Yes, you read that right. I said that social media makes me feel like a hypocrite. Chances are it makes YOU feel like one too.
You may wonder where this is coming from and frankly- I am surprised it has taken me this long to say it out loud. It’s as if those of us who make a living off of ‘selling an idea and way of life’ on the internet are afraid to utter these words. I guess i’m not anymore.
Recently, I had an “I’m mad as hell…and I am not going to take it anymore” moment that took place almost entirely on social media. The months and days leading up to said event were filled with tears, stress, missed deadlines, bad choices and me leaving a job that I probably never should have taken in the first place.
See, I had built this momentum. Over the last several years I had conquered several goals, I was moving full steam ahead and little by little getting everything I thought I had ever wanted professionally. A thriving website, great SEO, a locally popular newspaper column, great freelancing jobs, social media management clients, weekly radio spots on Indianapolis morning radio, teaching a class on creative writing, one of the highest ranking food podcasts on Itunes and not one but 2 bi-weekly and monthly morning television segments on 2 stations. Things were huge and I felt like I was working towards a final goal. Things were GREAT! (said in my best Tony the Tiger voice…)
Then, I decided to join a company and without getting into details I will just say it was a very ill timed decision and probably poor choice on my part ( I thought I needed to do this and I didn’t). Things started to unravel in my professional life, I felt like work was snowballing and something had to give. I left this job, sold my radio show, cut down all of my responsibilities to just a few and literally crawled under a rock for a while. This was not a good time for me.
Yet all the while I am all smiling pictures, happy little posts and ‘all is right in the world- right??’ online.
What brought on this downward spiral? 2 things.
1. I heard from a local reader who shared with me that she had (HAD!!) enjoyed following/reading my work over the last several years but lately has felt out of touch with my life that I share. Where I was once relatable and represented ‘her life’ I was now touting this crazy paced unattainable life. She went on to say that if she felt that way then others probably did too. Reading this made me feel like crap frankly. What I had once set out to do had turned into a business. A business with a frenetic pace that was supposed to represent the working mom. I had lost touch with my readers. As hard as it was to hear I needed this kick in the butt.
2. At this same time, when I had left this job, I watched in sadness as the drama of it all played out on social media. Everyone wanted to know why and I decided to take the high road and keep my mouth shut. But, even though I literally gave my devices to someone for a few days to stay off of them, I snuck a peek days later and saw all of the questions. The judgement and the gossip was a bit much for me. Deciding to be quiet and stay professional and in so doing not burn bridges had made me look guilty, hapless and frankly- not able to do the job. Nothing was further from the truth.
So I set about to right my ship. I answered each question with honesty and transparency. In doing so I won back a bit of respect I had lost with a few that had thrown their support my way only to watch me sink.
The key here was honesty and transparency on social media.
This is where I may lose a few of you and I hope that isn’t true. In my line of work I see first hand those who are exactly what they say they are and those who are a walking ‘brand’. What I hope you will see is that now more than ever it is important to be who you say you are and live the life you are sharing in each tweet, each Instagram photo and in each Facebook status.
No illusions, no BS.
So that means I really am a woman that struggles with her weight. A wife that is not perfect and that has failed more than once. A mom who has not been 100% there for her kids. A home cook that sometimes makes her family frozen meals or hits the drive through. A friend that might curse too much or have one too many glasses of wine after a long day.
The life you see really is one of laughs, tears, coffee stains, smeared lipstick, mismatched outfits and hugs from my sons and stolen moments with my husband.
Social media can be a mirror- all smoke and images you think you need to project or it can be a window. A snapshot into your life, hobbies and ideas. It is just up to you to decide which image you want to project and if you can live with feeling like a hypocrite. I can’t.