I'll be honest with you. The reason we decided to dedicate an issue to the power of online video is that we felt we urgently needed to learn more about this topic ourselves.
Being in charge of a print publication, I'm not a frequent producer or consumer of online video. I focus on the written word, through both reading and writing. I'm also a baby boomer who grew up learning mainly from books; movies and television were for entertainment—after I finished my homework.
Times have changed. Even though books (or e-books) and written articles are not going to go away anytime soon, we cannot deny the reality that most people, especially the younger generations, would rather watch a video than read a page of text.
Why is this so? In part, because the television/Internet/videogame generation grew up with so much visual stimulation that their brains simply aren't wired to focus on words alone.
But there is an additional reason that emerged as we interviewed the experts. Yes, video is revolutionizing the way we learn and communicate because it addresses different learning modalities by combining image (visual), sound (auditory), and movement (kinesthetic).
Yet the universal appeal of video sharing has to do with something even more fundamental: our hunger for authentic human connection. We yearn to see and hear other people's stories, because we recognize ourselves in them, and video has an uncanny capacity to amplify storytelling.
One of our deepest desires is to genuinely express ourselves. Why do we see an increased need for real and honest sharing? Perhaps because we have found that nothing less will satisfy us; because anything else is just plastic.
I remember when Chris and I recorded our first welcome video for Networking Times, he said, "Boy, this is hard. You can hide behind your writing, but you can't hide behind your video!"
Years of conditioning (seeking to look good, feeling not good enough, wanting to be perfect) have made it challenging for most of us to engage authentically in the moment, especially when that moment seems eternalized by a recording. To trust ourselves enough to be open to who we really are and how we come across on camera requires courage—and practice.
Authenticity (from auto-, self, and related to author, one who acts independently) is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures. It also refers to truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, and intentions. It is a tricky thing: we crave it, yet it scares us. Why?
Video is a Latin verb that means "I see." The relevance of your video message has to do with others seeing you for who you truly are. While it can be intimidating, this kind of public exposure is also tinged with a silent power called vulnerability. To fearlessly stand in that power, therein lies the magic of genuine human connection—and of online video.
JOSEPHINE GROSS, Ph.D. is cofounder and editor of Networking Times.