13 Things I Wish I Had Known About Going Online

Looking back to when I started taking  my freelancing online, I realized that there were a number of things that if I had known sooner would probably have been beneficial for my mental health. Some technical things, like how the internet ≠ the web, are important to know,  but this knowledge alone won't make the transition to going digital any easier. Some things we only learn by doing. 
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1. You don't need to be homeless, dying, or broken to be asking for money.


If you're not used to asking for things in real life, due to confidence issues, ego, cultural/language barriers, like me, then you need to start accepting this as a fact of life. 
The web is not all black market, hacking, pornography, or phishing. 
It's still all that, but it's also a realm of people supporting other people, people looking to advance their causes, groups of people looking to network, forums, and people looking to help other people. 
We don't need to be homeless, dying, living below the poverty line, or be locked up abroad first to get people to financially support us. 
Using platforms like Patreon, Ko-fi, and Buy Me a Coffee, creators are offering their fans, friends, family friends, even strangers, something of value for their support. 
I find this crowdfunding concept super hard to grasp. 
Growing up middle class, I was under the impression that asking for money from friends would automatically terminate the relationship. (I'll get into that in a separate post soon.)



2. Great posts are no substitute for being social.


Being social in real life is no substitute for being social online. There is no substitute for being social
A person likes your post, shared it, watched your video, became a subscriber, but you're not engaging back with said person. If you're not returning the likes or at least following back, then you're not being social. 
It's called leeching. That's one term for you. 
Leeching is where you profit off of an unbalanced (or selfish) relationship, where a party gives and gives and gives while the other party does not reciprocate. 
Today's postmodern society have brought their children up thinking such constructs are normal. We learn to tolerate them. 
Celebrities and large corporations do it to us all the time. They exploit our attention, time, and money while we're in the position of having to consume everything they have to offer. 
Multi-level marketing schemes exploit the economically vulnerable into "relationships" where they are used and financially abused. 
We're made to believe that these multi-level marketing relationships are the relationships we should be having and the ones we should be keeping.
It's normal to be busy and overwhelmed by life and all of its problems, but it's not normal to be completely and utterly ignored in a relationship. 
We just have to take the time to be social with our followers, other social media influencers, members of our social media groups, and don't expect any super great, super fantastic posts (e.g. religious posts, wedding photos, selfies, etc.) to make up for any essential social engagement


3. Invest in a professional email account. 


I can't believe I didn't figure this out sooner. 
For cold-pitching, job search, negotiating influencer deals with foreign brands, or blogger outreach, it's a good idea to use a professional-looking email account. 
No need to go big on the first day, but maybe stay away from the XXXDragonBallerZ@gmail.com type of email. 
Get an email forwarding for your domain and have a separate email address for each business process. Maybe start with something like hello@yourbrand.com for public relations, and then branch out to course@yourbrand.com for email courses, etc. 


4. The best way to find the right answer is NOT to ask the right question...


The internet is the place to go for shared knowledge and information. But it's also a huge and lawless place. We'll never find anything if we don't know where to look. So what do we do?
An orange cat and its book
How doth one asketh a question?

According to the father of Wiki, Ward Cunningham, the best way to get the right answer on the internet is "to post the wrong answer."
People publish collectively on a Wiki to an audience who directly can edit and manage the pages from their web browsers. A Wiki is living proof of how the theory works. 
Hopefully, by demonstrating that you have the wrong information, someone somewhere will stay up late to correct you online.
People will go above and beyond in the forums and in topic groups to show how wrong they are in order to find the right answer. It can get really obvious too that no one is obligated to correct you if you are indeed wrong, so be active. 
Scour through places like Discord, Reddit, Quora, Stack Overflow or other question and answer sites to see if someone out there already has a percentage of the answer you need. 



