Michael Ashcroft

September 14, 2021

Writing gives you access to the online game

There is an online game being played around you.

Photo by Lucas Santos on Unsplash

In this game people are making new friends, meeting up around the world, working on exciting projects and generally creating opportunities to change their lives radically, should they so wish. There is no central story line; it’s all side quests based on curiosity and relationships.

While everyone can observe the online game for free, participation has a cost. This cost isn’t financial, although a little money is required for access and tools. No, the online game uses ideas and attention as currency.

In business, though interestingly not in poker, the term ‘table stakes’ refers to the minimum requirements needed to participate in any arrangement, i.e. to play a game. When it comes to the online game, the table stakes are some thoughtful published work, usually written.

When someone reaches out to me online, the first thing I do is look for their personal website.

When I come across someone saying interesting things on Twitter, I check their bio, look for a personal website and scroll their feed for evidence of thoughtful tweets. Without one of those things I’m unlikely to follow.

When (online) friends mention or introduce me to a new person, they send me a link to their website or Twitter profile, both of which act as a kind of modern-day business card.

I spoke to someone yesterday who reached out to me via Twitter DM. She has no following, no website and just a few interesting tweets, but something about her vibe felt good. I happened to be in an open mood when I saw the DM, so we Zoomed.

But this move on her part, while audacious and successful on this occasion, is more likely than not to be met with radio silence. I have ignored many such requests. In this case I know from 45 minutes of discussion that she has great ideas and that she would be a fantastic player in the online game, but neither that truth nor my word are enough to give her a seat at the table.

She needs to make, publish and share. That’s level 1, which gives gives access to level 2 (make new online friends), which eventually unlocks level 3 (do fun things with online friends).

If you’re currently a non-player character of the online game, someone who reads and watches, and you want to become an active player, this is your next step: write sincerely, write earnestly, write prolifically.

And most importantly, share your writing to let the others find you.


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