For those of you who know me, this blog isn’t going to reveal anything that you don’t already know. You may think it’s strange, quirky, ridiculous, or even old-fashioned, but you’ve accepted this about me and don’t give it too much thought. But for those of you who don’t know me, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit this. Ok, actually totally embarrassing! But I keep saying I want connection. And I am always telling clients that if you’re seeking connection with someone, you have to be willing to say what’s true for you and that means being vulnerable. Which may lead to people judging you. And since that’s always possible anyway, you really aren’t risking much! (At least they’d be judging you on something that’s true for you, rather than something they’re making up or assuming about you.) So here’s my embarrassing truth: I hate social media. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I’m terrified of it. Scared of not being able to figure out how it works, scared of too much being revealed that can never be undone, scared of other people judging me or my life, scared about what it means about me that I don’t seem to like what every other normal person on the planet LOVES… Actually, my capacity for scaring myself about this topic is relatively limitless! So when my web site developer said that I HAD to have a business Facebook page and Twitter account so that I could get comments on my blog (also Google +, but I drew the line there), I freaked out. For several months, I tried all sorts of tricks and strategies to get myself on board and up to speed, but ultimately all of them have failed. Which has brought me to my newest strategy happening right here - “coming out” in this blog and asking for help!
It all started at the end of 2008, when my brother-in-law set up a Facebook account for me during our Christmas celebration. For the first few days (during the holiday break from our normal routine), it seemed like I was going to be a Facebook fan – I was able to reconnect with some old high school friends, got caught up with some college buddies, and could see the potential for this way of connecting being really fun. But at this stage of my life I had very limited free time, so getting on FB was a luxury I could not afford very often. Since my husband constantly travels for his job as a charter pilot, where he works “on call” (meaning he never has a schedule or knows when or for how long he’ll be away), the bulk of the childcare and household responsibilities fell to me. We had a 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, who had been diagnosed with autism 6 months prior. I had been laid off a month before, and it was becoming clear that ‘Director of Autism Treatment’ was going to have to be my new full-time position for awhile, as running my son’s Son-Rise home program, recruiting and training volunteers, taking him to multiple therapies every day, cooking for his special diet, going to an unending stream of doctors visits for tests, evaluations, and medications, and appealing insurance coverage denials, left no time for a ‘real’ job. At this stage, I had no time to go to the bathroom, never mind check Facebook! But every 6 months or so, I would get some time to check back in on FB. And Facebook would have magically changed from the last time I had been there! I could not figure out how do things quickly, and I would use the entire time I had available just trying to figure out how to do the things I wanted to, and then run out of time before I could actually do them. When I would go back again months later, the same cycle would start all over again. I adopted the belief that it just wasn’t worth it, that it was too much trouble/ difficult to learn – and finally I just gave up in frustration. I mean, who were these people that had time to check Facebook every day, post that they were sitting around drinking coffee, or show pictures of the wonderful dinner they were about to eat, anyway?! Didn’t they have jobs, children, and families? The truth is that I was angry about how difficult life seemed to me in those years, and I felt both frustrated and jealous of others that seemed to be having so much more ease in their lives (or at least had the bandwidth to be spending time on social media everyday.) Of course, the reality is that everyone has stuff going on that’s difficult, whether they’re posting on Facebook or not!
As time went on, life got easier. Through the training programs I attended at The Autism Treatment Center of America, I started coping better with everything going on in my life, and taking more responsibility for my choices. I was choosing to spend my days in therapy with my son, making supplement cocktails, and cooking bone broth – no one was forcing me to. After 2½ years of helping my son at home, I finally went back to work. And after 5 years of autism taking front and center in our lives, he had responded so well to all the interventions we had done that life took on a much more balanced quality, which included more time focused on my daughter and the family as a whole. I started having a little more breathing room and tried to catch up to what the rest of the world had embraced – social media. But technology had moved on during my 5-year hiatus – there were many new sites, like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest that had gained momentum, not to mention all the new games and apps. I was like a stranger in a strange land, and totally overwhelmed with trying to figure it all out!
At the same time, I really wanted to connect with the people around me. It felt good to have the luxury of going out occasionally to social events, restaurants, and public places. But everywhere I went the people I interacted with were constantly looking at their phones, more interested in posting or texting about the event they were at than actually engaging in it! I felt more alone than ever, and I started projecting my disappointment into another new belief, “I hate social media!”
I’ve spent a lot of time digging into my fears and beliefs around this topic. Why am I totally overwhelmed by figuring out how to use all the different web sites and tools? PhD – no problem. Figuring out how to use Facebook and Twitter? Yikes – impossible!! And what exactly am I afraid of people knowing, anyway? You only post what you want to share. I’m the queen of being open and authentic if you want to feel connected to others. What exactly do I think is going to be revealed, and why does it seem so much safer to share face-to-face rather than in a dark, electronic abyss? What does it mean about me that what seems so easy for others is such a big deal for me? How will I survive and thrive during the next 50 years if I’m resisting new technology?!
The person who worked on my web site kept telling me, “It’s so easy, it just takes 30 seconds to do!” Which is probably true if you actually know what to do… but after launching my web site last week, I still haven’t figured out how to message all of my Facebook friends at once with the announcement and ask them to “Like” my business page. (I did post about it, at least!) So, here’s my cry for help: can you share with me any tips and advice for helping me embrace social media?
My questions are:
What’s the thing you love the most about social media?
What’s one small step I could take to ‘ease’ me into using it?
How often do I need to put something on Facebook and Twitter? Is it ok just to announce when I write a new blog post? Or do people want to see more?
Is it ok just to post text, or do I need photos every time?
What’s the easiest way to figure out the technical parts? Watch videos, search the internet, find a friend to walk me through it?
I would love it if you would share your experience and tips in the comments below. I’m feeling a bit exposed now that I’ve come clean with my confession about being technology-phobic, and would love your support in helping bring me into the 21st century!