When it comes to going digital, we all need to be looking at everything from the first-time beginner's perspective, because even the most advanced internet whiz was a noob at some point. 
Governments and their organizations will tell you to be careful but will rarely elaborate on what they really mean by "being careful online". We are mostly at the mercy of security experts in order to stay safe online.
You've got to do your own homework:
⭐ Read up on tips and how-tos from the blog of leading security companies, like the ones whose products you might use: McAfee or Kaspersky.
⭐ Take online courses from reputable providers on Udemy, Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning), or BitDegree.
If nothing else, the recent coronavirus disease pandemic has shown us that colleges and universities are really no experts at being careful online. They were canceling classes, pushing deadlines away, exposing students' personal email addresses, as they moved their classrooms online to make the shift. 
It's been a few decades since I was a teenager, and I haven't been a teenager for a long time now, but I think the best way for us to learn about privacy is to think like a teenager. Their main concern is not the NSA, but they are experts in hiding information in plain sight—from parents, teachers, school principles. 
Be extra careful, like teenagers.
Another thing that we should do is consult the website of other countries' government organizations to learn more about internet safety rules and online safety measures. 
Read up on their public-facing blog posts and check out their social media handles for FAQs and best practices. If you're a parent, learn from Common Sense Media or organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 


6. Whatever you do, learn excel. 


It doesn't matter what your profession is, learn excel. Want to succeed as a digital marketer? Learn excel. Want to someday be a published author? Learn excel. Want to be a world-class chef and maybe open your own restaurant? Learn excel. 
Bored out of your mind with nothing to do? Learn excel. Tired of your daily routines and looking for some adventure? Learn excel. 
Bottom line is, the future is yours...if you learn Excel

@miss.excel

FACE OFF: VLOOKUP vs. XLOOKUP 🤜💥 Comment below - which team are you on?! ##howto ##skillbuilding ##fyp ##excel ##exceltips ##edutok

♬ Timber - Pitbull/Ke$ha
[Please follow me on TikTok. I'm new 👉 @lovellifuad]


7. We really do need to state the obvious. 


Believe it or not, when you go online, you need to be willing to state the obvious. Not to be rude, but because people need to be told the obvious. Because obviously we're not mind readers and because it is obviously one way to avoid legal problems

Close up of Ginger the cat
Meoweth

We're practically among other foreign tourists when we are online. These are people with different languages and experiences that don't know many of the things that you know, unless you share them. What's obvious to a group of people might not be so obvious to others. 


8. People don't just ask questions because they want to know the answer.


If they did, they’d just go straight to the FAQ page, wouldn’t they? Wanting to know the answer is just one of the many reasons people go online and ask questions.
On the internet you can Google anything at any hour of the day. It’s therefore pretty reasonable to expect a person to have done a bit of an internet search before asking a particular question in the forums or on a community page.
Our wild guess is that that the person asking the question already has some idea of what the answer is. Maybe she just needed to confirm something?
There’s also the following common possibilities:
⭐ To make a statement. Questions are a way of expressing concerns over an issue that you're following. People can ask a question as a way to direct attention on a matter that needs consideration. For example, timing. "Why now?"
⭐ To sell something. Business people direct attention to themselves and their products by asking questions about issues related to what their products can solve. It could be that the questions are to build up a hype prior to a product campaign. 
⭐ To get you off their back. When a person asks a lot of questions about a topic, demanding a lot of data, and making you do a lot more "library work" for them, it's very likely that they are just trying to get you off their back. 
Can you think of other reasons to ask a question that do not involve looking for answers? 


9. Our intellectual property rights need to change ASAP.


John Naughton, a professor at the Open University, recently explained in an article published by The Guardian why the current intellectual property (IP) right does not fit the purpose when it comes to the digital world. According to the author of “From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet,” our present copyright laws would only fit a world where copying is difficult and imperfect. 
Well, flash news: such a world doesn't exist anymore!
Computers have to make copies of an entire web page to be able to load on a device. It’s basically the way it works. The act of copying to computers is what breathing is to a living being.
Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, everywhere you look you’ll find some type of copyright infringement. Our current lifestyle and acceptable use of technology will continue to make IP laws irrelevant. To exist online people are essentially becoming digital publishers.


