It’s funny. For years, I ran social media accounts for different clients without a problem. Yet when it comes to publishing something on my personal brand accounts, I freeze up. When I don’t have the veil of a brand in front of me, I usually end up deleting whatever I had drafted and forgetting the whole thing. I think it has something to do with the permanence of our digital era.
Traditionally, publishing content took months – even years – from conception to public consumption. Artists and writers would compose outlines, draft, sketch, revise and share with a close circle of trusted advisors, all the while making incremental changes and improvements to whatever it was they were planning to share. If you were to try that on social media, not only would your message likely be outdated by the time it was shared, but you would also sound impersonal which kind of defeats the purpose of this whole thing. People go on to social media to interact in a casual way. There is this pull between crafting a unique message and sharing thoughts as they happen, and I guess I normally fall somewhere in between. Unable to commit to either.
I know I’m not alone. There are other silent participants in online circles, following the updates of the people around them. Noticing the connections between different interactions. Wanting to be a part of it all, but just not able to step out of the shadows.
I worry about how what I write or say will change the way people think about me. Because truthfully, it will.
There’s definitely a component of perfectionism in this whole thing. If it’s not perfect, I can’t put it out there. But if it’s not authentic, I can’t put it out there either.
I think for most of us, the problem isn’t just online. I’m actually one of those weird introverts who puts on a pretty good extroverted mask when in group settings or when speaking in public, but then needs to go sit in a quiet room alone for three days after. OK, that’s a bit dramatic. I’m fully functional for those three days, but I prefer as much time alone in my own head as I can get.
Most of my social media posts are photos of other people, things I’ve noticed out in the world, or something someone else said. They are not of me, something I’ve created in this world, and not something I want to say. When I look at this legacy I’m sharing with the people who want to know me – my friends and family, colleagues, clients – it’s bland and TOTALLY. NOT. ME.
And you know what? I have something worth sharing with the world – or at least the people in the world who are interested in getting to know me. So do you. And the more we flex those sharing muscles, the stronger they will become.
I challenge myself (and the rest of you) to walk up to that group of strangers having a conversation and to contribute something to it. Don’t delete it. Don’t show up to the party, then hang out in the dark corner. Don’t sit on the sidelines of your life, watching the rest of the world live theirs.