The Weird Way Digital Life is Forcing Us to be Better Humans

Sherry Horowitz
4 min readJun 1, 2022


As we move away from traditional, face-to-face interaction, digital interaction is creating cultural changes on a massive scale.

Photo by Jessica Yap on Unsplash

Much like the “mass resignation” was spurred by remote work during the pandemic, where people re-examined their work-life balance, there is another movement afoot in response to digital overload and it is actually forcing us to be kinder to each other.

Digital interaction creates distance, and a real-time delay, while face-to-face interaction is immediate.

In the early years of the web, this disconnect brought out some ugly human traits. Some of those traits still exist. Scams abound. Cyberbullying and hateful speech continue to be a problem. Standing out was more about posturing, peacocking and embellishing online personas.

Digital existence means we can no longer judge people quite the same way we used to. Without body language and tone, there is a disconnect and a lag before we know, like, and trust the people we interact with.

In response, people are trained to be sensitized to nuances and signals about human interaction, signals that are gleaned through the written word and a collection of online data points that build a reputation for a business or persona.

If advertising is the bellwether of commercial success, and how one successfully attracts customers, looking at the last 70 years of advertising you can see how traditional sales tactics have shifted to adapt to our online interaction.

Online commerce, advertising and marketing is a battle for attention. We are all clamoring to stand out with a unique selling proposition, unique product, or unique service if we are to attract anything.

Google SERP’s has made the digital market an impossibly crowded place because we cannot all squeeze onto the first page. Marketers who understood this adapted.

In 1999, Seth Godin wrote an influential book called Permission Marketing, which was in part, a response to overwhelm from the digital information dump. In Permission Marketing Godin describes why a humane way of relating to people will attract business. The style of hard selling and disruptive advertising would soon begin to dissipate.

Godin’s thinking inspired an entirely more nuanced and authentic way of relating to people online.

If Netflix is any indication of where the wind is blowing, we can look to them to see these sentiments in practice.

Currently, Netflix chooses to offer flat rate services, making them less reliant on advertising, but thereby freeing the customer from traditional style disruptive TV advertising. While I’m not privy to the details of their strategy, we can observe that large companies have opted for this kind of sentiment in their relationship with their customers.

Daniel Pink discusses the concept of information parity in his book “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.” Here is a quote from the book that addresses the idea:

“Today, buyers often have as much information as sellers, if not more. They can research products, read customer reviews, and compare prices with a few clicks. In this age of information parity, selling is no longer about pushing products; it’s about understanding needs, solving problems, and serving others in a genuine and empathetic way.”

This quote highlights how the balance of information has shifted in favor of buyers, thanks to the accessibility of information through technology. Pink emphasizes that effective selling in this new landscape requires a shift from a traditional sales-centric approach to a more customer-centric approach, where understanding and meeting customer needs become paramount.

Before the web, information was more guarded. Now it’s available for free and giving it away is a marketing standard that businesses use as a trail of breadcrumbs to spur organic traffic.

Customers have access to tons of information which makes them much more knowledgeable and selective. This makes them entirely more discerning and able to sniff out inauthenticity and fraud.

And, because they are subject to an exhaustive digital process of having to sift through information, people have become highly adept at weeding out phoniness.

With the rise of digital services, subscription business models have thrived as a result. Perhaps, in human terms, it turns out, long term relationships are just more valuable.

And, as customers we want to do business with companies that embody values we care about. At the core, these are interpersonal relationship fundamentals that men have valued since the dawn of time.

As a result, social media forces us to be more respectful and honest if we are to attract anything.

Youtube is now a means to building a devoted audience by giving away free information.

An organization of particular note using this method, is gaining a ton of traction, is called TheFutur (

Founder, Chris Do’s mission is to help a billion people support themselves doing what they love for a living. Chris’ wildly growing popularity is based on the principles of authenticity and providing value. This is his brand.

Chris’s mantra of “building your tribe based on your vibe” and “attracting what you project” is a form of personal branding that relies on the idea of organic, personal uniqueness. It also gets him 23 million hits on his IG shorts.

Like a snowflake or fingerprint, the personal brand is unique and compelling because it is yours and yours alone. And who you are really, really matters.

Authenticity is the not-so-new, new calling card for doing business and that means it is the primary matrix on which we relate.

If Google is the new mall of a zillion vendors and friends, what choice do we have but to be as unique as we possibly can?

And uniqueness must boil down to authenticity- meaning who you are based on integrity, trust and honesty. The question becomes, who would you rather do business with, let alone befriend, a decentralized avatar or real human being?

And so, forced to be what we actually are, is in essence, not only an economic must-have, it is actually a matter of survival.