7/21/10

the meaningless-meaningful social media world

How can something be so meaningless and so meaningful at the same time?

facebook.youtube.flickr.whrrl.blogging.twitter.linkedin...

Neither good nor bad in their entirety, but always both good and bad.


My life is here, in flesh and blood, poured out in cups of juice and sealed over with Snoopy band-aids. I am here in whispered prayers and meaningful conversation, many of my words are never put to paper or blog.

I am across the table from a friend of nearly twenty years, watching the way her long brown hair still falls around her face the same way it did when she was 19. We are using the same knife to spin cream through our coffee, and we are pouring out words and laughter that is left unblogged.


I am on the phone with my Aunt and then a friend and then another friend, and then off with my boys to meet my parents for dinner. I am wearing flip-flops almost every day and getting flustered over the dog barking. I am almost entirely forgetting that the world wide interweb exists.

My life is here. I am side-turned to sleep next to a snoring man who I call husband, one who doesn't like how I always always steal the covers. He is the man that forgives me every little and big thing in our ordinary life. He sees it all, the things you cannot see, and he keeps me.


I am here sweeping dog hair and crumbs to dustpan and taking the garbage to the curb. And I might even tell you about it by using a computer. Or wait. I am telling you about it using a computer and a connection in the sky.


Words can be so meaningless, filling space and time by filling space and time with drivel. There is no meaning if words in cyber-spaces are thrown out as a means to an end. For selfish gain. There is no meaning if these words are not inspired but forcefully contrived, simply said to be said to say something, anything, to just have something to say for something to get.

I don't want my words to be a means to an end. Ever. I want pure motives and true connection and to pull parts of my life of here to the pages out there, and then cheesily (yes, that's a word) make a difference. So sometimes I wonder about all of this and feel that tension in my gut. The questions start to flow as I watch all the games that are played in these spaces. And I realize that if I think too hard about all of that, I will go quiet.

I walk the line between striving to stay relevant, to be heard and clicked on so I don't disappear, and a genuine heartfelt desire to create and cause and change and give back.
I mostly stay nearer to the latter side of the line, authentic and heart-driven, but I too get pulled by opinions on how to do this thing "right" every once and a while. I never like my words when I cave to that pull.


There is no escaping the reality of life in the year 2010. A good year. Whatever we want, we can find it behind a screen and that is a gift, but only when used with honor and integrity-no veils, no tricks or gimmicks, just me and my heart-gut poured out for the right reasons. I want to always keep it this way, to have this desire and cause and purpose and mission, handed over through a medium that can be so meaningless if void of a sincere and careful and concerted effort to do the right thing. Always.

'They' say you have to have a blog to do this and you have to have a mac to do that. You have to create an account here if you want to succeed with this or with that. You have to tweet to keep your face in people's faces if your business or book or record or articles will ever ever be seen-heard. And the current and future reality is that 'they' are mostly right. People who do not love social media are being forced to make difficult choices, to jump in for fear of others getting ahead because those others are linked in and hooked up and everywhere at all times, and for what? So they have more people who 'like' them on facebook? To show they've done some excellent promoting? How many times do we click 'like' without truly knowing or liking? This is what I mean...so meaningless and meaningful, at the same time. Because despite all the shallow there is so much depth and connection here. Aside from the frivolous extras, of course.

I quite miss the absence of all of this cyber hubbub sometimes. And yet, here I am, at my keyboard, telling you how I feel about all of it. You who I know and don't know, my words falling in your space and taking your time. And then I'm honored and humbled at the thought of that, and I want to do right by you.

I am here and my life is full of people and colors and experiences and sights and sounds that are only mine. I am in my imperfect skin in my imperfect life and I love that you are along for the ride.

The social media world has opened doors for me. Sobriety has opened doors for me. I am moving ahead at the speed of light thanks to a strange thing, a strange word- Blogging.


I don't believe a person will be left behind or go unheard or fail if they steer clear of social media. And even so, somehow, strangely, social media has impacted my life in a positive way. Today I'm thinking out loud and finding that I need to ask myself if my personal success is the only reason I cheer on the meaningless/meaningful social media world?

And now I sit here in this endless world of words and I beg myself to stay right here, in my life, with only a touch of cyber-space as icing.


social media photos courtesy of flickr

36 clicked right here to comment:

Tessa said...

