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?
Please connect with Betsy via…
Love your post and I also see the world as I would like it to be rather than as it is. i see a world based on cooperation rather than competition and on love rather than fear. I really don’t understand the popularity of Twitter at all when all I see, for the most part, is the superficiality. Relationships lacking authenticity are not really relationships–they may be something, but they’re not relationships. Like you, I’m taking a test run, but I have not committed as yet. Thanks for a great post!
I hope I didn’t paint a picture of complaint and criticism. I’ve never met someone that I didn’t see good in. I hear you when you when you say you’re taking a test run. But I’ll answer you as I want to answer myself. Jump in and shine brightly. There are levels to authenticity if you ask me. The fearful and shy are authentically so!! Right? Not all of us are extroverts like the men in the video (above). But we all have a voice. The value of Twitter for me is its simplicity. I can quickly find a blog that interests me and then get to know the author over time. The work to that relationship strong is mine, Social media has taught me about me and what I value. If you value cooperation you’ll find opportunities to test your commitment to that. I’m amazed at how what I say and what I do don’t match a lot of the time. But I’m convinced that these “lessons” are everywhere, online and off. People just don’t see your process as clearly when you’re online as they do in real life. We have time to mull things over with no one watching or interrupting!
I searched Twitter for you. You must use a different name (?).
I wanted to read your stuff!
Have a happy day Sandra!
This is from the most recent blog soup:
Dare To Dream Big: From Illinois Slave to Renowned Educator by Sandra McLeod Humphrey
Sandra tells the story of Booker T. Washington, an American hero who rose from slavery to be an advisor to American presidents, a business leader, and a prominent educator.
I just followed the like to your blog. The one that Stan just posted. I read it and watched the video. I subscribed to your blog. What a gift to me! And you wrote a book, too!
Maybe you have a better link? I want that book. Hope sales are good!
Betsy, I have not commented on a post in a very long time. I got this in my inbox on waking this morning – and all I want to say is I hear you, feel you, and am really in love with this piece of writing. I look forward to connecting with you from the heart once again. Ps Stan….you to hun.xx
I was up 1/2 the night with James(3) and believe it or not I thought of you. I was wondering if Stacey struggles with living “wholeheartedly”? Does she have self-doubt? Has she conquered the monkeys yet!
When I think of you, Stacey, I think,” There’s a woman who speaks her mind and probably doesn’t lose a moment of sleep struggling with how she thinks others perceive her!”
When I wrote to Stan that was my underlying feeling, or struggle if you will. I think that there are some of us who just feel everything that everyone else is feeling and thinking.That gift works when I’m dancing, drawing, or writing a story of an ancestor. But it doesn’t turn off when I read the Twitter stream or comments on blogs! And there are times when it needs to be turned off so that I can focus.
Here’s an example of my dilemma:
When I go to the grocery store it’s to buy something. But I see people and if we make eye contact I might start a conversation if I have the time. Sometimes I don’t have the time so I don’t look into eyes for too long. I get what I need, pay for it and go home. But if there’s no hurry I can spend a lot of time meeting new people and chatting. It’s fun. (My husband and children don’t like it!)
But here’s the thing. Just because we had a great talk in the store doesn’t mean I’m going to get your phone number and invite you to my house to play. That kind of relationship is developed outside of the store.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you or the store. I just needed some milk and I knew you’d have some!
But I’ll tell you this much. When I get in my car to drive home, I’ll be thinking about you and your life. And I’ll wonder if our paths will cross again ’cause I want to know more.
Twitter is like the store. Facebook is the neighborhood. Klout is the awards ceremony. Your blog, even if you don’t think so, is your soul.
There must be a pill for people who think too much!
Happy day Stacey!!
I just got back, I couldn’t respond “off the cuff” this morning, so I gave your words time to simmer.. I came back and just finished reading it again (I am going to listen to the TED talk Stan mentioned, and the podcast you mentioned, with David Gallant).
But you know what? Stacey said it. “I hear you, I feel you”
~”…because being human is not a game.” ~That sums it up. I am like you (I think), I want so badly to do good. To make a difference.
