I started on social media, before it was even called ‘social media’ back in 1995, on a simple international online chat service, called mIRC. It was so exciting to talk to people from other countries, share graphic memes, jokes and debates online, with smart people from around the world. You could say I was instantly hooked.
From there, I ventured into virtual worlds. Places where I could play online MMORPG games, and socialize with online players. I spent a lot of my time on the computer, and ran an essay and resume writing service throughout college and University to supplement my income. I cringe a little bit now morally, on the whole essay writing aspect. But if they got an A on the paper, I got a bonus, and it was lucrative work that helped me pay cash for the six years of post-secondary education I received.
I didn’t spend it on beer, it was for books. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Commuting and running small businesses, studying and working didn’t leave a lot of time for me to socialize face to face. My nuclear family was in disarray, and the exhaustion from dramatics and discord helped me feel more comfortable socializing online. So when someone I meet on LinkedIn tells me they are a community management expert, because they’ve been on social media since 2009, I kind of chuckle a little in my head. Awesome! Dude, I’m the Neil Hamilton of online conversation. And I still love it.
Moving out of country over three years ago, meant leaving behind a lot of people who love me. I dwell on the negative aspects of my parents too frequently (something I am working aggressively on). But the truth is, there are plenty of people who love me both in the Toronto area, and in other countries, who I’ve formulated very close bonds with. When I left, my biggest fear was becoming ‘that family member’ who moved far away, and stopped caring and participating with those she loved the most. I could never forget them, but I wanted to find a way to share my life and adventures here in Texas, that would continue to nurture our relationships, and allow me to participate in their lives as best I could, remotely.
My mentor likes to joke that I ‘talk too much’ and she usually says it with a smirk. She’s probably right. But when you run a small business by yourself, aside from the multitude of business related video Skype’s, Zoom meetings and telephone calls, I haven’t had much time to socially just sit and talk with people, since I moved here. And because I am an extroverted kind of personality (one that loves people, and listening and having fun), I’ve been conducting myself in a way that allows to me to have some semblance of the social life that I had in Toronto. Sure, I can’t grab Rahila or Diane for some sushi on Bloor St., but I can honor these relationships by staying involved, and sharing through Facebook. It makes it easier to keep that bond, and stay in the business of those I care about the most.
Why It’s Okay to Be Introverted On Social Media
The NEO-FFI personality test identifies five factors that indicate personality archetypes. It is a way to test not the quality of someone’s personality, but to understand the dynamic of your inner character and mental workings. I remember being administered the test twice; once for a six year job I had for a psychometric testing firm in Markham, and once again, when I engaged in six years of bi-monthly psychotherapy, to help me unpack, evaluate, and process certain traumatic events in my life. And it worked. It healed me tremendously, and gave me new perspectives on who I was, my empathy (for others, not always for self) and how I perceived the world and people around me. It also gave me a list of things I work on, to be a better wife, friend, sister, cousin and step-mom, on a daily basis.
Ready for a shocker? I am NOT an introvert.
Ready for another shocker? I love introverts (as long as they don’t penalize me for not being one).
One With The Openness Of Heart, Soul and Mindful Expression
On the NEO-FFI I scored (both times) at 85% on the openness factor. The reason it is so memorable is because both psychologists (who were introverts) had a ‘wow’ moment. Consider that the average North American reads at about a 50% to 60% level of openness. People tend to play their cards close to their chest, because it allows them to avoid interpersonal oversharing that might make them vulnerable at work, and in social relationships. My 85% pretty much means I have zero poker face, few filters (although I am tactful and polite) and I am honest about sharing my thoughts and feelings.
But that’s me. I don’t judge people who don’t share on social media. I respect the fact that people value privacy, or have other reasons for cringing at people like me, who walk around with huge billboards of expression over their heads. I also understand (because my sister is an introvert) how uncomfortable that can make introverts feel. I try my best to reign it in, when I am around introverts I love. But I share actively on social media, and these are the reasons why:
- I am so homesick right now I could die. It’s been three years.
- I am trying to make new friends, and find my place in my husbands family.
- I have friends who live all over the world, and they matter to me. I want us to be in each others business constantly. That’s how we build and retain our bond.
- I like people.
- I like learning and debating, from politics to the environment and other causes I believe in.
- I work in digital marketing and social media is a third hand I use for 8-10 hours, every single day of the week, monitoring accounts and providing community management services.
Here are things I do not do on social:
- Share drama or have arguments in the public.
- Post negative things, comments, or infantile ‘cry for help’ or ‘I’m pissed at my husband’ type posts. Tacky and not a good idea for someone employed in media.
- Swear or get angry at people on social. I say what I want to say, in the classiest and most politically/socially correct way possible.
- Pucker my lips and adjust filters for the perfect ‘trout pout’. Dude, I’m a professional and I’m 44. I leave that to the teenagers.
- Put other people down.
I am a creative. A writer, a poet, a video editor, a conversationalist, and a lifelong intelligent learner. For me, social media is a window to the world and my livelihood, one that I am grateful to be blessed with, as a growing business. It challenges me, inspires me, deepens my understanding of others and the world around me. I believe in the good aspects of our new era of connected online social.
People who know and care about me, get it. I am social, and I want to be as active as I can on a daily basis, with people I care about, in my own personal social media channels and Facebook. It is that vulnerability and openness that connects me to others. And it’s something I personally love about myself, and value. Social media, in particular my private Facebook page, is the connective tissue between my heart, and the hearts of those I love and care about.
I don’t judge people who are reserved, or introverted; I respect and understand them. I can be socially gregarious on my own Facebook page, and I have no intention or need to defend that to anyone. Here is how to avoid seeing my posts (instructions) if they annoy you. Many people are not aware of these settings and feel like they have to see everything. I am selective about the posts I see daily, particularly if they tend to be negative or upsetting. I filter. You can too. And you don’t even have to agonize over whether to unfriend me or not. If you did, I would also understand. You’d just miss all the fun conversations, and have nothing to gossip about. [smirk]
Participating in social media is a personal choice. You don’t have to have a Facebook page at all! It’s all about what works for you socially, and spiritually. If it stresses you, don’t use it. Or take a break (sometimes I wish I could, but hazard of the job). You have all the choices in the world about how you wish to conduct yourself on social media.
What you don’t get to do, is sit back and criticize others, for the choices they make if their posts are intelligent, polite, conversational and even superfluous. My life. My memories. My social ties, and my choice. Your critique is neither appreciated, nor tolerated, simply because it is different than your own. And expect me to be direct about it, because you know, I’m honest and open like that. Stifle your own self-expression if it is what works best for you; get ready to be told, if you think I’ll be cool with you censoring mine. You don’t own me.
PS: I think ‘trout pouts’ are stupid. Honest.