By Jason Snell
July 31, 2017 3:46 PM PT
Real relationships, real communities
One funny thing about being a person who lives on the cutting edge of technology: It means you’re always surrounded by people who don’t understand what you’re doing. I know that a lot of people get a rush from this—you’re in a privileged position over a bunch of people who are clueless—but it can be an awfully lonely place to be. As soon as I got a modem, I found friends online. But to everyone else in my life, those friendships weren’t real—and the time I measured as valuable time communing with my tribe, everyone else measured as solitary time away from reality.
That takeaway was exactly wrong. But people didn’t understand. They have gradually caught up, which is good, and our digital community-building tools have taken a quantum leap forward.
Still: there’s a lingering feeling that when you’re alone at your computer, you’re isolated. I honestly I have never felt that, not since I got that Hayes Smartmodem in 1983. Today I work at home, in my garage, and some people still ask me if I feel isolated.
Well, I don’t. First off, I live in a house with three other people (plus a cat and a dog!), so there’s plenty of physical action going on around me. But more than that, when I’m sitting at my desk, I am on Twitter talking to the world and on Slack talking to my colleagues and friends. When I record a podcast, I am talking to friends.
Don’t get me wrong—it’s extra fun to hang out when a bunch of us get together in person. But I don’t feel less of a “real” friend to these people because most of my daily interactions with them are plain text in Slack, with the occasional weekly voice call. It’s all real. It’s all good.
If I keep mentioning Slack, it’s because over the past couple of years, that app has eclipsed Twitter as my main means of staying in touch with my friends and colleagues. Twitter remains a good way to interact with the world at large, but it’s a public performance, and if I say anything on Twitter, it will almost certainly engender angry replies, dumb jokes, and more. I am much more careful and calculated with what I share on Twitter; on Slack, I can open up a lot more. Since I left my office job, Slack has been the channel that has allowed me to never feel remotely isolated.
A few months back, I opened up a Slack group for people who support my podcast network, The Incomparable. It was an experiment, but it has been quite successful as a way for us to chat about our common interests in a place that’s not quite the wildness of Twitter.
With that success, I decided that it was worth trying for members of Six Colors. And that’s why I’ve set up a Slack group exclusively for Six Colors Subscribers.
If you’ve never used Slack before, you’ve got a few options: You can use Slack in any web browser, and that works just fine. I prefer to use the Slack apps—they’re available for pretty much every platform, including Mac and iOS.
I can’t say what the Six Colors Subscriber Slack community will turn into. That depends on all of you. The funny thing about communities is that they create themselves. I can promise that Dan and I will be popping in and out and will join in the discussions, but I can also guarantee that the most interesting results of this group will be the interactions between all of you. Give it a try. I think it will be a lot of fun.