I accidentally stumbled onto Medium.
I saw an article that intrigued me on another social media platform (which is rare these days). I read it and thought to myself, “damn that was an awesome article and is exactly what I been thinking too.” I liked the article so much that a couple of days later I went back and read it again.
On the second reading I noticed something I hadn’t the first time through. At the bottom there was a small note — and I’m paraphrasing here-that said this article was originally published in Medium.
Immediately I thought, “Wait…there’s another site where I might find more of this thoughtful, intelligent writing I encountered in this article (something I’d been craving yet hadn’t found)?” Of course, I presumed Medium was going to be a place that focused on similar articles and topics to the one that I had read.
Boy was I wrong and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I found a whole new world. I felt like I had stumbled in through some secret back door to a place I had never heard of and couldn’t believe what I was reading. It felt like that scene in Lion King when Pumba and Timone pull back the branches to reveal the beauty of where they live to Simba and there’s that climactic “aaaaahhhhh” music in the background. No kidding!
It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. It was so much better. It was a world where people were writing interesting, intelligent, thought-provoking pieces about every topic under the sun. I read one article. And then another. And then another. It was such a breathe of fresh air to the drivel that I had come to expect from 90% of the social media out there. I had already successfully quit using certain social media platforms for nearly a decade because of the lack of value I had found they provided but I still craved a connection to the world.
I had tried to keep in touch with a daily paper but eventually I came to realise that every time I would read the paper, by the time I put it down, I had this feeling of anxiety that I just wouldn’t be able to shake. The anxiety grew to the point that even seeing the paper had been delivered immediately invoked anxiety in me. I cancelled the paper. I should probably see a therapist about that.
Anyway, that left online sources. The pros were it was “free” and kept me updated to the minute with “important” news. The cons? The majority of it was depressing and anxiety inducing just like the newspaper. It was really starting to affect my mood. I was starting to lose faith in the world and in humanity and human beings. But I needed some method of staying connected to what was going on.
The worst part wasn’t even the articles. It was the endless negativity driven by comment upon comment. It’s like there’s some unwritten rule that if you have nothing good to say then it’s ok to be a troll because even people, who weren’t trying to be trolls, and merely expressing their disagreement, inevitably came across as trolls. The negativity and lack of constructive comments was staggering. Rarely would I see something interesting or constructive. The knee jerk responses were stereotypical and a dime a dozen…no more like a dime a fourscore (that’s right I’m bringing it back Abe). If scientists ever wanted to prove that “talk is cheap” I think the evidence speaks for itself.
Every morning I would wake up to see what the world had decided to get angry about that day. Most of it had absolutely no relevance nor impact on my life yet I would still start feeling down and anxious about what I would read.
Then I stumbled onto Medium. I would read articles and they would be something I could relate to. At other times, I would read something I couldn’t relate to but even then it was interesting nonetheless. Either way I would typically find it enjoyable to read. I didn’t feel down and anxious at the end of every article. It became the one place that I could rely on for compelling content — which is what I had been searching for and just didn’t think existed. Going to Medium was like going to any restaurant in New York City- there are incredible places to eat but pick any random restaurant door and walk in and the food will still be good. In fact, I would argue that it’s actually a challenge to find a bad place to eat in NYC. Likewise, it’s quite a challenge to find a poorly written article on Medium. I’m not saying it’s all award winning writing on Medium but even the most mediocre articles I’ve read are interesting.
When reading pieces on Medium, I would find myself feeling a wide range of emotions, which is something I was not accustomed to and many times the stories would bring back memories of my own past experiences that were similar. I started noticing that the range of emotions and range of thoughts I experienced at Medium were so much broader than anywhere else — sometimes I would feel passion, sometimes joy, sometimes sadness, sometimes pain, sometimes pleasure and at times the articles would even invoke anxiety. But what I noticed was it wasn’t the anxiety ridden emotions that I felt on other platforms when reading about the plight of the world. It was the simple anxiety I had experienced myself in similar situations. And it was ok. I had gotten past it and typically the person who wrote the article had too — I have yet to encounter a piece that was specifically written to induce anxiety (which seems to be the primary goal of mass media). In certain moments I would even feel a bond between myself and the writer simply because of our shared experiences — there’s something so enjoyable about engaging with people’s personal and quite often raw experiences — they can be so relatable.
The comment section was my biggest surprise though. Where were the trolls? Where were the naysayers waiting to stomp all over your thoughts, and feelings and experiences? I could hardly find them.
I read one article that asked that everyone take it easy on them because it was their first article. And of course they would say that because on any other platform there are seemingly hoards of trolls just sitting around waiting to pounce — environments where attacking others is the norm. Why would they expect anything different on Medium. But somehow it IS different. You can be painfully honest and wear your heart on your sleeve and share your honest experiences without getting blasted to the moon. And I love it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not wearing rose coloured glasses here. It’s not like people don’t disagree on Medium. They do. And I haven’t searched every crevice for examples of the opposite. I’m sure there are trolls somewhere here. But on the whole and in general everyone seems to respect each other’s work. Maybe it’s the fact that Medium is a community OF writers, FOR writers — all of whom have put their time and energy and heart into what they’ve written.
Whatever the reason is, it’s amazing and so refreshing. It’s enlightening. It’s restored my faith in the world and has proved to me that there ARE intelligent humans being on the planet willing to thoughtfully share their experiences, beliefs and ideas. A place full of people writing. Sharing their experiences. Being honest. Being dishonest. Being raw. Being real. Being creative. Being whomever they are and whatever they want to be without needing to fear swift retribution from their peers.
I can’t help but think that there’s probably some great psychological study that can be gleaned from this because somehow for $5 a month I’ve found a haven where I can find an intelligent perspective on nearly any subject on earth.
How did $5 nearly eradicate trolling behaviour? Is talk really that cheap? Go to any other platform and it’s a war zone of destructive comments. Go to Medium and it’s difficult to find destructive criticism even when people disagree. We know that “free” social media is not really free and driven by data mining and advertisements but is simply removing those two things all it took to create a constructive writing platform for writers of all levels and experiences?
All I’m really trying to say is THANK YOU.
Thank you to Medium for creating a platform for writers.
Thank you to all the writers for contributing thoughtful and intelligent articles.
Thank you to everyone that’s contributing to maintain this place for compelling content not driven by click-bate and ads.
And thank you for giving me a place to go where I can feel better about the world.
I can’t stop telling people about Medium these days.