Ever since I started blogging I vacillate between just pouring out my heart and not caring and having identity crisis's. I didn't start blogging to gain followers or make money, but when lack of followers and comments abound, I sometimes find my fragile ego hurting and questioning the whole thing. Then I remember why I started in the first place. To be out there. To be authentic and vulnerable no matter who reads it (or doesn't!). I'm not one for marketing myself and I have to trust that whoever is meant to read my words will, even if it is just my boys in 20 years.

Lara said...

I have been having so many of these feelings the last few months. Which is why I've let up a bit on the blogging. But, I doubt I'll ever go away. Just need to reprioritize things and remember why I started in the first place. I'm still holding out on not twittering. FB and blogging is about all I can handle!

Alita- Da Mainiacs said...

Blogging is my creative outlet. It is a place where I can share things that I love. I get no gains out of it except that I enjoy the time behind my computer screen. A half hour all to myself before I have to do all those wonderful and mundane things in my life. You described it perfectly. I am me, I share thoughts and what my eye captures behind my Nikon, but it isn't all of me. I love to blog for fun. If iteverbecomes something I don't truly enjoy, well that will be the day that I will stop. For now it is entertainment. Not a means to an end.

Thought provoking for sure, as all your other writing, I enjoyed this immensely.

Christine said...

I orginally read this on my phone, the very device that keeps me constantly connected to a multitude of social networks. It's both a crutch and an aide. Some days I love and some days I HATE it. But for whaterver reason I can't tear myself away. Blogging has become so important to me too, my blog IS me, and nothing more. I carefully avoid expectations, and try so hard to stay focused on the purpose, it's an outlet, and only that. Sometimes I stray...but only for a brief moment until I mindfully call myself back.

Can I admit that I like the fact that my blog is completely in my control? And because it is I know that I could just walk away at any moment, at any moment without any recourse. It's the only thing in my life that I know I can do that with. It's hugely empowering.

Heather of the EO said...

Holy good point, Batman. (the thing we have in our control-the one thing we can walk away from if we want to walk away) I'd never really thought about that before. Maybe it's why most of us feel this tension here and there. We know we could push the button and POOF disappear. hmmmm...

Kristina P. said...

I know how you feel. People keep telling me I have to get on The Twitter. And you know what? No, I don't. I can choose where I want to spend my time.

Lesa said...

very nicely written

deb said...

you are so wise Heather.

sometimes trying too hard doesn't make life happen. not a good abiding one anyway.
I struggle with being out there in real life, which is why I appreciate the flexibility and freedom in blogging .

the drama I don't get or need, but do understand , it's like the reality tv side of it. ick.

I've often thought about the irony of those that build a platform to write their book or promote it, and then of course have no time for their readers. of course. but , yet? is that right.
rambling , but I read some blogs that seem contrived or meant to push buttons and I tend to stop visiting .

you, I hope you stay here , without obligation.
just to gift with something that is uniquely beautiful.
your heart.

Ann Imig said...

You articulated this conflict so well.

You're right--it's neither neither/nor nor both/and

really?

it's acceptance

of how much we can do, and what are limits are, and how we balance our dreams and the present.

Such a challenge.

Varda said...

Heather, So funny you post this today as I've been ruminating a lot lately on the nature of blogging and social media and the impact they have made on my life. I guess with BlogHer10 looming in the immediate future we're all thinking the big meta-thoughts about these things. Just today I was having a lovely intersection between my online and "real" lives: a Mom I know from Twitter (who I'm sure I followed because she was tweeting with my bloggy compatriots) has just moved to NYC & it happens she's moved into my neighborhood AND her kids - 1 the same age as my twins - will go to my kid's school. So this AM (after many phone calls & tweets full of "new to NY" advice) she came to meet me & a bunch of Moms w/ same age kids and it was awesome. And a part of me wad marveling at this brave new world that has allowed this to happen. And all because overwhelmed by my intense feelings as I attended to my dying father while caring for my kids I started to blog so I wouldn't completely lose my mind. I won't go on & on (oh, wait I already did - sorry!) but its really quite amazing yet also ordinary -- just an extension of the Mom networking I do at the school (Im a total yenta) but cranked up to 11 & spread out across the (virtual) globe. Thanks so much for your thoughtful, beautifully written, positively provocative (as in generating much thought in others) post.

katdish said...

Awesome.

Billy Coffey said...

There are times when blogging/Twitter/Facebook become something I have to do rather than want to do, but that may be true with everything. I know that I've met some amazing people and have had some amazing doors open as a result of it, though. And for that, I'm grateful.

