The Web Is the Real World Now


Stick a fork in me; I’m done. The fat lady has sung. I’m throwing in the towel and anything else I can find lying around. Any other clichés, consider them said. This personal war I’ve been waging against Web 2.0, social media and user-generated content is over.

I’ve finally seen the light and experienced an epiphany to end all epiphanies: The Web isn’t the problem; it’s the real world that’s messed up.

If you’re an Internet utopia denier like I was, forget all that negative contrarian stuff and take a fresh look at a new way of doing business. A new way of life. I’m sure you’ll come around, just as I have. “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” Halle-freakin-lujah.

Facebook is the real world.  

How much time have I wasted decrying the many hours a day a billion people waste on Facebook? How could I have been so wrong? How could I have not seen it? Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is the real world now. Our wives are all beautiful, our husbands brilliant, our children talented, our pets hilarious, and our home lives one impeccably framed picture after another.

What about the ROI? Where we’re going, we don’t need any ROI. We used to go out and do things together. Have dinners. Go to parties. Play sports. Hang out at each other’s homes and talk until the wee hours of the morning. What a waste of precious time and energy. Now we can do all that without getting up off the couch. You can even tweet to President Obama. Maybe he'll tweet back or follow you. OMG, no way!

It’s the digital economy – old metrics don’t apply.

Forget revenues and profits; the only things that matter are user growth and engagement. Besides, we can always monetize that later. Competition? Don’t be ridiculous. Our appetites for content, media and apps are insatiable. Demand will be infinitely elastic. Market share is irrelevant. Everyone’s a growth hacker now.

Never mind low productivity and workforce participation. It’s the gig economy. The sharing economy. The on-demand economy. Nobody needs a job anymore. If you need money, drive an Uber, rent a room on Airbnb or join a content mill. If you’re hungry, become a freegan and go dumpster diving. That’s the sustainable way to live.

GDP and debt ratios are so old school; those metrics don’t apply in the digital economy.

If you brand it, they will come.

In the early days of tech, “if you build it, they will come” applied. Then the market matured, competition took over, and that was that. But the almighty Web changed all that. Besides, nobody builds anything anymore. There are no products. We’re the products.

The personal branding prophet, Dan Schawbel, preached the gospel in “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.” And all the Millennials followed.

How could I have not seen it from the start? Selling yourself online is so easy. The barriers to entry are virtually nonexistent. All you need is a Mac (NASDAQ:AAPL), an IP address and a good imagination to come up with a unique virtual persona and boom, you’re an instant viral sensation.

Never mind that a billion virtual clones are all doing exactly the same thing. What about real differentiation or customer value? You don’t need to worry about all that nonsense. Have faith … and may the personal branding gods be with you.

We can all be Tony Robbins.

Down on your luck? No marketable skills or expertise? No worries! Just make up some inspirational stories that may or may not have happened to you, get an online certificate and become a life coach, a happiness coach, a performance coach or a leadership coach. It really doesn’t matter; they’re all the same.

Everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time, right? Just get online, find a few hundred inspirational quotes and pull them out as needed. Memorize a few parables and platitudes, while you’re at it. Blog and tweet that feel-good fluff like crazy. Write a book about how your morning routine and personal habits changed your life.

Become a LinkedIn Influencer (NASDAQ:LNKD). Sell seminars and classes online. Next thing you know, you’ll be self-publishing books and calling yourself a CEO, a serial entrepreneur, an investor, a leader, #1 best-selling author, an award winning keynote speaker, whatever sounds good. Everyone’s too distracted to verify that stuff anyway. Just do what everyone does and fake it ‘til you make it.

Don’t be an Internet utopia denier like I was. Forget reality; you can reinvent yourself as any anything you like online.