To a certain extent, the digital media sector is by its very nature a youth-orientated world. Youngsters come into the industry from school, college and university, well-versed in all things techy, bashing out text messages at the speed of sound and completely au fait with the way things work. It’s vibrant, it’s exciting and it’s buzzing with enthusiasm. For me, however, it’s all a bit intimidating. Only a bit, though.
I’m old enough to remember Neil Armstrong walking on the moon long before Sting and The Police did and way before Elon Musk might. I can recall when the web was something a spider made, when Zoom was just an ice lolly and a cellphone was what you used when you called someone from inside a prison. Contrary to some people’s opinions, however, I DON’T remember rationing, the birth of the movie industry or the days when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
Being a little more on the, ahem, senior side, than my colleagues doesn’t mean I’m not ‘down with kids’. That’s not true, however, because anyone who actually says ‘down with the kids’ clearly isn’t down with anyone. I do have plenty of experience in my job, however, having been creating content for websites and other platforms almost since the very birth of the internet. Like all older people, sometimes I look around me and ask myself ‘How did I get here?’ How, indeed.
Count, rest, repeat…count, rest, repeat
In my previous pre-copywriter existence, I managed warehouses. Yes, my career really was as interesting as that. While many of my colleagues were studying hard at school, or spending their time not even being born yet, I was walking around with a clipboard counting beer crates, or roof tiles, or books, or bottles, or boxes. At one time, I had to count boxes of boxes on a daily basis. Riveting stuff.
The problem with such a rock and roll existence also turned out to be the solution for me. Once I’d counted the boxes, there was very little to do before I counted them again the next day. I could have wasted that intervening period by doodling on a scrap of paper or staring into space or trying to complete the Rubik’s cube. Well, in fact that’s exactly what I did do, but when I got bored with those activities I started to put pen to paper. Now, if you were born after 1990, you might not realise that a pen was something you wrote with and a piece of paper was something you wrote on. It’s hard now to imagine how antiquated life once was.
When the internet came along, I didn’t realise it but I was completely ready for it. The various pointless writings I’d been creating proved to be the perfect practice for creating web content, product descriptions, blog posts, press releases and more. Suddenly, having drifted from warehouse to warehouse in a career path that looked and seemed more like a garden path, I had something to offer. And there were so few copywriters around at the time so there was little or no competition. Happy days!
The end result of all this meandering is that I now find myself in an industry sector that’s more hip-hop and less hip op, a place where a browser isn’t someone looking through a shop window and where multimedia doesn’t mean having the TV and radio on at the same time. I’m enjoying the buzz that comes from working in such an inspirational atmosphere, surrounded by creative, talented (and younger) individuals. The main difference between me and them, in my opinion, is that I’m often tired at the end of the day and they’re not. I’m reminded of a great quote by US poet Ogden Nash: Middle age is when you’re sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn’t for you.
Yep. Well said, Ogden.