Medium is My Chicken Soup for the Soul
The other day I was trying to explain to someone why I love Medium. How reading other people’s stories has helped me gain perspective and writing my own has been cathartic. The best way I could describe the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from this platform is it’s like a big, hearty bowl of chicken soup.
Then suddenly it dawned to me…
Medium is basically my adult version of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series.
Chicken Soup for the Soul is a collection of inspirational true stories and motivational essays about ordinary people’s lives: Disabled kids who beat the odds and competed in a marathon. Mothers who found their long-lost children after giving them up for adoption. Best friends who started a business together after working on a lemonade stand together as kids.
Even though I didn’t know these authors personally, I loved reading about their experiences, their challenges, aspirations, and life lessons. As I grew older, I found myself naturally gravitating towards other publications and media sources in a similar vein. Humans of New York. Los Angeles Affairs. Modern Love by the New York Times.
Eventually, I realized that I loved reading about other people’s stories so much, I had to share my own. I wanted to write about things that meant something to me. I wanted to write about navigating my career and relationships and life in Los Angeles as an Asian-American woman in her 20s. Mostly, I just wanted to write so I could figure myself out.
And what better place to do this than through Medium? A platform where millions of writers can write publicly or anonymously. They can write to persuade, to inform, to influence, to defend, to provide support and advice.
And readers …they can find knowledge and perspectives on just about any topic out there. Self-help, startups, science, technology, art, social issues — you name it, there’s probably an article out there that exists.
For me, Medium represented a place where I could organize my ideas and my innermost ramblings. What I didn’t expect was for it to become not only an outlet of self-expression, but wildly, an avenue for making real, meaningful connections.
When I first started this blog, I assumed my parents and maybe a handful of close friends would be the only ones interested in my mundane life. I never expected acquaintances — hell, complete strangers — to read and enjoy my sporadic posts about workout challenges, indie movies, and of course, my occasional millennial/quarter-life/existential crisis.
Thanks to Medium, I’ve stumbled upon so many interesting conversations and unexpected encounters. In fact, in the last two months….
I grew closer to an acquaintance who found solace in my writing.
I met a new friend who shared an interest and passion for film.
And most recently, I found myself accepting an invitation to a Thanksgiving party full of strangers (!!!).
All these random, new connections never would’ve happened if it weren’t for Medium. It got me thinking…what if more people shared what they have to say through this platform? What if more people used writing and blogging to share their experiences, their opinions, the stories of their lives?
Maybe pictures are worth a thousand words, but I’ve personally grown tired of seeing snapshot after snapshot of people’s highlight reels on Instagram. These days, I feel like everyone posts the same things (me included), and I find myself craving something more, something deeper.
I want connection. I want intimacy. I want an exchange of words and intentions and beliefs and emotion. I want to bounce my ideas off yours. I want to learn what makes you tick, what inspires you to get up in the morning, what you’ve gone through in your life that has shaped you into who you are… Not the outfit you wore to Coachella or where you got bottomless mimosas or how much you spent on alcohol at ARENA last Friday night.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with sharing the above tidbits. I get it. We all want to have a good time. We all want to capture that good time. We all want to prove to others we had a damn. good. time.
But where are the souls behind the smiles?
Where are the humans who are more than the filters they put on a photo, the likes and comments they accumulate on a post? Why have we, as a society, become so obsessed with metrics and showcasing the most perfect version of ourselves that we’ve somehow lost what we do best? (Hint: it’s not digital.)
On the cognitive level, humans are vastly different from most species. We have value systems, spiritual curiosity, and philosophical musings. We possess the capacity for language, invention, and art. We build skyscrapers, computers, and rocket ships for crying out loud. But what is at our core? What makes humans human?
I remember reading somewhere that we share almost 99% of our genetic make-up with chimpanzees. Like chimps, we form families and communities. We build systems that make sense for our survival. But there’s this important and distinct 1% that sets us apart. Humans have a self-awareness that leads them to ponder the greater mysteries of the universe and effect constant change. This self-awareness has led us to not only reflect upon ourselves, but also crave and pursue meaningful connections with other people.
As humans, we need to connect with others to feel alive and to find purpose in our lives.
When I compare my persona and conversations on Facebook/Instagram with the one I have through Medium, I can’t help but notice the difference. On the former, I divulge so much of my life — from what I eat, to where I work, to who I hang out with — yet I don’t really think people truly know me for me. On Medium, I feel like I can be myself. I can be vulnerable, I can be honest, I can be unfiltered, I can talk about literally whatever I want, without worrying about any kind of scrutiny from my peers. This is my own space.
One might argue that publishing on Medium invites the same, if not more judgment since you never know whose and how many eyeballs will glaze across your writing. True. At one point, I actually had ~10 posts sitting in my “Drafts” folder simply because I wasn’t sure if they were good enough to share. But for some reason, unlike a split-second picture taken and then curated on Instagram, I trust more in my words. I trust in my experiences and thoughts. Most of all, I trust that they can be of value to someone else.
Medium does not publish official user stats on its website, but according to US blogs, the platform had about 60 million monthly visitors back in 2016. Today, it has way more, but still nothing close to Instagram’s one billion monthly active users. Let me make this clear: I’m not here to bash Instagram or Facebook. I use and rely on both platforms heavily. However, I do think stories have taken a different shape in the digital age, one that is restricted by short captions and even shorter attention spans.
This past week, I went on the best blind date of my life because of Medium.
No, it wasn’t a romantic blind date. It was actually a platonic friend blind date. And it was so. much. better. than all the online dates I’ve ever gone on. Maybe because it was with another girl, so there was no pressure or need to impress.
Anyway, this stranger came across my Medium blog and read a piece I published about the LA metro. She told me she enjoyed it, and it made her re-evaluate her opinions on LA public transportation. From there, we started chatting, learning that we had quite a few things in common: both in our mid-20s, Asian-American, and working in entertainment.
Before I knew it, we were getting Korean galbitang on a rainy Wednesday and by the end of that dinner, she asked if I wanted to come to her Thanksgiving party since I wasn’t going back home this year.
The kind of heart-to-heart I had with her (and others that I have met via Medium) was so different from the daily chats I’ve had on other social media platforms. This one felt real. It felt genuine. And it reminded me of something I wrote before:
I’m still the happiest when I’ve written something from the heart and even happier when it leads to a meaningful conversation or connection. I have Medium to thank for keeping me grounded and true to myself.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for a lot of things. I’m thankful for my job, for my family and friends, for AMC Stubs A-List (sorry MoviePass, I jumped ship!), Reading for Kids, Hot 8 Yoga Studio, and the LA Metro. Most of all, I’m thankful for this incredible space which allows me to reflect on my gratitude. There’s nothing that warms the heart and soul quite like some chicken soup…
Happy Holidays, everyone! ❤