The upside of online


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Penny Louw

Do you ever look at your life and feel amazed at where you ended up in life? It happens to me all the time. I wonder what that skinny, clumsy little kid, 8-year-old Penny, would have thought about how life has unfolded. No, I didn’t become a mathematician. No, I never got to meet Donny Osmond. No, I didn’t ever finish the fairy tale I started writing when I was 11 with my best friend Claire. I love the picture above of Claire and I with our budgies and our beloved music teacher, Sister Honorabilis.
But I do not think that skinny kid could ever have imagined how rich my life would become. That Claire would still be such a close friend after almost 50 years. That I would have travelled so widely, had two amazing children and done such a wide variety of jobs. That every single experience was leading me to this moment, to doing the unthinkable, publishing online courses for experts, and telling my story online.
Let’s be clear. Online is a scary place. The rules that we grew up with hold no sway here. That’s the charm and the downside all at the same time. I feel sad about an online community who feel competitive. The need to be seen on Facebook and Instagram, always smiling and having fun. The pressure to appear perfect can only be destructive.
But what if the online space was one of sharing and mutual support? What if we used this miraculous resource only for good? Could that undo the damage done by trolls and avaricious businesses trying to control the way we think and behave, for their own benefit? I don’t know the answer to that. But it is certainly worth a try.
Let’s have the courage to have fun online. It’s exciting to feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And when I look at the first course we have published, Lesley Beake on writing for children, I feel awed. Her material is exactly the kind of course that we had in mind when we first envisaged this dream. It’s clever, funny, nurturing and inspiring.
It is the upside of online.

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