, blogs, tweets, videos, pictures and texts. A network where we participate and enjoy, consume, produce, discuss, share and learn 1-to-1, 1-to-many, many-to-1 and many-to-many.

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Your businesscard in cyberspace

 business man

I asked a headhunter I know what employers want to know about you. He answered:

-No one wants to know what you did five years ago or how good you were then. An employer wants to know what you have achieved lately – how good you are now.

In the perfect world, everybody is judged for his or her competence. In reality, when the headhunter delivers some candidates, the company often choose the one who is most like themselves. That means he or she will fit in, but the group loses the chance to get more dynamic. A group of identical individuals might be more static.

So, if you want to get the job you apply for, you have to give proof of your latest achievements. Then you have to appear average if you want to work in an average company and special if you want to work in a special company. You have to fit in.

I used to work with computer security and was headhunted for a job as manager in an American company. The headhunter started with saying: – I read a couple of your articles on computer security and they looked good. Then he tried to explain the culture in the company:

– Have you seen The Firm with Tom Cruise?
-Yes.
– It is exactly like that.

Then he looked at my typical Swedish business clothes and said: – And when you meet them, they have a very strict dresscode. Very strict.

It is easy to change your dresscode, but it is more difficult to change your way of thinking and interacting. But if you really want the job, maybe you want to emphasize the sides of yourself you think they want to see. In this case, I choosed to start an own company with a friend instead – but that’s another story.

We show different sides and play different roles. As a political activist you probably show different sides of yourself than in the role of a parent. Sometimes the roles are hard to combine on the net and many use different pseudonyms for different groups or areas of life. In real life, your employer doesn’t hear what you say to your buddies, your children, your cat or your spouse – but on the net the present or future employer can read everything.

Already in the beginning of www, a homepage was called a businesscard in cyberspace. It is still fine for some basic information, but today people are more interested in your social skills and how you act and interact on the net. That means you have to build your digital identity by using medias like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google +, Youtube etc. Your blog or homepage can be the hub in your network of social media.

The first step is to own your identity on the net. When someone google your name, they should find your own information and not what others are writing about you. If you are anonymous, you can’t do that. Still you can use alter egos to present yourself in different groups and among friends. The problem is that an employer might find it odd that you are not present on the net.

How honest can you be? A Swedish preacher said the only remaining dirty word in our country is Jesus. If you say you believe in God, people think you believe in your ”higher self” or your ”divine side”. But if you talk about Jesus you’re a fanatic, odd and maybe not really reliable. But among members of the Swedish Church of Pentecost, it would of course be perfectly allright to talk about Jesus.

This is an example that rules can be different in different cultures and sub-cultures. So maybe you don’t want to write about subjects that are too controversial in the group you are addressing. And maybe you don’t want to write how much you hate your job if your future employer is going to read it.

If you want to impress people, it might depend on their values how they are impressed. Yesterday I discussed jobs, careers, personalities and jobsatisfaction with a guy that is studying to become a physician. I told him my focus is on learning and that I can find great joy in researching the net and learning new things. But I worked as a consultant and met a lot of people, and that was also fun. It was rather interesting to sit and drink coffee with Swedens top managers for big groups of companies. They were just human, they listened to me and we could talk like equals.

Then my friend said: -Managers for big groups of companies .. aren’t they very … boring?

 But I have learned that impressing others, or getting approval from others, is not a way to be happy in your work or in your life at all. There will always be some idiot complaining and criticizing. Trying to impress is like being a perfectionist. You wait for the final approval that will make you happy – and that final approval will never come.

I’m starting to think that the joy lies in learning, discovering, interacting and explaining your findings to others – in a never-ending process.

Well, at least for me. We are different and maybe you have to play your music on stage to be happy.  There are not so many ads for ”Rockstar wanted” to answer. But instead you can build a digital identity with yourself as a coming rockstar. Publish your covers on Youtube and link to them from social media. Publish a mixtape. Publish livevideos from your performances on local events. Prove that you can play music. And the right attitude (and maybe the right looks) can be part of your digital identity on social media.

So the message can be simplified: Take control of your digital identity.

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