I sat down at Evo Conference (for women in social media) as good luck had it, next to Brene Brown (author of books about shame, inadequacy and perfectionism). She interviews people for part of her living and is so good at it I found myself spilling my guts to her (which I really needed to do right then). Sometimes I’m all about the fun but yesterday and today I’ve been in such deep thought that I miss my exits on the freeway and don’t notice for miles.
She asked me this question:
What do you love and what do you hate about social media?
I responded without hesitation – here is what I recall from our conversation:
Reasons I love social media:
- Social media is an adventure.
Social media is new and uncharted which makes for a great adventure.
- Social media is fun.
It’s fun to talk about and geek out on the incredible things you can do with social media. You can discover so much and offers entertainment but also enlightenment.
- Social media is my playground.
I love experimenting and seeing what others are doing with new tools and ways to approach social media. I can learn anything and find something about just about anyone.
- Social media is never boring.
You may beg to differ but to me social media is very engaging and so it keeps my attention. I get glimpses into brilliant minds, people’s lives and brands.
- Social media is a great challenge.
It’s an intellectual challenge to come up with social media campaigns and to keep current on everything. If you’re one of the first to figure things out when something is new you have a big advantage. Like my friend Jason Alba who was one of the first people to write a book about how to use LinkedIn to find a job.
- Social media connects me to people and communities.
This is a big one. We have a primal need to connect with other people. Your connections can lead to real and meaningful friendships. Research shows connecting with people online mimics the feelings of falling in love – which explains why many of us get so passionate when we talk about social media. I love belonging to a community.Online it’s easier to find and engage with like-minded people (something that can take months or years to do in real life.) I love it when someone reads my blog and calls me or emails me positive or constructive feedback, referrals, or kudos (thank you).
- Social media builds your own brand.
It was a trip when I realized that my blogging – just writing about what I loved – turned into something marketable. Real business. Real jobs. Real checks. No matter where I work or what I do I am building my personal brand. I started out about 5 years ago as an unknown. I’ve gained some recognition, respect and visibility on a national level which is again, quite meaningful to me.
5 Reasons I hate social media
- Social media can be overwhelming to keep up with.
Some aspect of everything you do will become outdated within weeks. Even though I love it and am fairly savvy I feel I cannot keep up. That guide I wrote – I have to constantly update it. Case in point: my book about online press releases references web sites and features that no longer exist.
- Social media web sites change in ways that can enhance or ruin your business.
Say your business or livelihood is based around something like say, a highly successful Facebook App. Facebook could change the rules and your revenue channel could dry up very quickly. Apple could deny that killer app you built. Google could change rankings so your first page listing goes to page 50 overnight and your income drops exponentially.
- People can ruin you personally or ruin your business.
While you sleep, are on an airplane or sick in bed someone can come up with something damaging that could take you down – before you have a chance to respond. It can be hard to respond and recover and it’s happening in a very public way. People can make up things about you to try to destroy you or your business. Your mistakes or ignorance can be used against you. Google doesn’t forget – it has a long memory.
- Social media makes it very easy to compare yourself to others and feel inadequate.
People are fond of saying something like this: if you’re not getting so many retweets or comments or followers on Twitter, you suck. You’re boring. You’re irreverent. This line of thinking has made me want to stop blogging and tweeting so many times. I start to judge myself by these numbers.Alternatively you can read someone’s blog or Facebook profile and see the speaking gigs they got, their sponsorships or about how well their book is selling. It can look like their life is charmed 24/7. It looks to you as if their husband/wife/kids are good looking, thin, smart and successful. Every dinner looks like it came out of a magazine spread. But as Brene points out: no one rides for free – every life has pain.
- People can be cruel.
Online it’s easy to attack and be anonymous (and take no responsibility for what you say or do). Brene says we could stop it if we all adopted a ZERO tolerance for cruelty on our sites. I’m an advocate of deleting comments that are cruel or that you want to retract. People can go after your writing, the way you parent, how you look, etc. This has also made me want to stop blogging or tweeting too. It can sting. The most cruel places can be online forums. Mom bloggers can be super competitive and hard on each other (which I don’t get since you’d think you’d be each others allies because being a parent is super challenging).The crazy thing is you don’t even need a computer or to ever access the internet to be affected by this. You don’t have a say in what is published about you. You can try to respond, try to remove or ignore it but it’s there. If it’s really bad and it’s true, good luck getting it removed. The more others agree, the more prominence that damaging information will have.
Even though I say I believe in being authentic and real it’s tough not to still want to be perfect. To be liked by all. But that is not authentic – not everyone will like you all the time. Brene says we try to be perfect to protect ourselves. We do it avoid being criticized or shamed. But if you are truly connected to others you will feel shame. You’re vulnerable to being hurt. Even though we don’t like these feelings, they are better than the alternative — not being connected.The true test of your authenticity comes when things are not going well. Can you maintain our authenticity? Do you have the courage to be imperfect and still worthy of being loved?
It turns out that one of the worst things we can do is to be successful is to be inauthentic. To pretend to be more successful than we actually are can make success elusive. Oprah producers Andrea Wishom and Jon Sinclair spoke about how tempting this is to do (I admit it – I’ve done it a lot). It usually means you burn out quickly. A big-name rapper (can’t recall name) did this. Then he stepped back and was more honest about where he was at the time. He went on to be much bigger. It’s so natural to do this. Resist, resist, resist.
The number of close friends we have is dropping. The number of people who live alone is rising. For all of our connecting, as a whole Americans are still fairly lonely.
So my question is – this is all so new. How is social media changing us and how will this affect our society long-term? Sure there is a lot to celebrate but how can we mitigate the harmful pieces?