A few years ago, during the brief time when I thought maybe I shouldn’t work in crafts and creativity and was instead working at a tech startup, I had the pleasure of having coffee with Alexandra Samuel. She’s a powerhouse thinker about social media – not in a slimy soc-med way, but in an intelligent, big-picture, empowering way.

She recently spoke at TEDxVictoria about why calling our offline life “real life” diminishes the legitimacy of our online experiences, contributions and relationships. I wish I’d been there to hear her speak, but the beauty of TED and YouTube is that we can all see her talk right here:

I used to apologize for my online life, much in the same way I’d shrug my shoulders and look away while I mumbled that for work I ran a crochet website. I stopped doing that a long time ago, and here’s why:

Through my online life – the relationships I’ve formed, the writing I’ve done, the ideas I’ve fleshed out, the things I’ve learned, the inspiration I’ve found – I developed my creative identity.

That’s no small feat, people. Before I got in touch with my creative side, I was a wreck. I was confused, depressed, directionless, self-conscious and generally lost. Not until I felt comfortable sharing my ideas in public, not until I met other people who felt (or had at some time felt) as confused as I did, not until I knew I had the freedom to try and fail and try and fail again, was I able to get in touch with what I need and want.

I found my people online, and that enabled me to find my people offline.

My whole life improved because of this. My offline relationships changed as I gained comfort and confidence. My ability to speak about my ideas in person benefited from my having fleshed those ideas out online. Running an online business informed my approach to doing business offline.

It’s all the same.

And as Alexandra says so well in her talk, not only does it undermine our personal experience to apologize for our online lives, it undermines the collective good that can can come from embracing online life as real life.

(My favourite of her ten points is #5. Which is yours?)