Overcoming a Fear of Social Media

I have a confession to make.

A deep, dark truth that keeps me up at night and sends my thoughts spiraling into madness…

Well, not really. But it’s still kind of an embarrassing thing to admit.

I’m afraid of social media.

That’s right. The posts, the shares, the likes. The ‘look how great my kid’s birthday party is! We hired magicians, fire-eaters and even elephants!’.

Oh dear god. I’m happy to make my son brain cupcakes and throw streamers around the room. Then I look at the pictures and seriously question my proficiency at adulting.

And yet, here I am, embarking on a path not only requiring me to have a social presence, but where the size of my social presence directly affects my marketability. *Facepalm*

Brain cupcakes >_>

So, I’ve forced the issue with myself in the way I make lists. Once I write something on my to-do list. That item is sacrosanct. It WILL be done. If I must stay up until three in the morning ironing the bedsheets, once it’s written on my list, I will do it, accepting any blood, sweat and tears (or burns) in the process.

My current to-do list goes something like this:

  • Edit chapter 22 and 23
  • Complete year-end AP aging report
  • Take out the garbage
  • DOMINATE SOCIAL MEDIA WITH AN EPIC WRITING BLOG!
  • Call mom

So, I’ve decided to embrace this path, and make it mine. (And cross it off my frigging list! Seriously, I’m haunted by un-crossed-off items.)

For those of you who share the same guilty introverted fear, I’d like to share a few tips that have made my path a little easier.

  • Realize how much fun it is.

Blogging offers an opportunity for a casual approach to writing unlike anything else. It lets me spill my hilarious silent rants into something people can see. Blogging has given me a platform to write about the things that occur to me day to day, when I wish I had someone to share them with but never do.

So dump your brain, and love it!

  • Use the resources.

I used to design web pages, back in the day of HTML coding. Good ol’ <img src=”this is my awesome image.gif”>. Imagine my horror when I log on with all my ancient expertise and realize it’s no longer really relevant. Well, damn.

So, to Google I ran, like everyone else in this techno-savvy world.

Personally, I used WordPress. It was pretty easy to set up, highly customizable, and gave me (I think) a very nice product.

There are tons of tools available. Find the one that works for you and run with it. It’s never been easier to develop an online presence.

  • Ignore what you don’t want to take part in.

A big part of my fear of social media stems from the drama it creates. I don’t want to get caught in the web of stalking each other’s social presence, taking everything said as a personal judgement. Watching this happen around me is why I got out of social media in the first place. Yes, living vicariously through Instagram is a thing. But it’s not the only thing.

I’ve realized that the part of social media that soured me so badly on the process is something that I can choose to pick up or not. I don’t need to keep track of everyone’s moment to moment status. I don’t need to look at perfect kid’s birthday parties I’ll never be able to afford. (An elephant??). I really can content myself with sticking to my circles of interest.

It’s a big world and it’s easy to get lost. Just make a meaningful commitment to your goal, maintain awareness of your own involvement, and you can make it exactly what you want it to be.

  • Time

There are horror stories of people who whittle away their lives on Facebook posts or browsing Pinterest. Not gonna lie, a week ago, I realized I’d been looking at funny pet memes with my daughter for two hours. TWO HOURS of kittens cuddling with ducks. It gets away from you.

I’ve found that setting your own rules can help. For example, no social media first thing in the morning. Focus on your morning routine before you open anything digital. Maybe say hi to someone who is living and breathing before looking at what your favorite band is up to. Work the rules into your life and find an integration that works for you, letting you balance everything you need.

Time will still get away from you sometimes. Don’t get me started on the black hole that is Wikipedia. How easy it is to just click on the next… interesting… thing… and then four hours later you’re reading about the coronation of King Richard I (Actually a true story. There was a procession to Westminster cathedral and everything). But, you can mitigate this with rules and self-awareness.

  • Privacy

In today’s age, this is a point that has stuck with me. How frightening to know that my employer might look at those old pictures of me from Anime North. (Er, yes, manager. I really did dress up as a boy and carry a sword bigger than I was. Yes… I still have the sword. And by the way, walking around with huge sharpie tattoos in the sun results in tattoo shaped tan lines. Who knew.)

Again, this comes down to choice. Before you post anything, really consider if it’s something you want your publisher to see. Or your husband. Or even your kids, once they get a bit older. Assume everyone will see everything and go from there.

I’m still working on my own social presence. It will be a journey. But, after a lot of soul searching, it’s become a journey I’m excited to walk.

I wonder sometimes if I’m the rarity, or if there are others who fight the same reluctance to open themselves online. Either way, it’s an interesting thing to think about. Let me know what your thoughts are, and if you have any other tips to fight your way through the fear.

And whatever your feelings about the series of tubes we call the internet, remember that some of us are still learning our way around.

Be gentle with us.

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