RSS Feed

My Year of Social Media Burnout

Image

After working for over a year doing digital marketing, freelancing for under 20 hours/week for the past 6 weeks and now that I have a week to do NOTHING before I start my new job in the new year, I’ve had the chance to reflect on one thing I’ve been grappling with:

In 2013, social media burned me the fuck out.

I have loved social since the beginning, while perchance being a slower adopter than other mavericks out there. When my college developed their own “facebook” to mimic what was happening at Harvard, I signed on. When The Facebook was expanded to our school, I jumped at it. I was pissed when they opened it up outside of college students, but quickly realized this wasn’t a bad thing (except for those of us who still were posting pics of us binge drinking and playing dress up in the costume shop). I joined Twitter in 2009 and FELL IN LOVE. As Instagram, Google+, Vine, Pinterest and others started coming on, I always got an account because I wanted to tinker and learn new things and connect with great people.

And then my dream come true happened: I got a job doing these things that I love. The Salvation Army (and especially my supervisor) gave me a great opportunity to expand what I naturally knew from these platforms and make them quantifiable and yield results. I was helping people while goofing around with them simultaneously; I was getting to present a side of this organization that was more fun and lighthearted but was able to rally supporters when it really mattered.

And then… it just became work. And not, like, HEY-YO let’s get work done WEEEEEE, but instead the oh-crap-do-I-really-have-to-respond-to-this-jerk-at-10:30pm work.

I love being social. I am a social animal by nature and I never knew a stranger. But even for the most social among us, other peoples’ fleeting thoughts, opinions and articles became exhausting to watch, and after a while I just didn’t care. I felt like what I was putting out there was stupid and soulless and I started doubting my ability to really connect with people. Apathy is my most dangerous state. I know that when I stop caring, it’s time to move on. When I resigned, I stayed with The Salvation Army in a contract role but I still sub-contracted out doing the social media. I was working about 17 hours per week, far less than what my mind and body need to remain stimulated, and I couldn’t bring myself to stay connected in these worlds. I responded to people and posted things in real time as necessary, and that was the most you got out of me.

So when I finished my contract position on Friday, and finally turned in that second iPhone that I have been carrying around like a mental sack of potatoes on my exhausted back, I felt pure relief.

Freedom.

For the next few days I would be engrossed in another activity and feel a wave of anxiety come over me, and then let out a slow, deep sigh remembering that I do not have to be connected. I can remain engaged in the activity at hand, and nothing else. I can choose to ignore my personal phone too, and shut that sucker off whenever I want. I am not tethered by an electronic device that I’m sure is growing some sort of chatty tumor in my body. I am shutting off, exploring non-digital diversions, and being around good people.

I now have an opportunity to work for a company (starting Monday!) that deals with real people in the flesh all day long. I can still connect with them virtually, but then follow that up with what I really, really want: face to face interaction, learning others’ passions and talents, and figuring out how I can help you get to the job or career you want. For what I need right now, this is perfect.

I already feel myself being pulled back to the social sphere because my soul feels untethered again. And while I will say that this year wasn’t the greatest on a few fronts, it was absolutely vital to my personal and career journey, and I am full with gratitude as a result.

So, hey 2014. I might tweet about you. I might not. But I’d love to have a beer with you face to face.

Covering it all with paint

We have a pretty cool intern at work, and her name is Stephanie. She’s graduating from Saint Louis University this semester and is geeking out about her senior project, which is taking a look at how St. Louis is perceived on social media versus real life. She is comparing attitudes from differing demographics about how they see the city: the lifers, the transplants, those who have visited, and those who have never stepped foot here. So she asked me as a budding social media professional (and transplant) in how I perceived good ol’ #STL.

I started to give my answer but I was curious about something. I asked her, “Do you think it’s a good or a bad thing if the opinions don’t match up? So if the lifers say this city sucks (which is surprisingly common) and social media says the city is awesome, what do you think about that?”

She thought about it, and said she thought it would be bad. It would be bad to misrepresent ourselves and create this euphemistic view when the substance isn’t there in the first place. Why market yourself as a gourmet burger house when you’re serving pink slime? And that is a very valid point.

