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.
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.