Ash said...

A fine line for sure. Very well stated.

But then I think of you, and Lee, and Deb, and Jay, and Michele, and Jen, and Holly, and Leigh...

These wonderful people who fill my life, along side my "3-D" friends - so many good things I would've missed out on if not for my blog.

The garbage, yeah, I could totally live without, but I'll gladly deal with the pile of stank to discover more hidden gems. Blogging has restored a lot of my faith in the world - NO easy task.

Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

I have such a love hate relationship with blogging/twitter. I love the connections, I hate the feeling that I need to out each and every day, reading and writing. But you know what, if I wasn't spending my time here, during nap time, what would I being doing? I have no idea. So in the end, I love it. With a small side of hate.

Andrea said...

It is SUCH a fine line and I often realize that after a few days I totally base my value on positive (or non-existent) comments. In those moments I really have to check myself because I do this for myself, not for approval.

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

Of all the posts I've read today, I'm going to keep thinking about this one all night.

Thank you.

Joanne@ Blessed... said...

Heather,

Social media- one tough nut to crack. I have a love/hate relationship going on with it myself.

LOVED this post my friend. I just wrote a bit about my "Fake Facebook Friends" the other day.

Twitter/Facebook...I LOVE YOU. I HATE YOU. I LOVE YOU...

Duane Scott said...

Just so you know, I've been reading you for quite some months now.

This is positively your best post.

I have nothing to add.

Just thought you should know.

Terresa said...

Trying to stay relevant in both worlds, virtual and real, is a tough place to be. I feel it everyday.

I tried a digital fast earlier this week. Didn't turn on my computer until late in the day. Did all sorts of (erm, normal) things like make meals, play with my kids, and organize my house. Who would've thought it possible?? ;)

Hope your summer is in full bloom!

Elaine A. said...

You wrote this so well (again!) and that I think many of us 'bloggers' feel this way. Actually, I know we do.

And thanks for the reminder to make sure my words have meaning. Mostly for myself...

Casey Freeland said...

I'm reading similar comments from a lot of the blogs I follow. Something is in the air.

What happens here is not real in the strictest sense. We can't all communicate completely in a text only format. It's just not possible.

You probably wouldn't be able to stand five minutes in a coffee shop with the likes of me.

But here we all have that shield of distance and because of that we also have courage.

With courage we can express ourselves in a very specific way that helps our lives and, we hope, helps others as well.

Just don't forget what is real, that sweet little man, your snoring husband, and all is well. We'll always be here when you need us.

Cheers,

Casey

蔡靜芳蔡靜芳 said...

德不孤,必有鄰。文不獨,必有應!............................................................

rebecca @ altared spaces said...

Last night at dinner I found myself promoting social media to a 17 year old friend of mine who describes herself as "old school". She said she'd rather have a real conversation with someone.

Me too.

Mostly.

But I have found that there are sometimes that the conversations seem more real here. And I'm finding my tribe here.

Because there's more choices, maybe, or because, like Christine said, I'm just so ME here, or it's the shield. Not sure.

I was the MOST reluctant social media person on the planet. Still am in many ways. But I'm coming round and seeing the utter democracy of the thing.

Joy (@ Joy In This Journey) said...

Real life with a little digital icing... that's the ideal, I think.

I have to disagree with the ones who say online isn't real. I'm sure it isn't for some. But for some of us, being open in real life, using spoken words, is extremely difficult. I have always been more ME in writing. I can put down in pen-on-paper what I cannot speak. My friends online are real friends and know me as well or better than the people I see every week at church or school or work. And that's why I can't walk away. It's an essential part of ME.

Kaycee said...

I really like this. There are definite plus and minus issues with media, social or otherwise. There are things I love, and things I hate. There are limits I have. For example, I get left out of a LOT of information of my friends and family because I am not on Facebook. I am not on Facebook because I am a teacher. I know there are teachers that are and do fine, but it's just not a risk I am comfortable with. I would hate for something I posted to be misinterpreted and cause me to lose a job I love. (plus I teach high school - and they always find me!) I don't have a blog for the same reason, though part of me yearns to pour my words out there. Yet I love email and I get to keep in touch with friends and family from afar through pictures and words that way. I love blogs. I love to read them - they make me think, laugh, nod, cry... inspire me. But I love the idea of 'real life with a little digital icing'. That is so where I want to be.

Debbie said...

