Once in a Lifetime

3632962623_1bab7ccb9f_mOne of my favorite Talking Heads songs is Once in a Lifetime. Lately this stanza has been resonating:

You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead to?
You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong?
You may say to yourself, my god, what have I done?

This encapsulates my social media existence in a nutshell.

That beautiful house

Thanks to the online world, I have met some pretty amazing people, and by met I don’t just mean online. I mean I’ve gotten to talk to them face to face. I’ve gotten to talk to Angela Daffron, for example, the woman behind Jodi’s Voice. I’ve gotten to talk to authors of books that I’ve read and I’ve even gotten to hug a few of those authors.

Every day, I’m embarrassed to say, people say the kindest possible things to me. They tell me I make them smile. They thank me for doing things that most people in the “real” world would not have noticed. It is through social media that I was able to co-found Homespun Helpers and then bring it back again this year. Social Media is behind the Blankies for Boston love-miracle that is happening on Facebook right now. I can talk about anything with the people I’m connected with, from television shows to religion to politics, and more. It’s sort of like a Utopia when you think about it that way.

The mysterious highway

The weird thing about my social media journey is that I seem to be on a highway I never wanted to travel. I have felt a palpable pressure to “take it to the next level” for my own self for the last 2 years or so. Other people have certainly done it. People who were new with me, who lamented the granite ceiling that crushed out new voices, have now skyrocketed past me in the game. They’ve written books, spoken at events, and have turned their social media work into jobs. I could have traveled that highway, I suppose. I still could, I guess. But it’s not what I wanted to do online.

I thought maybe if I got a following online I could help make the world better. You didn’t know I was a Pollyanna, did you? But that was my promise to myself from the start. “If I get a following, I’m going to use that power, such as it is, to do good.” It’s a catch-22 though, of course. The more you want to really make an impact, the more you need to build your following. The more you need to play the game. I am perpetually asking myself, “How much of my soul would I sell to be able to reach more people with messages I feel are important?” These messages are important to me, as a person. My online work for my professional career I view as separate. Tied to me as an individual, but separate.

Right or wrong?

I have always been outspoken when I feel things are wrong. I was that way long before social media came into my life. When I was in grade school I saw people bullying a kid, and I told them to stop. When I was in graduate school a professor had us make fun of our friends’ papers. When it came to be my turn I told him I refused. His face turned a very festive cherry red and he stepped out of the room. He took his vengeance on me during my thesis defense a year later. In the online world, I carry this trait with me. I do not like to see people hurt. I do not like to see people misled. But in the online world things seem so much more complicated.

On the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, I admonished people for having their automated tweets continue. I did this with the intention of trying to prevent them from facing more mean criticism from other people. I didn’t want people to look bad just because they didn’t know “the etiquette.” I was corrected though, by my friend Raul Colon. There are always bad things happening in the world. Why should the world stop when something bad happens in the US? Darned tootin. In my effort to be right, I was wrong. I worry I do this a lot. How did I get into a position where I feel responsible for people I talk to? I never wanted that.

My god, what have I done?

When I started blogging, my blog site was ladybugnotes.blogspot.com. I tried to tie a social media persona into my professional work and decided to start tweeting as RealLifeMadMan. Neither of these ideas were good. They seem laughable now. But I shuddered at the idea of having a me.com website. I didn’t want to ever have to say, “I have xyz followers.” How can you say or do either of those things and not feel like a narcissistic d-bag? Yet here I am. I’m writing this post at MargieClayman.com. I’ll post it to Twitter via my handle, which is my name. And I laugh at the surrealism inherent in saying that x many people “follow me.” I will never feel unweird about that.

In making my social media presence about me, I have strayed away from everything I really wanted to do online, and I have wandered into territory that I never wanted to explore. The murky world of people pretending to be things they are not, the unfortunate terror that occurs when the online world impacts someone’s real life, real family, or real job. I never thought I would worry about people I barely know. I never thought I’d be mediating online fights amongst people who are older than me and far more successful, depending on how you use that word. I wanted to be out here as a professional and as a do-gooder. That was it.

