There’s an exceptional piece of writing in today’s The Sunday Times by columnist India Knight called ‘Facebook’s grieving chief shows the Internet can speak human’.
It refers to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent Facebook update following the death of her husband, David Goldberg. In it Sandberg shares her extreme grief and torturous last month at a time when she would have been forgiven for hiding away, for leaving her job, for never being seen in public again.
As Knight mentions, not only has Sandberg sparked a global discussion on grief and shown it’s acceptable to talk about it, she’s highlighted the more human side of the internet away from online attacks, trolls and Twitter abuse. An Internet where people share, care and support each other and discuss aspects of their life. Knight refers to it as Internet B.
The idea of Internet B made me think immediately of the blogging community. Sharing raw grief, cancer treatment, marital breakdown and survival. Sparking conversations, gaining support, showing life in all its colours. That’s what bloggers have been doing for years. Sharing, supporting, surviving. There’s a wealth of human experience out there. Perhaps we could go as far as saying bloggers created internet B.
But there’s something more.
While not everyone wants to share aspects of their life online, for those that do – like Sandberg last week – it offers readers a more rounded view of life and places a value on being real, not keeping the more difficult aspects of life out of view as if they don’t happen and can’t be talked about.
On the page before Knight’s column there’s an article on eating disorders. It makes reference to the perfectionist traits often seen in anorexics. And that’s the point here. By being real online and not being afraid of sharing the more difficult aspects of life, we’re being far more human than any magazine article that glosses over the truth and airbrushes out the parts we might not like.
We’re painting a far more realistic picture about life. We’re showing that no one is perfect and life isn’t perfect, so striving for perfection is pointless. We’re speaking human.
Long may Internet B continue. As for Sheryl Sandberg, I hope one day she is able to post online that she’s okay, that she has survived this trauma, that she has found her new normal. I hope her recent post isn’t the last we hear from her for a while and that she continues to update us all.
Internet B is here for her like it’s here for all of us.