I didn’t grow up with a television and have never owned one as an adult. The reason for this is quite simple: I’m very guarded about what comes into my life because if I’m not, the wrong things can easily take over.
For example, a few years ago my friend, who also had always lacked a television, and I had a girly weekend at the Ritz in Los Angeles – Club Level. At our disposal was a spa, swimming pool, trails, bikes, and privy to Club Level, a lounge with several (free) food servings each day. We had a sprawling two-room suite with an amazing balcony that had an unbelievable view. And in our room were two of the largest Sony televisions we had ever seen.
Since we’d both gone without TV, we turned one on and showing was the story of a 500lb man on the Discovery Channel. We. Could. Not. Stop. Watching. We said during commercials we’d go out once the show was over but that didn’t happen. For the two tonne twins came up after that. And after that was some other show on obesity.
After three hours I turned off the tv as with both laid lifeless on the bed.
“Do you want to ride bikes now?” I asked.
“No, I don’t feel like it. What about swimming?”
“I can’t get into my bikini! I feel fat!”
We had become so absorbed by other peoples lives that we were unable to lead our own despite the fact we were in one of the most incredible settings for the sole purpose of having fun.
So that is why there is a lack of TV in my home and always has been. This has, at times in certain groups, made me somewhat of a social outcast in America since so many references and inside jokes seem to be TV lines (it was only a year ago thanks to YouTube I got the whole “No soup for you” thing). But I get away with not knowing a lot because I didn’t grow up in America and because I actually know more than I should by paying attention to all the conversations that people have about pop culture (I can tell you a surprising about of random TV facts).
The point is, I’ve managed really well without TV in a TV world. Then I realised that my TV was the Internet and that was bombarding me and my subconscious far too much without any useful benefit. It was, instead of me feeling inspired and creative, was making me feel like I was watching bad television and feeling unfit to do anything about it afterwards.
Since being online since 1995 I’ve seen all the trends of the web world and have been a part of a lot of them. I’ve been web famous several times (it comes and goes), created lots of communities, hung out with the geeks, the cool kids and followed all the web pages, news and dish that’s gone along with it.
It wasn’t until over a year ago that I began to really question the internet and how it affected me. The internet and I were in one of those tumultuous relationships where we’d break up then makeup with fervor. We were codependent yet I’d never thought to ask why since I figured it had to be in my life – since most of it seemed to have replaced my life.
But last year I was recruited by a company to build community for its sites by writing content and connect people I knew (writers, artists, leaders in their industries) to the sites. I was suspicious but not enough to say no; I loved a challenge, I loved the idea of doing what I did on a bigger scale and I loved the idea more of helping people I knew get more exposure.
However I quickly learned that the company was more about page count than useful content. They wanted to be the “biggest distributer of content” on the internet – even if it was (by their own admission) very bad content. They wanted page views and sign ups which in my opinion, is not community. It didn’t get people helping people and it didn’t get people living life. IAnd in my efforts I was being asked to abuse personal and professional relationships that took me years to develop for their sites and gain but not for that of the writers or the community. Instead of being a voice of service in verticals I was passionate about and helping people I knew gain exposure, I quickly became a high-paid talent manager for bad sites and disgruntled friends.
After a lot of internal discussion to get my job to be like the actual job description I wrote when I agreed to come on and the company doing everything they could to keep me from doing that description, I realised that the company didn’t work the way I did and I had to quit.
And that left me to wonder, where in the web world do I belong?