How Business and Creativity Thrive When You Go Beyond the Online/Offline Divide

There are no barriers between the real world, the digital world, and the creative world Remember how there used to be was a wall between “real life” and our internet habits?

What's Online and Offline with the digital fourth wall has disappearedMaybe you had a blog you never talked about with friends.  Perhaps you used to feel like your connection to online business contacts was somehow different from your relationship to local clients and colleagues.

Those barriers and distinctions have all but vanished. And with the disappearance of the fourth wall between our online and offline lives, everything has gotten simultaneously more simple and more complicated.

We are both actors and spectators in the electronic and the terrestrial world. We can't go on believing that one space is make believe and the other reality and hope one has no influence upon the other.

When I first started asking questions about the way we performed in our digital and in our analog (read: real) lives, I was troubled that most people didn't seem invested in the topic. Finally, its time has come and we’re all thinking about what the phones and the social media presence is doing to our relationships, our work, and our creativity.

What Photos and Videos Offer… and What They Take Away

Last spring, when typing was nearly impossible thanks to the infant in my arms, I experimented a lot with video. Despite the low production value product, it was an important exercise in visibility and finding my voice in a time that might otherwise have been very insular and isolated.

Online and Offline Balance in Business, Life, and Family highlights the questions I was asking related to the future of Online Empowerment (which is having its own exciting new future without me), but I lay some much bigger questions on the table thanks to inspiration from David Amerland’s Semantic Search:

"Within a short time we will most probably stop thinking of it as 'online'. We will simply be connected all the time, everywhere, and the online world will be notable only by its absence when that connection breaks." Daviid Amerland Semantic Search

Forward thinking questions aside, it's worth noting that I have absolutely no memory of making that video. Was it mommy brain (see that I was holding a sweet faced girl who was still working to keep her head up!) or was it "photo-taking impairment effect"?

This NPR story talks about how capturing an image alters the quality of our memories and experiences is part of a bigger conversation going on about how cell phones are squelching creativity.

So, if our brains are being repatterned by our tech habits, what does that do to our business practices?

Livelihood: Thank Goodness We’re Not Digital Marketers!

At this point, we’re pretty much past the question of whether you can build a brand or a platform without social media (though it still gets asked).

Instead we’re seeing that online marketing is so ubiquitous that people are catching attention with headlines like Social Media Has Killed Consumer Trust.

According to Sensei Marketing, the “pendulum has swung back to traditional word of mouth and away from “the wisdom of crowds.’” That means we’re done using “likes” as barometers of quality and are re-dedicating ourselves to the tried and true “ask a friend” approach.

But as creative entrepreneurs, aren’t we “digital marketers”? We blog and tweet and sweat out our online visibility because we know it’s how we’ll grow a business and share our unique wisdom with those who need it most.

This is when we must remember we’re always going to rely on relationships and personal recommendations in a way that the digital marketing behemoths cannot. You are not Coke or Apple (thank the gods!). You are you, and that is so much more attractive to the individual clients you wish to reach.

By virtue of being a real person you are already bridging the real life/digital divide. Now, just be yourself.

Remember: that fourth wall between actor and audience, digital you and real people has fallen down - permanently. There has never been a better time to be a human being talking to another human being, regardless of whether it's face-to-face or over Facebook.

Message: How to Play Nice and Learn Something, Regardless of Medium

There’s a simple way to break down that final barrier between our online and offline consciousness: Stop believing there’s a difference between them. Lany Sullivan reminds us that the social side of media is not different from the social side of life.

That brings us to my favorite post of the week: Building up your swipe copy files: how to make the most of the B-school bombardment. Tanja Gardner of Crystal Clarity Copywriting makes the ultimate lemonade from the Marie Forleo-stamped lemons that will start filling our inboxes and newsfeeds.

Tanja's response - to watch and learn rather than grouse and delete - felt like a grounded, “real life” reaction to unwanted solicitation.  After all, when you meet someone at a networking meeting and they’re promoting something that doesn’t interest you, you can’t just roll your eyes and click delete or unsubscribe. Instead, you find a way to engage and find the point of connection (because really, the person pushing B School is probably still awesome even if she’s obviously motivated by a nice affiliate fee).

Everyday Creative Magic: Knowing When to Engage & When to Turn Within

Every breathing moment is part of our reality, regardless of whether we're glued to a screen or wholly entranced by a sunset, but we still need to protect the primal realms will forever resist hashtaggery.

Our creativity depends on quiet incubation time that can’t yet stand the light of day - or the glare of the screen. Jeffrey Davis offers this video on how to shape online and offline time to balance the “in the woods” and “in the sun” time.

The magic is in knowing when to look beyond the page and when to look within Sovereign StandardIf you’re in the flow and the BIG IDEAS are filling up the journal, please don’t stop writing. When you do emerge from your writer’s den, however, you don’t necessarily have to spread yourself thinner to show up on social media - unless you want to.  You have (at least) four choices about how to approach digital publishing and your online platform when you’re working on the bigger story.

And if you’re feeling like that private creative flow is elusive and you’re being drained by all the digital obligations and distractions, open yourself up to Nancy Seibel’s list of creativity boosters that don’t require a WiFi connection.

The “Problematizer”

One of my favorite college professors coined the term “problematizer” and generally used it to describe any person or idea that disrupted business as usual in Catholic Ireland. The problematizer tended to tip over a few sacred cows, and that's important to the Sovereign Standard ethos too - though we don't limit ourselves to topics in Irish studies!

For all this conscious examination of the online/offline continuum and the reality of both spheres, there are times we like using the online world as a wall to hide behind.

Scary Mommy boldly owns the truth: we use our devices to escape boring, painful situations. Maybe we're goofing off and spacing out. Often we're preoccupied with the phone because we just need to get some work done so we have a shot at cooking dinner instead of serving up another frozen pizza.

And sometimes, that’s gotta be OK too.

This is the second issue of the weekly curated publication, The Sovereign Standard. Get the next issues delivered to your inbox by signing up today.