Monday, November 21, 2011

Confessions of a social media misfit

Last night I gave my friend a crash course in Twitter, Pinterest, and the like. My husband took a picture of us huddled over my friend's laptop and posted it to Facebook and Twitter (of course) with the label "Technology instruction," which is something of a misnomer since it wasn't technology so much that comprised my tutelage as social media. Of technology I am mostly ignorant. Of social media, well, I wouldn't say I'm an expert by any means (Stumble Upon? Klout? These things are mysteries to me) but sometimes I like to try.

I think I've told you before of my general unease in regard to much of my social media interaction, be it blogging or tweeting or perusing Pinterest. Sometimes, most times, I love it. As I've confessed on here many times, I love interacting with friends from across the globe. I love our internet conversations via  comment thread or email. I love the exchange of ideas and information and the discussion of life and theology and parenting and the gospel and difficulties and such. I know the blessing of true and genuine friendship with several women I respect and admire and this only because of social media. Not only that, but also in more general terms, we human beings are curious creatures and my twitter feed satisfies to some degree this curiosity I have about the lives and thoughts of others. So, yeah, I like having a small (very small) media presence on the web.

Sometimes, though, as much as I like it, social media has a tendency to depress me. I know, because I know my own tweets and blog posts and status updates, that the image presented in these public forums is only a slice of the real. Though I attempt to portray as authentically as possible the real me here on the world wide web the reality is such that you see only a portion of me and my life, a portion I control. It easy to forget this, however, when I'm reading others' glowing, peppy, happy-happy updates. Sometimes my life, my faith, seems drab in comparison. Sometimes I am drab in comparison. Sometimes I am envious. Sometimes I am depressed. Sometimes I want to indulge my hermit tendencies and delete any and all social accounts.

I am not, by nature, a very social person. In fact, I am much more shy and insecure than most people realize. Because I am in personality reserved, the social part of social media can be overwhelming. I marvel at those who can tweet about any and everything, and tweet with such wit to boot! Amazing!

Part of me thinks these are silly things for me to be pondering. What's the big deal about tweeting or not tweeting? It isn't life or death, that's true. Eternity doesn't hang in the balance over my pins on Pinterest. I would not be in the right or in the wrong if I continued my Facebook account or suspended it. I am not leading my friend astray by showing her the wonders of Tweetdeck or all the fascinating information to be found on Pinterest.

Rather, my thoughts today are considering what my occasional reticence says about me and about the place I give to social media in my day to day life. Why do I blog (when and if I blog)? Why that painful twinge when I look at the number of site visits here at the blog? Can I see social media for what it truly is or do I let it be an unhelpful influence? Do I tweet for the glory of God? Why does that sound like a silly thing to ask? These are good questions, important questions.

Despite my unease, I do not anticipate a complete retreat from all things social media related. I imagine I will continue much as I have done, with an intermittent and occasional presence. Though I know that my relationships via the world wide web are real and I am so grateful for those very real friendships, my first priority is to the more real of my real, non-virtual life. In other words, blogging must take a back seat to cooking supper.

But, for the curious, you may find me every now and then here at the blog or via the other venues which you can follow or subscribe through the links there to the right on the sidebar.

What about you? Do you love or merely tolerate social media? Or do you avoid it altogether? Am I the only insecure, hermit-prone misfit? How do you strike a balance between your real and virtual communities and responsibilities?

8 comments:

  1. I can relate to a lot of what you say here. I, too, am more shy than might come across on the internet AND I struggle with finding a balance between my real life and my digital life. Let's face it...sometimes, the digital life is a LOT easier - plenty of days I would rather deal with a machine than real people! As for my tendency to analyze how many page views, followers and likes I have (and putting those things in the proper perspective), God is helping me work on that.

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  2. I think I'm a social media misfit too. I like things like Facebook and Twitter, but I've found that more and more I will comment on other peoples status, but I rarely post anything of my own. The same has been true of blogging. As I've thought about suspending my Facebook account over the last few days, I've realised that's its because of the drama. I love all the wonderful people I've met through Facebook and blogging, but it seems to me that harsh comments are made a little too easily in the disconnected world of the internet. Things are said that would likely never be said in a face-to-face conversation. Its also hard to convey matters of tone in a Facebook comment, so I think its easy to be offended by something that someone really meant to express in a kind and gentle matter. Saturday night I went to bed early and cried because of a few Facebook comments made by a friend (seriously, my husband thought I was nuts - though more than likely its those pesky pregnancy horomones). Anyway, after thinking about it I realised that I likely took it WAY to personally, and that the person leaving the comments surely had no desire to hurt me, its was just the way it came across. Which made me wonder how often I've unintentionally done that to others.
    Anyway, thank you for this post and sorry for my rambling comment here, its just something that's been on my heart.

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  3. Standing at a crossroads with it all. Not sure what the future holds...

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  4. I like social media for the reasons you mention, i.e. knowing ladies like you! But it depresses me for similar reasons. I often feel inadequate and silly, and I wish I could write something more meaningful than a silly tweet. I consider myself a very odd sort of introvert. I don't like crowds and trying to make small talk. If I had my way, I'd rather speak in front of 200 women I don't know than try and find a table at ladies' meeting at my own church. What depresses me about social media is that it can make people satisfied and not desire deeper friendships. We may think we have all the connections we can handle, but in reality only 2 or 3 people really know us. That's what I struggle with.

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  5. Inadequate and silly--yep, me too! I don't like crowds nor small talk either. I like your observations about social media's tendency to make us satisfied with lesser in terms of friendships. That gives me more to ponder as I consider my own social media connections.

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  6. I understand completely. I pray the Lord will direct you as you wait on Him at the crossroads!

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  7. I've observed very similar instances in regard to harsh words being more prevalent because of the disconnect of relationship via computer screen. I too have been hurt and offended by things said in a comment that, like you, I don't think would have ever been said in a face to face conversation! "Tone" has become completely off bounds which seems to me to be only an excuse to be as rude as you want and claim that your tone was merely misunderstood! The truth is, we can speak (type) honestly and remain gracious. Or so it seems to me. Anyway, thanks for your rambling comment! Feel free to ramble on anytime... :)

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  8. When I first started blogging and discovered site meter I was a stat junkie. Now, I rarely, if ever, look at them but when I do, it depresses me. Maybe I should just delete all stat counters and save myself the worry! :)

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