But I told her to watch this TED talk about how Edi Rama, the former mayor of Tirana the capital of Algeria, revolutionized the attitudes and quality of living in his city, starting with a paintbrush:

If you’re not into sitting through the 15 minute video, here are the highlights. 1) His city was drab and his citizen’s attitudes weren’t good. 2) He starting painting buildings beautiful and bright colors which invigorated pride in Tirana. 3) He demolished illegal buildings and made way for greater public spaces and planted over 15,000 trees & bushes. 4) 63% of the people polled liked the bright paint, and of the 37% that didn’t like it, 50% wanted it to still continue. 5) People were happier to live there, and crime went down because the people felt more ownership.

So I pointed out the video because of this: St. Louis is a blank canvas at this point. And when it comes to social involvement and social change, social media is a fantastic starting point. Anyone can have access to the microphone to start advertising their ideas and their feelings about where we can go from here–and the more positive buzz, the more positive feelings people will have. The most recent project that has been so exciting is RallySTL, the crowd-sourced and crowd-funded project hub where people can submit and vote on ideas to revitalize St. Louis. And social media is a huge part of this initiative.

Stephanie agreed and understood my perspective. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t say “I have an idea, I guess.” He vocalized a dream, and today I know a lot of those dreamers voice their opinions on these great platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, & WordPress.

If local social media is painting a picture of St. Louis that isn’t a reality yet, so be it. Because I feel rumblings under our feet of the change that is coming, and has already arrived. I know that appreciating what you have and a desire to be better can be the inspiring first step toward making us better people, a better city, and a better society.

So everyone grab a paintbrush.

I mentioned RallySTL, but who else is championing change for St. Louis and using social media? Leave it in the comments.

Update: Other great change-makers include ConnectingSTL, Investl.org and Overfundit.com for all ideas, not just STL. Great stuff!

A Void at My Wedding

My wedding burst at the seams with awesome.

This costume party wedding (with no costume rules other than no skanky bizniss) had the perfect amount of people there. It was relaxed, fun, and rained like hell, but it looked like everyone was having a good time. Several people told me it was the best wedding they had ever been to. And although I was sad that about half the guest list couldn’t make it, the size was perfect.

Friends from Wichita, with Wes on a stick in the back

But there was one person who made a comical appearance via pictures on sticks even though he couldn’t be there in person… and he was the person that I missed the most.

My friend Wes couldn’t be there because he’s being deployed to Afghanistan in December, but he’s been mobilized since September. Will and I originally asked him to be one of the two officiants, but alas his orders did not allow him to do so (which opened the door for another one of my favorite people to officiate, and she rocked it). And there was something that he did before our wedding that I feel was the truest form of integrity I’ve ever seen, and I just want to gush about him for a minute.

Wes and I seem like unlikely friends. I tend to roll my eyes at most of what he posts on Facebook–is election season OVER??–and he sees the world much differently than I do. He does his best not to cuss, and although he is wild and unpredictable in a fun way, he is extremely grounded and principled, sometimes almost to an annoying level (loosen up, bro). But I have always liked him because he is genuine. While I sit solidly in the gray area seeing a little truth in everything, Wes has a rigid view of the Truth yet is always open for fascinating discussion. But above all, he has such tremendous integrity that it moves me.

For example.

His fabulous wife visited here with him shortly before he mobilized, and she asked him if he got his letters done. I asked what the letters were for, and he told me that since he is leading a platoon in Afghanistan, he was writing letters to the family members of all of his troops to help them understand what to expect when their loved one is oversees. Why they may seem short on the phone (could have gotten shot at today), or why they may not care that you got the carpets cleaned while they’re in a stressful zone. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that the lives of these young men and women life have been altered in a way that they haven’t experienced. And in this letter, Wes was also going to prepare families for warning signs of PTSD and other negative potential aftermaths of combat.

I thought this was just great. So great in fact, that I figured that this was something the Army had all their platoon leaders to do.

Turns out Wes was doing this on his own, with no prompting other than a wish that this had been done for his family when he went to Iraq.

Wes… and a stormtrooper

Because it’s the right thing to do.

I feel a great pride in my friendships, because they are the chosen wing of my family. So when I see my friends go above what they’re asked to help others along the way, I feel so grateful to know them.

And I am just so proud to know Wes. Bummed as hell he couldn’t be at the wedding, but I am so glad he will be that calm, confident presence helping kids face dangerous shit on the front lines in the name of their county. I just feel better knowing he’ll be there for them.

I want to hear about the people in your life that inspire you. Also, if you know Wes, I want to hear your favorite Wes story. Comment below.

