An honest look at social media: observer to participant.

Until recently, I monitored social media but rarely engaged. I rarely liked or commented and hardly ever posted.

Even though I enjoyed watching other people post and hearing what was going on with them, I simultaneously felt that participating was not real communication. I was not a social media poster. I was one who wanted real connection with humans. Even when observing, it felt somehow a guilty pleasure. Not a good use of my time.

How many of us have been lost in the social media vortex seemingly unable to pull ourselves away? It feels awful, and I can make myself sick.

And I look up to people who don’t spend time on social media, or who spend very little. I also look up to those successful in a public-facing business without social media. If they can do it, surely I can, right? I want to be like those people!

Lately I have reversed this trend. Not for a genuine reason of participation, but rather, my business coach said I needed to be posting. Usually we decide on goals together. This time was different: you will post on Facebook and LinkedIn every day. Done.

I resisted. I was mad at her and I told her so after our meeting.

But my thoughts are shifting.

First, I realize that I have actually made good connections through social media. Maybe I haven’t met these people, but we get value from one another in ways that are real. Does it take away the need for me to have real human connection? No. But can it enhance my life to interact with people in healthy ways that I otherwise would never know existed? I think so, as long as I maintain boundaries.

Second, I can see how my sharing on social media adds value to other people’s lives just as their posting adds value to mine (sometimes, and if not then I scroll on by).

Third, while it may not be virtuous, some social media allows your stuff to get shared in crazy ways. I have only found this on twitter – but a simple post was shared by a bunch of strangers. I started feeling guilty about my giddiness over this phenomena. But why? Why not just enjoy it. To recognize it has nothing to do with me, but it is fun and something I can keep aiming for, again as long as it doesn’t take over some part of me that I don’t want to give up.

It’s still new. Sometimes I still dread feeling that I should share. While I am used to sharing via this blog, that’s different because I post this to a small corner of the internet that hardly anyone reads. Social media can feel more exposed.

If you engage with social media, why? What do you like and dislike? If you do not, why? What if you tried it?

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