You summed this up so perfectly.
I try to walk that fine line of balance but it is so easy to fall off.

Jana @ An Attitude Adjustment said...

Heather,
I've seen you around ("Heather of the EO" on other blogs), and I recognize your heading enough to know that I've visited. But why didn't I visit more? What a great blog you have, and what a great writer you are! I am on the same page with you about these cyber issues--I am planning a post on it, too. I don't know what to make of the fact that facebook has 8% of the world's population as its members. I wonder if I should be scared. (I kind of suspect I should be.) But as a mom, I love this world, too. It's like chocolate, or something.

Kelly said...

Such a tightrope. And reading the dos/don'ts makes you feel like you should want to be super-connected and highly successful and in everyone's faces, even though you really are okay with just being who and what and where you are.

I love that I can get what I want when I want it. I loathe that I can also be gotten to in ways that aren't always positive and healthy.

Sarah said...

I love this post. It resonated. There are times when I wish I we weren't so connected. There is a pull for simplicity and slow - when I'm not accessible. Sometimes, I just want to chuck my phone and disappear from online... but I've been her for 15 years - it's part of my life and I'm not sure I'd know how to live without it, which is kinda sad.

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

I really really love what Christine said.

My blog means so much to me for so many reasons but the complete control aspect is probably the root of all those reasons. In the same breath though, that complete control mixed with my own awkward social abilities and my self doubts are probably a part of what tether me to the online world.

Yes I can push the button and be gone from the online world like that but if I do will I be missed.

That is a rhetorical question but it may be easier for me to do the limbo between real life and online life that to test out if my absence would mean anything to anyone but me.

Candy said...

And you, my dear, are the cat's pajamas. I *choose* for your words to fall into my space and time. Not every day, but when I do, they are really no different to me than sharing coffee with a friend. Well, other than the fact that I don't drink coffee.

Love your stuff.

Kazzy said...

Cyber space as icing. I Love that. SO true. We have to choose to be "here" or it ends up being the boss. And I don't like being bossed around!

alexis said...

i feel this way all the time. and sometimes i cave to the pressure, but for the most part (so far, at least), my caving has led to good results. like, getting on twitter? was a great decision for me. i have insomnia, and at two in the morning, sometimes i just want to reach out and talk to someone, and on twitter, someone else is always up at that time.

and i honestly haven't had it too hard--my blog is where i dump all my feelings and insecurities, and people have responded well (like i said, so far). i haven't really questioned whether i should post this or that or whatever. i think the best decision i've made so far is not to monetize. because i would probably have to censor a lot more if i were representing a brand. in the future, that might change. but for now, my blog is all mine, and that's exactly what i need.

Tiffany said...

I count myself lucky to have known Heather since 5th grade. Our friendship grew closer as middle school, high school, and the years right after college went by. There was even a time when I felt like I could read Heathers mind without her saying a word. Then I moved thousands of miles away and we both had kids which meant there was little time for us to catch up on the phone...for all the moms out there, why is it that our kids won't give us undisturbed phone time? Anyhoo...this last February Heather told me about her being an alcoholic and I can honestly say I was floored. Never, absolutely ever, did I think that Heather had a drinking problem. We did have a couple crazy nights that we would now roll our eyes at or giggle about but I felt that was fairly normal behavior for a 22 year old...like a right of passage. I spent a few months looking back at all of the wonderful memories of Heather trying to pick them apart for any hint of alcohol addiction and I really couldn't see it. But maybe it was because Heather had a few blatant alcoholic friends and that camoflaged her issues with alcohol. What makes me sad is that even as close as I feel like Heather is to me, we never talked about this very serious issue for the years that she struggled with it. She never even hinted...if she had I may not have even picked up on it since it really never came close to entering my mind. As far as I know, she lived it alone. Somehow she had the strength to figure it out on her own and to own it and start over. Even more spectacular is that she is sharing her story with all of us and helping us learn from her through her blog. She is showing me how to be a supportive friend. She amazes me with her courage and inspires me, as she does many of you. I truly am blessed to have her as a dear friend thru the thick and thin of life! For what it is worth, I hope you are blessed with all of these new adventures in front of you so that you may help many more people out there!

Tiffany said...

PS: so that is why I think blogging is great. Inspiration and comfort can come from everywhere and each and everyones story is unique and amazing... =)

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

I've been waiting for the right moment to say this to you, and the time has come:

BRAIN TWINS!

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