I’ve become, I fear, what I shuddered at when I first started.

I am not comfortable in my social media skin. I have not been for about two years now. I long, many times, to just go off the grid and only work as our agency or for our clients. I want to disappear from the online world and remember how I used to spend my time. I have projects I want to work on. And yet, just this week people posted things to Facebook that nobody else was sharing or commenting on. Causes that were near and dear to their hearts. That’s become one of my roles, I guess. Sharing things that are important to individuals but maybe not as important for EdgeRank or Retweets. Letting someone know I see what they’re doing – that’s important to me. How can I abandon stuff like that? Or does it even matter, really? Maybe if I let the posts go without shares other people will just pick them up. Would it really matter in the end? What am I to those people whose information I share?

You tell me what the next stanza of this song is. Are you singing it too?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nonoq8/3632962623 via Creative Commons

 

6 comments
NancyCawleyJean
NancyCawleyJean

Margie I so hope we get a chance to meet in person. From your song choices (I am in awe of the Talking Heads song leading to this fab post!), to an Emily Dickinson reference (always my fave poet) in a previous post, to your reading lists and struggle with what to do in social media, wow do we have lots in common!! I so enjoyed reading this and I find myself agonizing with you!!! I've said before that you are inspiring. You simply are. No matter what you choose to do it how you choose to do it, you are making a difference for many people.

AlaskaChickBlog
AlaskaChickBlog like.author.displayName 1 Like

If not you, then who? If not now, when? Will someone else actually care? Will someone else say, "I see you"? Will someone else notice if I am crying out for help? Advice? Or simply a hand?

I love you Margie. That is all.

KDillabough
KDillabough like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I relate to so much of what you share here, and yet...here we are:) I truly love the people I've connected with, and feel very fortunate also with the wonderful things they say and share with me. Yes, there are days when I wonder "what's it all about alfie", or in the words that Bill Dorman and I have shared: "what am I...chopped liver?"That's why taking breaks - both long and short - are so perspective gaining. As you know, I've gone through a tad of a rough patch lately, and you were the first to offer up a blog post - unsolicited - to help me out. For that I'm so grateful. Three others quickly followed suit. I cannot measure the value and impact that had/has on me.

 

The paths we've created do not necessarily lead to the paths we'll carve. It's a crazy, fickle, fun, rewarding, frustrating world, this online world. Like everything in life, I think we need to stay vigilant about its purpose in our life, and the lives we wish to touch. No easy answers. Cheers! Kaarina

Faryna
Faryna

If you can do more good doing something else (occasionally or frequently), don't let social media distract you.

 

On the other hand, too many of us spend more time than we should (or need to) spend on the internets. If you find yourself in that situation where you can't go a four hours without checking your "inbox" (email or otherwise), that's a personal problem. Been there and done that - more often than I want to admit. 

 

[hug]

RaulColon
RaulColon

 @margieclayman I am not sure that you where wrong. What happened in Boston was a tragedy and humans should not hurt others. You care about people in a way that makes you want to feel compassion and want to make it better. Your intentions where good and always have been. 

 

On my side just last Sunday a few individuals had a shooting 50 feet away from our entrance into our building. The sad part is that this is one of the supposedly safest áreas on the Island. We have some horrible tragedies many tied to the strange relationship which we hold with the U.S. and how this becomes a hub for drugs etc. We see tragedies locally and we have to move forward is the only way where we can make it less relevant for those that want attention by causing harm. I can only hope people who did not loose their lives but where hurt in Boston recover quickly. 

 

Thanks for the mention! 

 

 

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

Nine years of blogging. Nine years of social media. I can't say I have done and seen it all, but I have done enough to have had my share of highs and lows.

 

I just view this as a journey and do my best to be thankful for the friends I have made, the work I have gotten and the things I have learned.

 

Sometimes the best way to find your comfort level is to stop looking and let it come.

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