Next week I am going to a conference for bloggers in Edmonton, BlogWest 2012. If you check out the site you’ll see I’m listed under the session speakers header, yes folks that’s right I’m speaking. My topic: Use Your Power for Good, Not Evil was chosen by the organizers and I am looking forward to sharing with the attendees.
While prepping I’ve had time to reflect on my blog’s journey and to consider social media as a whole. It was after this I realized how long I’ve actually been active in social media without even realizing it. When I was 20 I got my first computer and very quickly found the Yahoo chat rooms. I can remember so many nights chatting in “rooms” with “friends” over a few bevvies, yes even getting sloppy and mistyping.
Later came the webcam rooms, these are hilarious because you enter a “room” and activate your camera, allowing anyone to view you. If the idea frightens you, I urge you never to click someone else’s cam….believe me you don’t always want to see what’s out there!
What strikes me with social media is how differently it can be used depending on the person’s intentions. We can all agree there’s power in this outlet but there are also risks, not always obvious ones….there are ones that sneak up on you.
How many of us have watched a friend on Facebook build a HUGE farm, seen their status updates constantly reflecting their game play? Perhaps you’ve thought that friend is wasting their time?
People often get lost in their online activities, time slips away and their priorities change. While my priorities haven’t ever changed I did lose my voice a bit at different stages, getting caught up in the topic of the moment. Thankfully my eyes were opened and I got back on the SoberJulie train to spreading a message.
What strikes me is that we can create an alter-ego here behind the screen, we often do and some folks lose themselves to it. With all of the dating sites how often are people living a fantasy? Or take the blogger who begins to get positive feedback and morphs into being a brand which doesn’t actually reflect themselves?
Yes, I do realize that I’m sweeping across a board here with my examples but I feel it’s true.
When using social media we need to be conscious of our activities, our motives and what we’re putting out there.
Listen, I’d love to come on here some days and lament on some situation or injustice done to me but ultimately it’s not worth it. I’d be giving you my pain in the butt issue, bringing you down and also the people in my life would eventually worry that everything is blogworthy, without regard to privacy.
Social media is an amazing tool, one which can afford us opportunities to build relationships with others. This brings power with it, our voices can be “heard” by people we’d never reach otherwise.
I’m all about relationships, the ones I’ve made here in cyber-space are amazing….I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many wise, strong people who inspire me. I’d love to have all of these folks over for a cuppa coffee and reflect upon the world together. This isn’t happening anytime soon but in the meantime I will pour a brew and engage from behind the screen and bring forward my authentic self. Just me, just Julie goes here as I do everywhere I go.
How about you, have you ever gotten caught up in the adrenaline which social media can bring? Have you hit the point when you realized you’re veering off-path?
Carpool Goddess says
You bring up some very valid points. I think it’s a good idea to check in once and a while to see who you’re drawing in on these sites and if that’s the audience that suits your brand best. It’s easy to get off track.
Such a great point, we can tell alot about our voices by our readership
LaQuita (Just Us Girls) says
I use to run a social network called, Every Day Moms. It got pretty big and then I started working with Mom TV and Mingle Media TV and had weekly webshows. It all became too stressful and time consuming. Even though I worked from home I was constantly on the computer even when I wasn’t working. I had to eventually shut it down because it did take over my life and that wasn’t fair to my kids or my husband.
This time around is completely different. With Just Us Girls even though I’m the main blogger I have three other girls to help me. I also give myself a time limit when it’s time to get off of the computer. I make sure that by the times my kiddos are home from school that if I’m still on the computer it’s only for a few minutes and doesn’t consume most of my time. We eat dinner and put the kids to bed and then I turn off the computer to have the rest of my evening alone with my husband. This has worked out great for me and even the hubby has seen a big difference in me this time around. I love to blog, I love the friends I’ve made, but my family comes first. You have to know that going in or you’re in for a long one.
Wow you really had a challenge to face didn’t you? Time is a great marker for balance when it comes to blogging….if I spend more than say 2 hours a day it’s become a filler.
How exciting Julie for you to be speaking at Blogwest! Good for you. I agree with you that is is easy to get caught up into all that Social Media can offer. It is crucial to have down time, and as I call it unplugging. I started out blogging for the business that I work in, but it turned into something else which led me to get my own domain, and self host it as well. I know the path I am on is the right one now. I love what I am doing, making people feel better, even just for a minute makes me happy. I also only write what I would say to someone in person. That is a rule of thumb for me. I have to be genuine and I have to be authentic to me. So everything that I write about is what I would have the courage to say to anyone. I find it keeps me on track, and makes me a better person behind the keyboard. It’s so easy to let this screen become a facade. I think the more amazing people you surround yourself with, the more amazing you will be.
So true Patty, it’s when I wasn’t keeping in touch with the blogs I love that I began to lose interest in writing…
Multi-Testing Mommy says
Very interesting topic! I’ve always been a computer girl – ever since University, I’ve always been known as the computer girl amongst my friends. You do have to be careful not to lose yourself in the virtual world, although I will say that time is my challenge, not losing who I am. I am who I am and I wear it on my sleeve. I am real and always will be, thru and thru.
Insane Mamacita says
Just like Multi-Testing Mommy I am a computer girl. Always have been since I started high school (in ’94). It’s my thing. And everyone who knows me, knows how techie I am. I know I spend way too much time on the computer. It’s my escape. But lately I have started realizing that I could be, or more like it, am missing out on time spent with my family. I really need to learn to find balance.
Mrs D says
I’m just a little ole blogger from New Zealand, not aiming big. I write like it’s my diary and if other people can gain anything from my sober living example then that’s great. I don’t write anything that isn’t 100% honest. So it’s really real. I’m not motivated by anything other than a desire to stay sober and communicate how I’m going with that. I think, observe, feel (more than I used to!) and write about it. Good luck for the conference! xxx
I’ve used Facebook and Twitter to organize fundraisers and charity events. I also use FB for community events on the Island. It’s a great way to reach a large audience all at once…and pretty much everyone is on FB these days. Even my mom and her siblings are on FB! lol
P.S. I just wanted to say that you never cease to amaze me :) I love you, Julie! You are such an inspiration and you’ve got a heart of gold. xoxo
such an interesting post.
I found myself nodding my head a bit, because i find that it’s true..sometimes you do get that alter-ego thing going on! I wish i was as talkative in life as i am online…ok, well not as shy!
Katrina Brady says
Great post Julie! There is definately a dark side to social media as well as a positive side. It’s all in how you handle it. Not getting carried away is huge! Some people do expose too much which makes them vulnerable.
Great stuff Julie and provocative too. In addition to being a writer, I do a lot of social media marketing and PR for different clients. The number one rule we always talk about is “engaging, not enraging.” Meaning starting and participating in social media conversations is great but getting caught up in drama is horrible for individuals and brands. I’m with you: social media is a great tool. But it ain’t the real world. My blog deals with some pretty personal issues and moments that I’ve had but like you I try to keep others out of it. Nobody wants to read a bitch session blog or hear about the intimate details of all of my relationships. Instead, I hope that by blogging about how crazy I am or was and how I got through it can help others or at least make them laugh.
Anyway, fabulous topic and keep up the good work. Congrats on the speaker gig too!
There was a time when I felt as if my blog was consuming my life, free time and relationships. Then I stepped back and realized, I started this thing for me – because it made me happy and something I enjoy doing. I removed the evils that were beating the fun out of it, started limiting myself and now – everything feels more balanced than ever. It’s so easy to lose that balance and always a good idea to take a step back and remember why you started to begin with.