10. There are more things to do than music. 

Ginger perching on top of a computer monitor with her his headset on
Kitty anthem ♭
Maybe back when The Sex Pistols just launched "God Save the Queen" the only cool thing to do was music. But today there are hundreds of things we can do together on the internet that does not involve giving your soul away:
  • watch TV
  • watch live stream of sports events
  • take online courses
  • look at/learn/make/sell/discuss arts
  • play online games
  • live stream your own gaming show
  • attend online gyms & sports camps
  • take online tours of world's prisons (or museums)
  • attend Broadway shows and encore theatre shows...
You can even do various other things online that you weren't able to do on campus. For example, you can take online courses and learn at your own pace. Or, you can mentor others online. 



Search results for a similar keyword can be completely different not just because of where you are in the globe, but because of what you have searched before. If in the past couple of months you’ve Googled for things like symptoms of your illness, your name, or anything criminal, the results of what you’re searching for today might look completely different than if you have only been using the web to look at cat videos. Even if the keywords are the same.


12. Failure is to be expected, but only if we can learn from it. 

Ginger looking at charts
Failure is the easy bit. Failure is good for success. Failure is expected and accepted.
In order to learn from failures, however, we need data. We need to be consciously documenting every step of our action plan, so that we have some type of data to look at. This is where excel skills are put to use.
When you actually break down, don't get caught in an emotional turmoil. Instead of playing with your emotions, you need to devise an action plan. It’s okay to take a deep breath every once in a while, because when things are moving too fast, our vision can become blurred.
Have your project planning sheets ready and make notes of what you did and the results of your actions. Experts suggest using various productivity models that require you to have conversations with yourself:
⭐ The SSK or Stop, Start, Keep. Note what you should stop doing, what you need to start doing, and what you should keep doing. 
⭐ If you're not already using productivity tracking tools, take the time to learn one. There's plenty of ready-made spreadsheet templates to download and use in excel or in Google Docs. Use them to help you work smarter. 


13. We're inside "filter bubbles."


We used to think that people around the world were missing out educationally and socially because they didn’t have internet access. Well, now we have internet access and people are still missing out on opportunities.
We’re not more open-minded. The social media does not make us more open to other’s opinions. We’re still not accepting of changes, things that are different or new. And instead of interacting with people who are different from us, we’re still judging them. So what gives?
It turns out that the way the internet works is that it edits out things that aren’t “relevant” to us. The algorithms are designed to make sure that we’re only shown the Facebook posts, the articles, the Twitter ads, the stories that are similar to the ones we interact with on a daily basis.
It only feels like the internet is keeping us connected together, but that’s not what’s really going on. What’s happening is we’re not being exposed to a healthy flow of information. The internet is “self-censoring” that we are only shown things that are comfortable, non-threatening, and “important” to us.
So if we keep liking things that we like, without reading other point of views, we’re just spiralling backward and backward. According to Eli Pariser in his Ted Talk on the subject of “filter bubbles”, which he also elaborated in his book  📚 The Filter Bubble (2011), it was already the 1915 all over again.
So you know what we need to do, right? We need to burst our bubbles.
⭐ Talk to people who hold different views.
⭐ Use databases that are not influenced by our previous web searches, such as government libraries and websites.
⭐ React, correct, and object to things that we do not agree with, but also...
⭐ Seek credible information from both sides of the issue. 
⭐ Challenge ourselves with new ideas. 

A map of Ginger's home

And with that, we've reached the end of this post. Those were my list of 13 things I wish I had known before going the digital route. 
How about you?
What things would you like to know more about before going online? Let me know in the comments...

[Illustration by Icons 8 from Icons8]

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