 

 

In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

thedanajamboree:

Sometimes, it’s analyses like these that I want to discuss over cognac and cigars. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Face in the Blue:

Hello everyone!

One of my most-visited sites on the web is Reddit.com, and one of my favourite subreddits is HistoricalWhatIf, an online community that debates historical hypotheticals. Earlier today someone asked the question, In a mass knife fight to the death between every American President, who would win and why? Someone beat me to the obvious answer that a final showdown would see Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt doing a dagger-wielding version of a Mexican standoff, so I took it too far and walked through how I thought every president would turn out. An hour later the result greatly exceeded the maximum 10,000 character limit for a post, so I’ve decided to blog about it instead.

To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the redditor Xineph:

  • Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever…

View original 2,877 more words

I am villain, hear me RAWR

The villain is always interesting to me.

In theatre (in which I have my BA), we were taught that if you’re playing the villain in a show, you must never think of yourself as the villain. You’re always trying to accomplish something which could possibly be rooted in revenge, purity (think Hitler), or something else that you can justify. But you’re always trying to achieve something meaningful to yourself even if you’re coming across as an evil prick.

So when I see a play/movie/tv show that has the primary “evil” character playing the anger card incessantly, I roll my eyes. In acting, anger is always the easiest emotion to play. You can yell and get red-faced and furrowed and ANGRY. RAWR!!! But for example, if you watch parenting that is yelling about EVERYTHING, the kid starts to roll their eyes at that behavior and not take you seriously. Because once you see it enough, that tactic becomes cheapened and ineffective.

Speak softly, and wear some big ass horns.

That is why my favorite Disney villain of all time is Maleficent. She scared the bejeezus out of me and my sister as kids; we would always hide on the stairs whenever she came onscreen in Sleeping Beauty. And it’s because you knew she was evil by her presence. She didn’t need to yell. She didn’t scream. It was just known that she was totally and completely scary. She was calm, fluid, graceful, and soft spoken. Sure she would yell and get pissed, but it was balanced.

In theatre, to communicate effectively you need to balance out your approaches. You play things the same, it’s boring and people tune out. You make your actions too big and emotionally heavy, people don’t believe you. In day to day communication, it’s the same thing. Keep spewing out the same stuff over and over again, people tune out. If the only thing you ever post about is your new blog post, I won’t read it. But if you send out interesting articles, respond to funny things and balance personal posts, you are now creating an interesting story arc about who you are as a person. And at the root of it, isn’t discovering other people the main thing we are interested in anyway?

So I wanna know: who is your favorite villain of all time, and why did they scare the crap out of you/make you angry/freak you out? Comment me, yo.

An Ode to the Start

There have been several changes for me this year.

Moving to St. Louis with my sweetheart. Starting a new job. Quitting that job. Starting another new job. Planning a wedding with my sweetheart… all within 7 months. Holy crap.

But as the truly wise have told us, we don’t really start to grasp who we are until we are faced with adversity–and apparently, a hell of a lot of stress. I knew that I was incredibly unhappy with my shotgun wedding to my first job opportunity in St. Louis, and I had to make a change. I was so desperate for it, that I was crying 4 or 5 times every week. So when a twitter acquaintance (now friend) asked if I was interested in her old position at the Salvation Army and I gave her my resume, I thought it was a crapshoot. I mean, I love social media and story-telling, but why on earth would they hire me to do those things when I’ve been in fundraising for the past 3 years? I don’t have the resume experience, so there is no earthly reason that I would be considered… so I told myself.

But I got the job. And for the first time in what seems like forever, I’m BEYOND excited about what I’ll be doing during the day. And because I’m trying this whole new career, I am committed to sharing what I find in these ever-more-awesome fields of social media, communication, and human interaction.

This is Will. I’m a fan of him.

My fiance, Will, has always quipped to me that I like to “jamboree all over the place”… a tribute to my boisterous and dramatic personality. He says it in this adorable way that makes me want to just smother him… with love.

The definition of jamboree is as follows:

Jamboree [jam-buh-ree]: a carousal; any noisy merrymaking.

So this is my noisy merrymaking of anything cool, interesting, fun, or fascinating about communication. And now that I’m peeking above the fog of the past 7 months, I can say that I’m grateful for the crap that brought me to this point.

This is gonna be fun.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,685 other followers