Is Social Media For Me?
by Betsy Cross
Erasure, Take a Chance on Me
Foreword by Stan Faryna
Of all the things that can own us, shame is the greatest of these. It stands in the way of opportunities, relationships, and self discovery. Shame counsels us to speak softly (or not at all) lest our ignorance become known to others, to enjoy the lawn from the sidewalk when we should be running across it barefoot, and, worst of all, to play our cards (or not play at all) or else.
Or else what?
Most of us have seen Brené Brown’s TED talk about vulnerability and whole-heartedness. If you haven’t seen it, you can see it here. Against your and my better instincts, Brown demonstrates that vulnerability is as beautiful and uplifting as it seems terrible.
If connection is what being human is most about as Brené Brown argues, we cannot connect without vulnerability. Brown explains in her TED talk: we have to let people see us, we have to be us, and we have to feel the feelings that we feel.
Betsy Cross is herself struggling with being vulnerable in social media. She also see others struggling with vulnerability. She observes the social media game of falsified connections, superficial engagement, and an underlying desperation for people to connect to other people. The underlying desperation to connect, she notices, is an apparent contradiction to the vast and immediate opportunities provided by the various social networks.
What’s up with that?!
The most obvious problem is the lack of vulnerability, transparency, and authenticity of even veteran social media professionals and influencers. The old guard teach new comers how to do online relationships in a manner that correlate to measurement, analytics, and infographics. But what passes for social media etiquette does not fully address peoples’ need for deeper connections. It doesn’t help people build things that last – neither life-long friendships nor online communities. Betsy is right when she questions standard social media process.
I am reminded of Emily Dickinson who wrote in a letter: Friends are my estate.
At the end of my days, if I shall compare online friendship to a million silvery ships passing at warp speed among the stars (a breathtaking sight to be sure), my estate will be as cold and barren as the terrible distance between the stars.
Although a newcomer to social media herself, Betsy embraces vulnerability and speaks whole-heartedly in this guest post. She’s worried that she doesn’t have all the answers. I am honored that she is doing it here on my blog.
Hers is an act of courage and vulnerability. She wanted very much not to take this step, but she did. And I am proud of her for doing so.
Thank you, Betsy.
15 October 2011
Is Social Media for Me?
Why am I doing social media when my world is upside down?
I want to make a difference in the world. I don’t want to just talk about my desire to do so. I want to engage people. I don’t want to game them. My heart wants so much more. I’m sitting here, reading, wandering, and wondering if I’m cut out for social media, blogging, and the next ten yards. On the other hand, I wonder if I’m online because it’s where I can do the most good. I’m not sure about that but I’m trying to keep an open mind. I don’t have as many answers as I would like to have, but I do have many questions.
I’m concerned that there is too much focus on getting the pat on the back as David Gallant talks about in NJAB Podcast 2.5. The question comes out like this: are these results worthwhile to us? Is that what social media is about – affirmations? Affirmations are wonderful and we do need them, but we all want more than affirmations.
I’ve engaged people honestly from the beginning and I don’t have any complaints about any of the people who have accepted me for who I am. I love the conversations that I’m building with wonderful people. But I was looking at Twitter, yesterday, and what I noticed the most is the superficial engagement. It’s what we have come to accept as appropriate behavior on the internet. But it would be somewhat unacceptable offline.
99% of the tweets will never be confused with a conversation between two or more people in the real world. The tweet is more like a bumper sticker on the car in front of you in traffic. It can be cute but it is not a conversation. Is this what klout is measuring as a signal for influence?!
People want friendship, they want to change the world, and they want to help others. I can see that. You can’t game it because being human is not a game. This is not me judging people. I believe that everyone is doing the best they can. Many, however, will not succeed in even having meaningful conversations and using social media to live more fully.
I’m an artist at heart and that gives me a different perspective. I see the world as it should and can be. A world that is full of love, light, and friendship. I see a world where people grow the light within them by sharing their spark with others. I know we have to work together to make specific things happen (like Nisha’s water project); this is how we will change the world. Or we will fail to make a difference. We need to work together on focused projects as Stan mentions in his blog post about online community. Do you see it? The depth that is lacking in most online relationships is not insurmountable.
I’m connecting to more and more people through the social web. Yet I find engaging them at a deeper level is a challenge that goes beyond my me and my efforts. As we all race to add more and more connections, we are less available to each other. Real engagement, as Yomar Lopez says on the NJAB Podcast, goes beyond reciprocity of tweets, links, comments, etc.
If we’re going to be friends, let’s be friends for life. Don’t take me out of your heart if I haven’t retweeted you three times this week!
In a recent blog post, Dino Dogan talks about the gaming of marketing. Stan Faryna has commented to me that it is a certain existential immaturity to focus predominantly on how to game business, online community, and connection. Such focus leads to unsustainable trends and a commitment to things that own us like Janet Callaway talks about in her recent blog post, Who Owns You. That’s the last thing we need more of – things that don’t fuel our light, our life, and our happiness.
I’ll give social media a little more time. But I can’t say I’ll be here for the long haul. Not unless I find more people that share my passion for change, community, friendship, and light. People like @girlygrizzly, @Nisha360, @carpathia16, and @yogizilla. I can name dozens of others, but they know who they are and how I feel about them.
I know also that I have to make a stronger effort to make deeper engagement with people. I’m going to do that. But if you feel the same way as I feel about engagement, friendship, and light, reach out to me in an email or from your blog post.
I need more than 140 characters! Friendship is bigger than that. So is engagement and social media. You know that. So what are we going to do about it?
About Betsy Cross
Betsy Cross strongly believes that we are all searching for happiness, peace, enlightenment, and connectivity. She also believes that our discovery will be richer as we link physically, emotionally and spiritually to our ancestors and their stories.
Blogging is how Betsy creates a legacy of personal history and story for future generations.
Recently on Betsy’s blog: What Are Friends For?
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