But Betsy, I HAVE found people. People who feel as you do, as I do. Maybe not a huge amount, but more than I ever dreamed of “connecting” with. Living where I do, Betsy? This is a dream come true, a blessing.
I met you. You live so close to my mom and sister… I may have never met you. Sure, there are business and of course our professional business as very important reasons for being here, but the people!
The wonderful people I have learned so much from, been guided by, encouraged by.
I hope we don’t loose you. I hope I don’t loose you. If you give up, we all loose. Don’t give up on us, you share such light.
Yesterday, a young woman waited for a young man to return from work. There were tears, unanswered phone calls, and doubts. They hadn’t seen each other for two weeks. The relationship was over for all practical purposes. Shame, fear, and pride had seemingly prevailed; love was lost and winter was falling upon their hearts.
It was not for the lack of instant messages, email, phone calls, and sms-es.
“Why am I here?” she asked me with a broken voice.
“Because you love,” I answered.
“He doesn’t answer IM, email, his phone, or sms-es, what will it solve for me to speak with him?” she asked.
“You will tell him that you love him. You will tell him that you are sorry for what you have done. You will ask him for forgiveness. You will put yourself at his mercy and with certain inconvenience to you,” I answered.
“You will put your pride, arrogance, and convenience aside for love. You will embrace vulnerability and let your heart to be seen and felt. Because if you don’t do it now, you may never do it. And, then, you may never love. Not truly. Not truly and forever.”
“What if he doesn’t take me back?” she asked with new tears streaming down her face.
“At least you will have known what it was to love truly. Even for a few hours. And you will know what love is about the next time that it comes to you. If a next time must be, love will have a chance.”
What a wonderful coincidence that this happened yesterday evening as I was formatting Betsy’s guest post for publication. Of course, I don’t believe in coincidences. I can think of no better example of the inadequacy and trap of social tools used with guarded, convenient, and insincere signals of our humanity, interests, and aspirations.
I’m glad you’re back from your adventures for a while. I couldn’t agree more about the people. That’s why I’m still here. At 50 I still have a lot to offer, but even more to learn. It might sound like a cop-out, but I really do burn out from time to time. I put everything I have into whatever I’m doing and then I crash. It is a dream of mine to be slow and steady. The older I get the more the universe is making it so!
Honestly, a lot of people (well, some) talk about the negatives of social media. In the year that I’ve been using it my life has been enriched. For the first time in my adult life I’ve had no car to use. So I turned to Facebook and was thrilled to have so much fun so easily. But after a few months I could sense so much more going on beneath the surface. Of course! I felt like I was at a perpetual cocktail party! And I don’t drink!LOL!
So I started a blog to channel the creative urges I had. What was shocking to me then, but now I understand better, was the lack of engagement from people who KNEW me and loved me. They didn’t WANT to talk any deeper than they were. Or so I thought.
So, when I heard about Twitter I figure,”can’t get any more ‘surface’ than 140 characters. What’s to lose?”
I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven when I realized how many people were out there writing and talking about real stuff! I learned about openness and vulnerability and how Facebook isn’t really the platform for that. It can be used as a tool to get you to deeper stuff, but it’s mainly a tool to tell your friends and loved ones that you’re still alive and well, or not so much.
My problem is not with the tools or the people. It’s with my heart. I can’t help wanting to pick your brain! That’s a blessing and a curse. And I don’t want anyone to change! I never ever think that people are lazy or copping out or being superficial. I just don’t see things that way. But when someone walks in the room and you feel like somethings wrong but they say,”Nothing” in answer to “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” it is very frustrating. THAT’S what my problem is. That I can’t turn the urge to nurture off! LOL!
Long, Long, Long!,
Thank you Amber-Lee. You have a huge spirit!
When I really got into social I could see what worked for me was the engagement. I’m social by nature and this part I really liked. However, I was (and still am in many ways) a SM dummy. I have little use for analytics, measurement, site traffic, etc. Because of that this is why my only emphasis are the connections. The challenge is I might be spreading myself too thin so the connections aren’t as deep and meaningful as I would like. Having said that, I certainly hope you feel my connections with you have been ‘real’.
