A lot of the work I’ve been doing recently has been focused around building an online life that is honest and real and human. The things I’ve been reading, and the podcasts I’ve been listening to are designed for small businesses, solo humans doing and making work on the internet (because, hey, that is what I’d love to do, too!) and they’ve all stressed the importance of just generally being an actual human.

It’s been validating and useful to know, but is something that’s not always so easy to put into practice.

Because our online self is usually a little different from our actual selves. We cherry pick those moments, take four or five (or six or seven) photographs before we choose the one to post. It’s set-dressed, edited and captioned to portray the best version of ourselves. That ‘best version’ might not be us, exactly, but it certainly says something about us and it comes from our very own heads, so there is some modicum of honesty in there (unless you are actually an AI Instagram influencer, but then I doubt that you’d be reading this).

It is so important, though, in among the bustle of online space, to find that thread of human, of the real you. Because from being human comes connection and, really, isn’t that why we’re here? To share our lives and ideas, to find inspiration and answers. Sometimes in the middle of other people’s excessively cherry-picked lives, though, we lose sight of that.

And, often, it’s because we haven’t found that connection yet that it feels difficult to be human in the first place. This is that ‘shouting into the ether’ syndrome (which is exactly what I thought Twitter was for the first three years I had an account) – everyone else seems to just be yelling into the void and so you, knowing only that direction, also yell into the void and then wonder why there isn’t any connection happening.

That’s where this ‘being a human’ thing comes in. Reach out to people in whatever way feels natural to you. Comment, like, message, retweet, quote tweet – say something worth listening to and conversation will come. Commenting ‘Nice pic, visit my profile?’ isn’t going to get you far, but adding something to the conversation might (I’d add here, don’t offer advice where it isn’t explicitly asked for. One of my ‘Rules of the Internet’). Message someone you admire. Watch and post stories. Ask questions. Share something personal in your captions.

Because, really, what are likes and follows without connection and engagement?

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