(My) Truth about Social Media

by Starla J. King on March 2, 2011

It’s an interesting dilemma, this whole social media thing.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog posts, etc. etc.

Some days I’m all over it, thrilled to be connecting with every friend, colleague, and friend-of-a-friend’s- aunt’s-book agent’s-daughter.  Or dog.  (Yes, the canine kind.  yes.  I know.  I know.  But that doesn’t stop me from telling Carter how cute he is with his chewy bone or asking Bentley how his romp in the surf went).

And other days I’m just OVER it.

You might think that’s unwise of me to admit, particularly since social media is an essential part of my business toolkit, service offerings, and therefore LIVELIHOOD!  Maybe so… yet in this world of black and white, I think the gray (aka Truth) deserves more attention – even (especially??) in our work.

I actually love love LOVE and use and recommend using social media for: 

  • Its incredible power of easy, instant, and yes, even MEANINGFUL connection
  • DIRECT access to people who otherwise wouldn’t even sneeze at me (Martha Beck, anyone?)
  • Connectworking: forming relationships with people we enjoy, who share our values, and who GET (and even champion) the work we do.  
  • Playtime: the sheer delight of wordplay, written (typed) expression, the discovery of brilliant new phrasing and concept treats around every corner. 
  • Inspiration: there are so many amazing people and businesses out there — reach out to them, read their posts and tweets and manifestos to get jazzed about your OWN work

And it tires me.  It tires me when I get sucked into the vortex of numbers.  Numbers of friends or fans or tweeps or blog readers or subscribers — the number of people who are paying attention to me and/or my business.  

When the numbers matter too much, the connections change shape, morphing into a bid for attention rather than a genuine outreach for real interaction.

When the numbers matter too much, I am no longer honoring my own unique “voice,” as the words instead become a reflection of what I think others are interested in hearing.

When the numbers matter too much, I don’t matter enough.  You don’t matter enough.  Each individual connection doesn’t matter enough. 

It’s such a paradox, really. 

The set of tools that allows us to shine a clear bright light on our own unique talents, gifts and skills is the set of tools that so easily facilitates a molding of our gorgeous uniqueness into a glob of popular opinion and conformity.

And the set of tools I some days run from is exactly the set of tools that gives my creativity life and my words a place to sing, laugh, tease, inspire, soothe, dream, and MATTER.

Bindu Wiles, (a Buddhist writer, life coach, artist, amazing person with an “art saves lives” tattoo on her forearm) says it so perfectly in her blog post, “Is social media high school all over again?

The way you sell yourself short is that when you care so much about being noticed and popular and posing as some sort of something important etc, is that your most authentic creative work can’t come forth,and you can’t ever really know yourself.

The muse doesn’t give a hooey what the dominant paradigm thinks or wants and will not appear to you when your focus is not deeply and soley with yourself…

If you want to really rock your work, spend less time working the room and more time creating work that really serves.
— Bindu Wiles

AMEN! 

But wait… if I truly want to make a profound, far-reaching difference, people need to know I’m here.  People need to know my inspiration, my determination to serve through my work and to offer person after person the transformative power of writing and words and self-discovery and self-expression.

And social media gives me – and you — the (free!! effective!! powerful!!) tools to do that. 

Until I get sucked into the vortex of numbers.

Yeah.  Gray area, bigtime.

My answer?  Pay attention.  Pay attention to what your gut tells you.  Yes, even in your business, your marketing, your PR:

  • If that free-flow delight of communication starts feeling forced — pay attention. 
  • If that quiet voice in your head starts whispering that the numbers show nobody cares what you’re saying — pay attention.
  • If your muse (that energizing fire within) is silent or whimpering or distraught – pay attention.

… then act accordingly.  YOUR definition of accordingly.  You see, we are all still trying to figure this out.

It’s an interesting dilemma, this whole social media thing.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Fay Jacobs March 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Great work…..I feel so conflicted too…gotta use it, hope it’s not sucking the air out of my mind. How much to say? What not to say? What do people think of the things I do say? It’s a mess.
But it’s here and I think we gotta play.

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Starla J. King March 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Thanks, Fay! I love your brilliant summary of this post… and sooo agree that “it’s here and we gotta play.”

Here’s to staying true to ourselves and those muses of ours.

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Mary March 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Very well said. This feels like it is from the soul.

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Starla J. King March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Thank you Mary! You felt that right — totally from the soul.

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AreWeOk March 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Starla,
You have put your finger on something very important here. I too have struggled with these same issues when writing and feel that I lose my authentic voice when I’m too concerned about how my writing will be viewed, or when I feel that I’m writing for someone else. I manage my professional (day job) blog, linkedin and twitter accounts one way and keep them a little vanilla, but I use AreWeOk to really speak from the heart and that’s where my truth lies with all its joy, pain, and struggle. Thanks for bringing light to something many of us deal with on a daily basis. ~AreWeOk

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Starla J. King March 2, 2011 at 6:24 pm

AreWeOk, So interesting that you bring up the professional writing vs. personal writing (which, btw, readers, if you haven’t check out her blog, click on her name here to go to it!).

I’m currently in the process of deciding how much of my personal blogging I can start combining with my business blogging here at OutWrite Living. This post, in fact, came out of a desire to bring even more REAL and ME and my passions into this OutWrite Living space.

It really is a fine — and very personal — balance, isn’t it?

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Gabrielle Fox March 3, 2011 at 12:06 am

I can totally relate to the high school aspect of social media. It’s a temptation for me to compare myself to others… and when I find myself doing that, I have to stop and take a break. It’s easy to lose myself and I really want to be coming from an authentic place. Great blog post!

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Starla J. King March 3, 2011 at 10:59 am

“It’s easy to lose myself” — So true, Gabrielle, for all of us. And sometimes the answer is simply to “stop and take a break” … and go do whatever it is that’s your authentic YOU. Go take your brilliant photos. On your own. Just for you.

Then step back into the fray and share that gift.

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Lorin March 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

Starla, great blog post! Ah the paradox of creating success with this new powerful tool that recently changed a country…. caused a revolution… but why? Because it was used as a TOOL…. and just that. A great cause was being spoken to just using the tool…. so what can we do with this tool? How to best use it? Authentically like everything else… and that matters…. numbers matter in the form of knowing our reach…. and hopefully we respect those numbers. Starla, you ARE a thought leader! Thank you for your insight!

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Starla J. King March 3, 2011 at 11:01 am

Yes, Lorin, a tool… and JUST THAT. It’s so easy to ride the wave out there instead of being INTENTIONAL. Once again, intentionality is really the key, isn’t it?? Because yes, I agree with you, we do still need to respect those numbers. But not bow down to them.

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