Everybody comes to a point in time in social as to whether all this time and effort is worth it. I too struggle with this but it always comes back to the connections and relationships; this is what keeps me going.
Social can be a very powerful platform and it’s a shame people are more worried about who is following who than real social ills. I read a similar post from Margie Clayman http://www.margieclayman.com/the-winds-of-change-are-blowing expressing similar sentiments.
I would say stay the course and let’s start using social for something meaningful and worthwhile.
Good to see you at Stan’s, he’s a good guy like that.
You KNOW you are real! You can’t help yourself!!I think I’m expressing a let down I feel about myself more than anything. It’s hard for me to figure things out. It takes time. But I see the Internet as a gift. At least it can be.
And to be completely honest, there are days, we all have them, when we just want to be silly and lighten things up. And I know my friends will understand that need, too.
My struggle is putting my time online to good use. There are some days that that will mean being social. Other days I’ll crave being involved in something meaningful. Either way, I’m grateful for the people who show up. ’cause you never know if that day is the worst one of my week, and you being there made all the difference!
Love you Bill!
Perhaps there is something in the air as I’ve been in a similar space the past month or so. While the store conversations are easy and fun, that’s not why I’m online, and as you so wisely suggested the store doesn’t feed my soul.
My soul wants real connection and that’s challenging in 140 characters. I’ve found the people I’ve gone further with, either meeting offline when possible or talking on phone or Skype, are the ones I feel more deeply connected to. Not a surprise really, but it’s easy to be seduced by first impressions, especially on Twitter and it takes time to sort through and find the keepers.
No answers here, just an understanding of what you’ve shared and a common desire to reach out.
I always love visiting you at your place! You have become one of my gems. Sorry I’ve been absent! I think it’s important to find your community and to work to help it thrive. Do I know how to do that? No. I know what it feels like though. When I get a call from a neighbor to spread the word about a husband’s neighbor who got in a car crash, broke his hip, and will be out of work for two months. And when another neighbor asks if one of my daughters can volunteer some babysitting so that the mom can work to cover their bills.And another friend arranges meals for them and asks the important questions like are their bills going to get paid? What about Christmas? That’s real community. I know that it’s possible online, but it’ll be different because we all live so far away from each other. But our tools and resources are better, too.
It’s an interesting conversation!
Wow! Betsy, this post means a lot to me! I used to work at a supermarket and I always cared about every single person that passed by my till. I surprised a lot of people by doing something so simple — truly caring about how their day was going! My “how are you?” was real. The funny thing is, there were still a lot of people who didn’t care.
I think the same happens in social media. We can try to engage deeply and fully with others, but there are still going to be those who are stuck in the habit of superficiality that they don’t seem to want to break barriers and go any further than that. This is what I imagine true vulnerability is like as you describe it, Stan. It’s about breaking down those barriers that we’ve built over time to reveal more of ourselves and let others in.
Betsy, I don’t have the answers either and I question as much as you do, but what makes me feel less lost and confused is that we can question together. =) Thanks so much for sharing your heart!
Samantha. you’re so cool!
Don’t you think that most people don’t even see the possibility? I know that I heard recently that a lot of people never thought it was appropriate to comment on a blog! So I try to remember that not everyone thinks like I do. They may feel shy. Same thing at the store. “Why is she talking to me? Is she flirting with me?” Still,I just go on my merry way and try not to let responses or lack of engagement get to me.
My real goal is how to make social media work for me. How would I build a community online that was not only fun but met the other social needs like service for instance?
Is that possible online. I really think that that’s where we’re headed because people do naturally group together and when boredom eventually sets in the group will search for something meaningful to be a part of.
Those are my thoughts! 🙂
Yeah! I think that’s exactly it, Betsy! Often people are so stuck in their own worlds that they forget about the value of community. That’s what’s been so amazing about living as an expat in Peru because there’s a real sense of unity where I live in the Andes and people are more willing to and at ease about talking to each other.
