I’m home from an amazing conference on the Gold Coast where 500 bloggers, including a bevy of local and international speakers, motivated, strategised and shared all their knowledge to those eager to consume and be inspired. As part of the Problogger team, my role as ‘Happiness Creator’ allowed me to help foster a friendly, welcoming vibe, to mingle, to introduce, to connect people, to make new friends and to generally have a lot of laughs. As a result I am yet to see a lot of the sessions and content, but I look forward to consuming with earnest the recordings of these sessions over the coming weeks. As such, I don’t have any new pearls of wisdom to offer you about how to make your blog bigger, strategise your SEO, develop your design, accumulate advertising, stop procrastinating about podcasting or get a grip of Google+. What my role of happiness coordinator did allow me to do however, was to witness and reflect on the transference of the online world to the real world. To observe how the online world and all its connections, creations and conversations translate to real life face to face understanding and interaction.
As much of my work revolves around helping parents to understand the world through the eyes of their children, and in particular to gain an understanding and perspective of the online world, I thought I would share some of my observations as they were reflected in this weeks conference. Where the online worlds of 500 people collided with the real life face to face world that was PBevent 2014.
People are not always who they appear to be
When you meet people in real life, when you have only known or interacted with them online, sometimes they’re even better than you imagined they were, but sometimes, for whatever reason, they don’t live up to your expectations. And thats got to be ok. It’s never a good idea to rely solely on the avatar. We need our kids to take support, to learn from and to grow from the interactions they have online. But they can’t rely solely on those interactions to be their only source of social and emotional wellbeing. They need to be more than their likes and followers. We need their self esteem to come from pursuits and connections outside the social networks. Thats not to say they can’t thrive online and that they won’t meet amazing people and make lifelong friendships, they just need to know it’s not always exactly as it seems.
Disconnecting is OK, in fact its essential
Despite having a love of people, despite a love of the technology and of the interaction that both real life and online interaction offers, sometimes we all need space to disconnect. Be it a half hour walk around the block, some time out to take some photos of the beach, a sneaky nanna nap up in your room, a moment to collect your thoughts. Our kids too need to see the value in disconnecting. To spend time alone, to put away the technology and remember that in the words of speaker Matthew Michalevisz, the average human life is but half a second of the earths existence so far. So be present in the real life moments. Make sure we don’t waste that half a second.
Anything is possible
This is a different world our kids are growing up in. Advances in technology have created opportunities like never before. Darren Rowse said in his closing remarks “We live in amazing times. Where ordinary people are doing extraordinary things”. We need to help expose our kids to the opportunities of a world that has so much to offer, so many ways to succeed. Take a look around, see what others are achieving, see how people are pushing the boundaries, creating, inventing, reaching out to others, embracing the opportunities. The definition of success is different for everyone, so find what you need success to look like for you, and set about believing in your goals. Let our kids see that anything is possible.
If all else fails, just have a good ole belly laugh
Oh the power of humour. I teach parents to use a lot of humour with their kids. To always look for a funny side of a situation. To help them diffuse a potentially tumultuous daily task or defer a tantrum. We also need humour to help build resilience to respond to the haters, to deal with the egos, to remind ourselves to put things in perspective. As our kids will be spending large amounts of time online and will be exposed to literally a world of personality, values, attitudes and behaviours, then they will need a heavy dose of ‘something’ to help them move beyond the negativity. Humour can certainly play a very important role in that. I was so fortunate to have many belly laughs this weekend. You know the ones where your stomach muscles actually hurt? Yes, I’m looking at you Nathalie, Bianca and Kirsty.
I love that this weekend reinforced some of the most important elements of understanding, surviving, succeeding and just ‘being’ in both of these worlds. Essentially, our kids are growing up knowing only one world. The lines are harder to define. However we see it, and from wherever we are situated, for both ourselves and for our kids, lets continue to be the very best versions of ourselves that we can be, both online and in real life.