On Medium and Ego
“Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.” – Sigmund Freud
Ever since Medium launched, I was intrigued by the idea of a blog platform that wasn’t centered on one’s own profile. At first, it wasn’t something that appealed to me – why would I want to write somewhere that didn’t inherently grow my own audience? As I saw more and more written here, a change started to occur in my thinking.
The basis of my friction with Medium was in my own ego.
On the internet, we’re constantly surrounded with and barraged by things that can boost or damage our ego, though mostly just things to bolster. With or without realizing it, we’re seeking out more followers, more likes, more comments, more page views, etc. etc. etc. to feed our ego. So with Medium, where there isn’t a public display of follower count (or at all), public likes on content, etc., the things that would face externally and ultimately stroke ego are missing. But my turning point in opinion is when I realized that’s actually the primary benefit of the platform.
This week I published my first work on Medium. It was a very personal story of a private struggle that ended up with a happy ending —something that wouldn’t quite fit on my current blog. Starting to type up the post, I noticed that everything that would normally impact my decisions within the post faded away and only the story remained. Aside from choosing a category, I didn’t associate any tags, nor did I hyper-optimize the URL for the greatest SEO benefit. Instead, I just put my thoughts into words on a screen in a very minimalist interface.
After publishing the piece, I was curious how it would be received, but for the first time I didn’t particularly care just how widespread it would go. Some recommendations of my piece by people using Medium began to flow in, and I could see some of those stats behind the scenes. But the number of recommendations was hidden to the public view. Alongside my photograph, which was the only part of the page that connected my work with my identity, there wasn’t a follower or subscriber count. Because none of that matters when you’re telling stories.
Medium is a level playing field for storytellers.
Aside from the recommendations on the home page of the site, the hierarchy is flat. I am no more, or less important than anyone else on the platform, and that matters in a big way. We’re free to tell our stories how we so choose, without the burden of the desire to stroke an ego. The best medicine for those who are constantly seeking that ego boost is that it’s not even possible with the platform — something incredibly refreshing.
This is when I realized that Medium is less a blogging platform, where ego plays a powerful role, and more so a publishing platform where the stories shine brighter than those telling them. I hope as the platform grows and the product evolves, it stays true to its ego-less beginnings.