Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

The Big Mirror

Here’s a little experiment you can do right now. When you reach the end of this paragraph, turn off your monitor. Really. Turn it off and give your eyes a minute to adjust and then look at the screen. What do you see?

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Back already? Did it work? If the light is right, and your monitor is a nice shiny CRT, what you should have seen is your own reflection.

I bring this up because it explains so much about the way we behave online. That mirror image of ourselves is always there when we stare at the computer. And we see ourselves in whatever we’re looking at.

I call this The Big Mirror and it might help explain why Steven Levy, a white guy, looks into his monitor and sees only white guys. At least, it’s the only explanation I can think of for how he might have missed all the fantastic blogging women out there. (I could go on and on and on.)

The Big Mirror also explains why pissed off angry people look into the web and see only pissed off angry people. Why sad depressives see sad depressives. And why boundless optimists see through a rose-colored monitor. We see ourselves – our fears and hopes and insecurities – everywhere we go.

That faint reflection of ourselves is always there, both literally and metaphorically. So the next time someone tells you about how everyone online is a freaky child molester, ask yourself, what do they see when they look in the mirror?


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Hi, I’m Derek. I make awesome community-centric web stuff. I sometimes post things to Flickr and Twitter. I’m mostly harmless. More.





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