How crazy to think that others may find it inappropriate to comment. You’re so right that there could be a number of reasons people don’t reach out (e.g., misinterpretation, misunderstanding). In the end, I love your attitude re: “going on our merry way.” We can’t change others, right? So we go and search out the people who are willing to interact and grow friendships! =)
Betsy, aloha. That you speak from the heart, Betsy, is evident in every post you write; your passion flows into your work as I have said numerous times. Your comments too, reflect your heart and your desire for connection.
What each of us wants out of social media is as different as what we each wants out of life. To me, people online are very much the same as they are offline, the only difference being that they happen to be online as well.
People delight, amaze, frustrate and disappoint in both worlds. You may be looking for one thing when you go online yet the people you encounter are there for another reason. It is not a matter of right or wrong conduct, it is what meant to be for your respective purposes..
Betsy, if people are not as we want them to be, we have choices: we can either walk away from them or we can change our attitude/expectation of the person because it is not up to the person to change to suit us.
Depending on where you go and what you do in the offline world, you will find people as superficial as some of those online–the only difference is they take a lot more than 140 characters to do it which means they take more of your time.
Perhaps if you apply the Pareto Principle to online relationships, it will help. Figure that 20% of the people you meet/tweet or chat with have the potential to develop into more substantive relationships while the other 80% are as the ships passing through the night.
Betsy, have you taken the time to write out your plan for making a difference in the world? Do you know what you want your online interactions to be? Do you know what type of people you want to attract into your sphere? Betsy, since you have such strong feelings about this, if you have not already, I suggest you write out a blueprint for what you want to achieve through social media and the relationships you develop.
Thank you once again, Betsy, for this generous sharing of yourself. Hopefully, something I said will spark an aha moment and thus enable your social media efforts to give you what you want.
Thanks too, Betsy, for the link back to my post. Not only do I appreciate the link, I appreciate your heartfelt comments on my posts.
Wishing you a Magnificent Monday. Until next time, aloha. Janet
Excellent idea, Janet. It always helps to write things down. Doesn’t it? I will.
I appreciate how much you see what I need and never hesitate to offer help. You are one focused woman!
The very things I love about the Internet and which characterize its offspring, like social media are also the very things I can find a challenge and hugely frustrating at times.
I’m talking about things like speed and scope for instance. The very nature of these leads one to ‘the bigger and faster the better lie’. It’s no wonder that on the surface we perceive online relationships to be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to finding depth. How does one begin to find depth in what appears to such a shallow and fast moving context?
I don’t believe you can without finding yourself enormously frustrated. Rather one has to dive beyond the shallow and into the deep and then just be….
I never forget as a young boy of around 10yrs of age, listing who I believed all my best friends were to my Mother. It was an extensive list. My Mother smiled and asked, “Are you sure it’s possible to have so many best friends?”
At he time I was indignant at the suggestion that it was not possible. Later I realized she was quite right. I have limited time and energy so it’s impossible for everybody to be a best friend. All I can do is be who I truly am and the people with whom I am meant to commune with more deeply will come my way. We are attracted to each other naturally. These are the people who will stick regardless of whether you have re-tweeted their posts or not.
In my experience there are many reasons why people partake in social media and they don’t all want to pursue deep and meaningful interactions with me and that’s fine. I only have so much time which means to ensure quality there has to be less and those that aren’t a perfect match for me just come and go. And I let them.
I enjoyed reading your thought provoking post Betsy.
I’ve never had more than a few deep friendships at a time. And those are still strong, but distance and circumstance has made communication more infrequent. I think that’s because we are very secure in our relationship.
“All I can do is be who I truly am and the people with whom I am meant to commune with more deeply will come my way. We are attracted to each other naturally. These are the people who will stick regardless of whether you have re-tweeted their posts or not.”
I love getting to point where you both understand that the relationship is supportive in many ways, not just tweeting and /;liking”, both of which I do a lot because I want to show people that I care about what they’re doing.
I have a closely held belief born from experience that we are indeed guided to people who help us and from whom we receive whatever we need or want. Sometimes it takes while for the reason to show up. But you can’t force that kind of relationship. Can you? It’s either there or it isn’t. I try to pay attention to those promptings that tell me to “open my eyes”, as the song suggests.
People are gifts to each other, for friendship, love, service, business, community, all of the above, or possibly just one. I’m grateful for my portion!!
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