You may have already noticed, but I find social media a little bit difficult.
I love Instagram. I love a platform which allows people to share what inspires and moves them through beautiful photography. Like many others, I simply get lost in it. I only wish that I was better at sharing what inspires and moves me.
On the other hand, I don’t understand Twitter. I feel like there are too many people talking all at once. It’s like I’m trying to hear a band over the screams of a mosh-pit when I’d rather be at home in front of the fire with the vinyl on the turntable.
Don’t misunderstand me though, my struggle with social media is not about the platforms themselves. My struggle comes from years of social conditioning which told me to ‘speak only when spoken to’.
When I was a little girl, my mother would often tell me “speak only when spoken to” or “little girls should be seen and not heard”. It was a life skill that I struggled to learn. Silently practicing verbal restraint was not my style. I once received a School Merit Certificate for always participating in oral expression. By the third grade, it was clear that being quiet was not my thing.
I soon realised growing up that my mother wasn’t the only person who expected me to remain silent. My schooling and early career were populated with statements such as “Wendy, you love the sound of your own voice” or “Not everyone needs to know your opinion” or “I often find that you’re respected more if you speak less”.
Despite my many moments of public humiliation, I never believed that I should remain silently passive in a debate or refuse to express a valid opinion simply because others didn’t want to hear it. I believed (I still believe) that if I am a welcome member at the table then I have the right to speak my mind. What I did learn over the years, however, was to speak less and let my work do the talking. I developed the belief that a Quiet Achiever will achieve more than the High Achiever who sings his own praises.
But, being a quiet achiever is not very social.
Jump forward a few years into the world of social media and suddenly my peers are contradicting everything I’ve been conditioned to believe. Today I am encouraged to speak up and speak consistently. My readers and followers want to hear from me. I need to let people see me if they are to find me and support my craft. My publisher will want to know that I can raise myself out of the crowded marketplace via social media. My peers are sharing. I should share too.
It's a big leap…
In other words – this little girl can be both seen AND heard these days. Apparently, always participating in oral expression is not so bad after all. My value COMES from my conversation, not my lack of it. I must be authentically me. Share my day, my life, my stories. These inner thoughts are what make me uniquely special and I should share them. But how? Each time I post or tweet, my inner voice yells at me “Wendy, no one is interested in that.” Sometimes I stop. I delete the post. I move the photo along on the Planoly grid. A month passes and nothing is shared.
I’m working on it.
Although, I haven’t worked it out yet. I’m still trying to reconnect with that inner chatterbox who loved to share her heart. The question is what do you want to know about this simple life of mine? I hang out with my kids. I bake cookies for after school snacks. I help at local sporting clubs and school committees when they need me. Sometimes, in between my day-to-day, I try to find inspiration in big-sky places. I watch my dog chase waves on the beach. I hike and knit and read and of course write! But do you really want to see all that?
So, this is what I’m asking. Will you bear with me while I find her? Will you help me to share appropriately, cheer me when I get it right, tell me when you love what I’m doing, wiggle a finger when I cross the line. Will you help me find my social media voice?