This morning, I became a founding member of Medium.

Johnson Kee
Mar 23, 2017 · 4 min read

It all started when Ev Williams sent me an email.

He asked me to apply for the Medium Partner Program. I had just dropped off my daughter at kinder and was out with my wife at the shops. I made a mental note to go back and check it out.

Once coming back home, I was going to go through my daily writing routine when I noticed a new link in the drop-down under my face: “Become a Member”.

Having a quick read through it, it was a no-brainer. I signed up then and there.

The truth about Facebook, Instagram and news sites

I had an epiphany the other day: the reason why I was so tired was because of all the scrolling I was doing.

Think about it. Instagram, Facebook, virtually all news sites… their MO is to keep you on their website for as long as possible. That’s how they make their money. That’s what advertisers love — eyeballs.

The scrolling keeps us going. We do it and don’t even realise that we’re doing it. It’s like a gravitational force field. It sucks you in and it takes a lot of energy to escape.

All the while, your energy decreases. Why?

  • Facebook: everyone loves showing off exciting, happy lives, hiding the truth that they’re working a dead-end job and have been expiring for years.
  • Instagram: ditto Facebook.
  • News sites: if it bleeds, it leads. News sites know that bad news, news of terror, pain and controversy is what brings in the dosh. The bad news sucks us in, a gigantic, digital leech digging its teeth deep inside our nose and close to our brain, where we can’t extract it.

The bad news sucks us in, a gigantic, digital leech digging its teeth deep inside our nose and close to our brain, where we can’t extract it.

Medium isn’t the same

As soon as I signed up, there was a welcome article talking about what I was getting with my membership.

There was a sentence I highlighted. I wish I could have highlighted it 100 times. It’s for members only, so here’s the gist of it: premium Medium isn’t an endless feed.

This is what I see at the end of the list that’s been curated for me to read:

It isn’t about keeping us on the website or the app as long as possible. It’s about nourishing us by sharing stories from people of all walks of life. It’s about giving us the power to leave and come back, but only if the ideas we have been exposed to have merit.

It’s about giving us back our right to choose what we want to read online.

Medium isn’t like the others. That’s what Ev set out to do from Day 1. That’s why he made the huge call that raised eyebrows, doing a back flip on the revenue model he was initially going for for publishers.

From the beginning, Medium has just been about one thing: making sure the best ideas have a safe place to call home.

One that:

  • is free from advertisers and trolls,
  • fosters the subjective truth that resides in each of us,
  • provides the platform for the meekest voice to ring clear and true by amplifying it across the digital landscape.

By giving us ideas, Medium by extension is nurturing us and giving us hope that it’s not all about money.

Yes Medium has taken venture capital and has to find a way to pay back the faith of its backers, but Ev has chosen the road less traveled to do this. He had no obligation to. He could have stuck with the original plan, put in contextual ads everywhere which, let’s be honest, still stick out like sore thumbs, had an exit and splurged all his money on a tropical island somewhere.

But no, he values ideas. He values us, the readers. He’s putting us first. Who actually does that anymore?

What if there were no Medium tomorrow?

There would be no:

  • Community, arguably one of the best features of Medium.
  • Ecosystem of publications, opening our eyes to new perspectives from real people who work tirelessly to dig out stories we can’t find elsewhere.
  • Courage, to write and discover the inner writer that’s waiting to wake in every reader.

Perhaps saddest of all, there would be no more bold ideas. What goes to the top of the page belongs to the highest bidder and that isn’t necessarily what’s best for us.

Medium has a long way to go to become the promised world where powerful ideas are the currency of choice and advertisers hungry for impressions are exiled to gnash their teeth in the digital wilderness.

But by paying $5 a month, I’m doing my part to protect what rightly belongs to me: my privilege to read ideas untainted by ad dollars. If that matters to you, join me in signing up today.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

Johnson Kee

Written by

Human, father, writer. On my way.

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple.

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