Hello Byte family and fiends (no, that’s not a typo.)
To @dom and the rest of the Byte community, I have some thoughts and feelings I’d love to share with you.
Let’s start with a story. If it makes you uncomfortable, sorry? Transparency isn’t for everyone, but I firmly believe in always laying all my cards out on the table.
A few years ago my father died on New Year’s eve. The cancer was aggressive and he could only fight for a couple of months. I was devastated and numb. I’ve always been blessed with a creative spark, and making things has always helped me through difficult times. But this was different. The spark had been snuffed out. I couldn’t draw. Couldn’t make videos. Couldn’t write. And I couldn’t sleep. I’d lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, and a horrible movie of good (and mostly bad) memories would play out in my mind.
I’d go through Youtube on my phone and just let the videos wash over me. And that’s how I discovered Vine.
Now I can already hear the groans and rolling of eyes from some of you. I get it. Vine is dead. But back then it was a tool in saving my sanity.
I’d watch dozens of compilations. The weirder the better. And I’d finally laugh. And once I laughed…I could sleep. Guys like Jake Holland, @onkelchrispy @The_Ginger Thomas Sanders, Summer Mabrey and dozens more helped heal stinging wounds and injected a little bit of joy back into my life, 6 seconds at a time. And also, I was fascinated by just the idea of Vine. A place to express yourself? A challenge to get your idea out there as clearly and powerfully as possible in just a short amount of time? I was sold!
And then it was announced Vine died. Crap. It felt like I had discovered this amazing party just as the cops showed up.
Fast forward. I heard rumblings of Vine’s successor. And then the big day - Byte went public! I downloaded it first thing in the morning and I cannot fully express how wonderful it was. Here it was! The party I had been missing!
And over the course of 8 months (good grief, 8 months??), it has been a wild roller coaster. I have made some incredible friends. Friends I desperately wish I had growing up. For the first time in my entire life, I was connected to a community that seemed to value creativity and connection. And then…holy crap…they picked me to be a partner?? Seriously? Why in the world would they pick me when there are guys like @orange and @Snackteam and @senorpequenos on here? It didn’t make sense! It still doesn’t make sense to me. When I got the email asking me to join…I’m not sure I can fully articulate the feeling. It was sublime.
I can already feel that I’m losing some of you - so let me get to the point. Here are the main things I’ve learned over the past 8 months.
This app isn’t going to save you.
“No kidding,” you may be saying to yourself. “I don’t post for anyone else. I post for me.”
So did I.
But there’s no denying how good it feels to see those little numbers at the bottom of your videos climb. And there’s no denying how horrible it feels to have someone crap on your hard work. Even if it’s just one negative comment - the negative will always stand out in your head and heart.
“Ignore the haters! Just do you!”
Another fair argument. But if you get into the “game” of content creation, even if it is just you staring into a camera - it gets weird. The virtual starts to affect your reality, whether you want to admit it or not.
This app is just a tool. It’s a tool for self-expression and connecting with others. You get out of it what you put into it. And I’m at a point in my life where I feel it’s imbalanced. It’s taking more than I can give.
So it’s time for a break.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t some angry kid picking up his toys and leaving. The Byte partner program was a cool experience. It had its ups and downs. There were times I was more disappointed than happy.
The team could have handled it better and they know that. They’re moving onto new things and I hope they learn from their mistakes.
This app can be a beautiful thing, but at the moment it almost feels as if it’s about to eat itself. It’s searching for its identity. The app I joined months ago is, for the most part, gone.
And that’s ok. Seasons change. If you’re still the same person you were 10 years ago? You need mental help. Gen Z - please read that again. This app needs you and is desperate for your input and energy - but the things you like and feel now will change and evolve over time as you learn and grow. Be careful. Very careful. The things you are saying and deciding now won’t just affect you, but generations to come. And I’m not just talking about the huge, important, social changes you are fighting for (and believe me, I’m fighting for those too.) But it’s the little things you do every day. Every word out of your mouth and feeling in your heart is like a tiny piece of a mosaic that one day creates a bigger picture. When you look back on it…what will you have made?
I’m not quite sure how long my break will be. It’s needed. I will still make stuff. It’s in my very soul and to deny it would be to drive myself insane.
But I need to get out of my phone’s screen for a change. This app and community have brought healing into my heart. For that, I will always be grateful. But it’s time to get out and do some stuff in the real world too. This place is an escape for so many of you seeking connection and comfort, but you can’t hide from the world. It needs you.
I’m reminded of the (mostly good) novel and movie “Ready Player One” where it’s said “as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place that you can get a decent meal. Because reality is real.”
There are some folks I want to thank.
First - @dom
You don’t have an easy job, to say the least. Keep fighting for what you think is right, and don’t go a moment without letting your team know how important they are. I’ve told Michelle so many times that if there’s ever a spot for me at Byte I’d take it. I can’t code worth crap, but I’d bring you…coffee? Pet your cat? I’m rooting for you, man. Thank you for this gift that has helped so many people.
Also, Michelle on the Byte team,
You are amazing. Thank you for always listening and engaging with us. We will sing your praises into Valhalla.
You were the first real friend I made on the app. It is a crime you weren’t made a byte partner, but your creativity is too big for this place. You and @Stephy are some cool people and I really hope we can meet in real life one day.
Love you, you beautiful Psychic Stooge. You never cease to inspire me with your creativity and your generous heart.
My brother-in-arms. I have a feeling that you are just at the beginning of an incredible career. The world needs your creativity, kindness, and voice. Cannot wait to see what’s in store for you next!
Keep fighting, you crimson warrior. Your creative vision is so unique and it truly stands out in this world. We need it. Don’t stop. Rub Olive’s belly for me.
Thank you John for working so hard to make the byte partners feel loved, connected, and important. And thank you for always being a steady voice of reason and kindness in this community. You’re not only a hysterical and talented comedian, but also an incredible person (with an incredible taste in hats.)
And there are so many more I want to mention. If you don’t get an @ I’m sorry. You can still find me on Instagram and Twitter. And I’ll still hop on every now and then to like and comment.
I’m still cheering you on, Byte. Be wild. Be free. Be creative. Be kind.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
And just a little addendum.
Dig deep and examine why you’re making things. Why are you posting on this app?
If you’re doing it solely to either…
- get famous (Or infamous)
- get paid
- make people like you
- prove someone wrong
You will be left hollow inside.