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Something I learned at a very young age was the hierarchy of handshakes. In my childhood world, the woman was the one to give her hand to the man; the older woman to the younger woman. As a child, you always had to wait for others to decide whether they’d like to shake your hand or not.
When I moved to Austria, people thought I was being rude because I went with the rules I learned in the Czech Republic. Just so you know, in Austria, the person who enters the room is supposed to reach out and give their hand to the people who are already there. To every single one! It took some time for me to figure out what I was doing wrong. Once I understood that every culture was different, mostly concerning the most mundane rituals, I became a little more observant (and also more skeptical about hierarchies).
Then, I moved to England and realised that people were weird about touching one another altogether, and that they didn’t even make a difference in how they talked to others. Everyone was “you”, so everyone you met was, at least in the way you talked to them, equal.
After a couple of weeks living in England, I registered on Facebook. In 2007, people talk about themselves in the third person: nevertheless, this was pretty much the beginning of the social web in Europe. At the beginning of 2010, I started my blog and would share what caught my eye and what I thought was interesting. Later that year, I registered on Twitter. Around that time, there was no one who would warn others about data theft, so we were sharing a lot of private thoughts and moments with anyone who wanted to listen to us. With Instagram, it then became quite visual too, but that’s besides the point for now.
The point is, on the internet, there are no rules for who reaches out first to shake hands. On the internet, everyone goes by “you” and there are no differences between people. Sure, some people have more followers than others, but that’s mostly because they’ve been sharing their thoughts for longer. It's also because they were listening to other people and replying back to them at a time when there weren’t as many people doing just that.
I consider the social web as my most precious home because it gives me immediate access to everyone I find interesting. It’s probably the only place where your social and geographical background doesn’t matter as much. Instead, what truly matters is what you create and how you express yourself. The more people enjoy what you share, the more people will follow along. When you look at it a little closer, the currency of the internet is “creativity.”
I believe that we can only maintain this precious place the way it is if we acknowledge that we can learn from one another and that we can teach others by sharing good content with everyone who wants to listen. A couple of months ago, I encouraged you to send a handwritten letter to someone you admire and to this day, it’s the most googled piece of writing I’ve ever shared with the world, which is why I would like to bring it back to your attention. Just because I believe that sharing positivity and creativity with others is important. If you haven’t read it already, I’d like to encourage you to do so. And then, I’d like to ask you to do just what it says. Express your compliments to the person you admire the most.
The world lies at your hands: grab it! Share your art and express your compliments. And do so every day.
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