My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Monday, Sep 09, 2008

Is the internet killing the next generation of “characters”?

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Disclaimer: This is probably the first time I am writing about a concept or an idea instead of an opinion. I admit I don’t have the answer to this question…but want it so I am asking you to get involved and offer up your opinions and ideas so I can have closure on this.

I love bumping into people I went to High School with.

Not because I like to compare how successful we are or who looks better but because people always tell me how popular I was back then. I find this funny since I never felt like a big shot and had only a few good friends. I was an insecure kid who loved They Might Be Giants, The Pixies and Elvis Costello and would listen to Hip Hop, watch Letterman, spend my Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching movies…oh and I also used to send $75 a month to a guy in New York so he would send me cassettes of a months worth of shows from some DJ named Howard Stern who just talked and talked and never played music.

Truthfully I always felt insulated and different. As hard as I tried I couldn’t get into Phil Collins, Rush or whatever the majority of folks were following and while I wasn’t being different for different sake I just liked what I liked and that was about it.

Looking back I had a combination of an absolute vital need to please, coupled with the unwillingness to bend at all in order to accomplish it….and this is why people called me a “Character”

While not much has changed in the way of my tastes or needs, one thing is very different..I now know I am not the only one who likes the stuff I like and in all honesty it isn’t really that different!

Being part of the final generation that grew up without the Internet “always there” (I got my first computer, an IBM PS1, in 1990) and I wonder what someone would have to do now a days to be different? Just about anything you can think of has not only been done before but also documented on the ole interweb. Simply put…whatever you are into and no matter how unusual you think you are there are 100 others just like you…and this isn’t a bad thing because (sexual predators aside) this internet is actually a place that can help you not feel so alone.

So can you help me with this? I really want to know….

Can individualism still exist in the internet age?

Or with the availably of more and different music, fashion, entertainment, education is it actually easier to be different?

…love to hear your thoughts on this!

  1. When everyone is trying so damn hard to be different, we sadly become all the same. Characters need a baseline to stand out from; the internet is eroding the baseline. You may be onto something, Saul…a book maybe? (P.S. covered something like this in mine. Will show it to you in Toronto)

  2. When everyone is trying so damn hard to be different, we sadly become all the same. Characters need a baseline to stand out from; the internet is eroding the baseline. You may be onto something, Saul…a book maybe? (P.S. covered something like this in mine. Will show it to you in Toronto)

  3. I don’t know how to answer your question. But really, Saul, you knew you weren’t the only weirdo kid listening to Black Francis all along. I mean, you were able to hook up with someone to send you Howard Stern tapes, even.

    The Internet appeared to me just as I was starting to like things for myself, not just because my folks played it in the car. So, I’ve always known there were people near and far who liked the same things I liked. BUT, they didn’t like all the things I liked. One broad might’ve been into The Smiths, but she probably didn’t watch Gilmore Girls religiously, for example.

    So, maybe that’s the answer. There’s no one thing that is enjoyed by only a single person. But, it’s our combination of interests that sets us apart and makes us truly unique : )

  4. sure I knew I wasn’t the only person who liked what I liked but at the time I had no way or idea how to connect with these like minded folks. This wasn a long time ago!

    Heck, I found the Howard Stern guy by putting an ad in the Village Voice (we are talking 1989)

    I was what you would call a determinded kid…and again, not much has changed!

  5. Everything is relative. Whether influences are few or many, we will like what we like and become the individuals we are. Some people are natural leaders, some followers and some will be influenced to grow and change. The most positive influence of the internet is that no one will ever have to grow up feeling alone with their feelings, ideas or interests.

  6. If you think your individualism lies in your music, fashion, cinema, literary, etc, tastes then you are not an individual.

    The very thought that you or anyone else could ever be an individual on those grounds is just nuts (unless you created the music…).

    Your individualism lies in the essence of your soul. It’s your Saulness. Your musical tastes are an effect of that cause.

    If individualism matters to you then you should spend some time trying to understand what you’re really about. Look deeper than the music you like.

  7. Hey Adam!

    You make a good point but I don’t fully agree. My “saulness” was and is continually developing from my experiences and things I am exposed to. Every book I read or film I watch give me ideas. Every conversation I have with someone adds to who I am and how I look atbthe world. My blog post was a very simple explanation of what I am thinking but is not completly who I am.

    I do think my interests make up a small part of my personality but my personality has also been shapes by thousands and thousands of life experiences that have nothing to do with pop culture.

    I have learned 100x more from having my heart broken (and it happens all the time cauae u fall in love everyday) then I have from listening to a sad song. My likes and dislikes in the world of Music and other forms of entertainment are a big part of who I am but you could easily make a “chicken and egg” argument as to what shapes what.


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