The New Normal

Every day, I am amazed. I’m amazed by the things people build, by the depth of a person’s being. I am amazed by the fact that these things are readily available for me to witness.

I’ve marveled over the fact that friendship is changing because connections are changing. Not so long ago, friendships were largely determined by geographic proximity to another person. As the web becomes more pervasive, location is being replaced by other factors more conducive to true connection: interests, beliefs, ambitions.

I’ve noticed, too, that as these connections run deeper, another effect has emerged: the New Normal.

Twenty years ago, as I was growing up, people shared very little of themselves with others. A close-knit group of best friends could claim to know each other very well, but even that paradigm, in retrospect, seems one of closely guarded selves.

For contrast, take the recent piece over on Deliberatism, in which Eric Karjaluoto laments the effect of Facebook and the like on his life. Eric speaks with remarkable candor, giving us a glimpse of the inner workings of his psyche. By doing so, it feels as if I know a small portion of Eric better than I knew most of my ‘best friends’ growing up. By baring his soul, he’s uncovered a portion of mine in one simple, truthful piece of writing.

This is a trend I see more and more around the web, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about its implications.

We all hid(e) the more neurotic, darker regions of our brains from our circles. In fact, we still do. Somehow, though, the web has made full disclosure a more inviting prospect. Perhaps because our words can now float in the ether, with no threat of immediate rejection, we are freed to shed more light on the corners of ourselves so long neglected.

The result, if this trend continues, will be deeper connections, since we are no longer connecting by favorite ballplayers, or soccer matches, or the watercooler, or through some mutual acquaintance. We are connecting to people across the world by threads as yet unseen, from places we’ve been afraid to access ourselves, let alone reveal to the world. This is crucial to our understanding of the world. If we hide so much of ourselves, how can we expect to gain a true understanding of our world, since we, essentially, create the reality that we occupy?

This candor, this truth, reminds me of the Slow Web Movement, but feels much more deliberate, more profound, more meaningful. Call it the Deep Web Movement. Show me who you are. I will reciprocate, and the web- the world- will be a better place for it. After all, our reality is, at its simplest level, a vast network of connections between you, me, and everyone in-between. Our world can only go as deep as those connections. Be you. All of you, without censors. This is the New Normal.