Social Media Machine

Social Media Machine

As some of you may know, I only joined Facebook last September to engage in the private Facebook group for the School of Greatness Academy 8.0 class.  I also had no Instagram or Twitter at the time. I only had a long abandoned LinkedIn page.

I prided myself on not being part of a social media machine. I was satisfied to read, write, watch TV, go outside to experience the world without documenting it and catch up with friends and family via phone calls, text messages and emails.

I heard dramatic stories of social media drama and addiction. It seemed as if people were moving through the world with their heads cast downwards or upwards in a flattering angle.

I was never one for constantly wanting to be included in pictures. I took my fair share in the days before smartphones but it felt different–somehow more natural. Years ago, I was at a dinner with some friends and it seemed like we could barely enjoy the meal without constant picture taking. I respected everyone’s right to live and document their lives as they pleased so I was never overtly vocal about my discomfort. It was evident that I didn’t love it but I never wanted to ruin anyone’s fun. As I was driving home while they continued their impromptu photo shoot after dinner, I felt a sense of disconnect. Why was I so different?  Why did I even care?

The feelings passed as did the years. When I came to a crossroads last fall trying to decide if I was going to continue my graduate school education or get serious about my dedication to writing, I joined School of Greatness to learn more about goal-setting and pulled myself into a new world. It was apparent that I had been doing a little hiding, weirdly harboring a fear of judgment. I found, like with a lot of other things, you can strike a healthy balance. I slipped into the habit of  catching up with family and friends via scrolling, liking and commenting. It brought both a new sense of connection and disconnection. I experienced great joy seeing how members of both sides of my family and old friends had grown but it gave me a false sense of belief that I’ve really caught up. Unless I’ve had a conversation or seen you in the flesh, you may still seem two-dimensional to me. I have to take responsibility for my part in moving from the two into the three.

Although the realization of false connection rings true sometimes, I welcomed the wealth of opportunity and education that came with sharing my work, travel and the awe-inspiring events I’ve been able to attend. Before I started sharing myself and my work online, one of my greatest concerns was privacy. It still is because I have drawn a line about how much I want to share with the public, particularly with my marriage. I am a firm believer that some aspects of my life should be just for me (and my husband).

I have always been sensitive to the types of people I allow in my life. If someone is known for things like flirting with other people’s partners, lying, speaking to others in a patronizing manner or constantly talking about others for silly things like the kind of clothes they wear, I shut down immediately. Call it instinct, survival of the fittest, The Holy Spirit, intuition. It has served me well. I know they are people (just like me) who are carrying pain and insecurity within them and this is how they choose to relate to the world to avoid the healing work they have to do (Yes, I have watched more than my fair share of Iyanla: Fix My Life). I wish them well but from afar. I do not need to possibly sacrifice my mental health, my relationship and time to keep someone in my life for “their good moments.” I have learned that lesson.

On a positive note, opening myself up to all of those mediums of social media confirmed we are not alone more than ever for me. I see the struggle, the beauty, the triumph, the failures, the uplifting, the laughter, the teaching, the open gushing wounds of the hearts of millions of people. There is hiding and deception but the option not to do so is clear. There are connections and movements.  Even though I have wasted some time in the last year or so, there have been so many gains.. Maybe it’s because I knew the world before it, knew the world with it while I chose not to jump in or maybe it’s because I brought the wisdom of a grown woman to it.

There are no regrets. I have moved past fear to build this site and apply for a fellowship, share my work on these platforms and cheerlead for others on this journey along with me–the writers, the bloggers, the vegans, the wellness seekers, the psoriasis and PCOS warriors, small business owners, my fellow Greats who stepped out on faith to go after scary goals and other Black women who are often misrepresented as a monolith.

I will continue to embrace the mess of the world and carve out my own corner in it with all that is available to me. I will close with a haiku I wrote and posted a few months ago:

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Day 7

Definitely better than Day 6 but once I heard the rain against the window, I knew walking was out for this morning. After work, I was exhausted but I ate, drank water, relaxed by watching a movie and as it came to a close, I was determined to get right up and do a video. And that’s just what I did. I had a slight panic about getting a second workout in before my meeting with my writing group but I am knocking down excuses. I decided to leave early for the library where we were meeting. The grounds have a path and a small lake with water fountains. And then suddenly I didn’t care that it was raining. That’s why people make jackets and umbrellas. Besides it was not storming and a few raindrops never hurt anybody, did they?

I walked around, still a little sore from the video but excited to make my way into our writing group meeting. Meeting with these ladies (and one gentleman at times) rejuvenates me. It reminds me why I love the written word-whether I’m writing it or reading it. It also reminds me that I have so much to learn about the craft of writing. As I am writing this, I am hit with the memories of where I was last year-no blog, no writing group, no writing classes taken and no community of writers to count as friends. It almost makes me sad for the woman who stood in her own way. All I had to do was reach out despite the fear and the hesitation and be confident that someone would reach back.

But it wasn’t time because I didn’t make it time. I know now is the time for writing, connecting and committing to my craft, my community and my health. It is a time for being truly well.

Day 4

Day 4

The first day in this challenge with a schedule change. It was really Sleep-In Saturday for me. I didn’t want to leave the bed. Getting out of it was a struggle and as beautiful as it was outside today, I chose to let my body rest. I eventually got up and did another Afrifitness video. My husband and I had a signing we planned to go to for Arvat McClaine’s new book, When Black Women Speak the Universe Listens. I decided to wait until after the signing to get another workout in. In the meantime, I was able to fit in about half of my water intake for the day. As I am writing this, I still have the other half to go.

We thoroughly enjoyed the signing. It is always inspiring to watch a new author stand up and talk about his/her work, observe their nervous energy and then watch it fall away as they answer questions about their baby they’ve just birthed and are finally sharing with the world. I know my turn is coming. This challenge is teaching me I can build the discipline muscle to finish the works I have been writing and outlining for some time now. The fears I harbor about rejection don’t seem as daunting anymore.

After the signing, we walked downtown. I have been walking alone lately which I love but I always appreciate my husband’s company. Today taught me that I have to be ready for any schedule changes in completing this challenge. Adapt.

Stay tuned for Day 5!