Open up and get real
“For me, social media has nothing to do with tools and technology. Instead, social media is powerful for its potential for connecting real human beings in the real world — face-to-face.”
– Trey Pennington, May 23, 2011
I sit behind the computer at a blank blog post in the monitor on my left. On my laptop’s built-in display is Mark Schaefer‘s post about Trey Pennington entitled The Problem With Personas. I want to shut both of these down and do something around my home, but I feel compelled to write something. I want to be brief, but I have no idea if I can.
I never knew Trey nor followed him or what he’d done, but it looks like he was well-admired among the social media community. Through Mark’s post, I learned that he committed suicide a few days ago. I am so sad to hear this, and I feel for his family and friends. I know the pain you feel is real.
In The Problem With Personas, Mark brings up many good points that cut me to the heart.
Whatever we say online builds the brand, the reputation, that others who pay attention to us see. We have a tremendous ability to influence that across so many different channels. It’s become easy to paint a picture that things are rosy, when in all likelihood they might not be.
That appears to have been the case for Trey. Browsing over his Twitter feed, reading his blog posts, you would have no idea what was really going on with him offline. He painted a picture that things were okay, but in reality he was becoming consumed with depression.
As someone who operates in the social media space, who is looking to get hired for work in this space, it’s a scary thing to think about. I want people to see value in me and what I do so that they will hire me. I don’t want to scare others off by sharing deep, personal problems. But they’re there.
And yet where so many are trying to paint a rosy picture, being real and genuine just might be that thing that helps me stand out. I don’t know for sure, but I’m going to try.
In 2002, I lost a great job. A number of things were going on at that time with the work and where I was, and it really was no longer a right fit for me. Unfortunately, my family was nowhere near prepared for the loss of income. The job market wasn’t rosy at the time, and our financial problems escalated to where we wound up selling our house and moving into a smaller apartment.
For me, I had begun to deal with emotional things that I’d never dealt with before. Depression runs in my family. I’ve had extended family members commit suicide. Earlier in 2002, I went from being diagnosed with bipolar disorder to the more accurate diagnosis of adult ADHD with depression. Fortunately, there was medicine that could help with it.
The circumstances we found ourselves in compounded my anxiety and depression. Depression makes you feel helpless, like you’re worth nothing, and all you want is for the pain to go away. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed. There were times I thought about crossing the double yellow lane while driving. I’m thankful that I saw a counselor and psychiatrist, who both told me that it was okay for me to be anxious or depressed. Anyone in my circumstances would probably feel that way.
I’d started blogging at the beginning of 2002, and I used my blog at that time as an emotional outlet. That’s why I called it the Journey Inside My Mind. I’ve gone back and read some of the posts; there were some really dark moments. I’ve never deleted that blog nor those posts because they serve to remind me and maybe others of what went on, and that I came out of it okay.
In 2002 there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no podcasting. There weren’t social media meetups to find out about and attend. Networking events were found in the newspaper and usually cost money to attend. Nevertheless, I had a few friends invite me to some of their groups, for which I’m truly grateful.
I also had some close relationships with friends from church, and they were very much aware of our circumstances and needs. Some gave us food. Some let us stay at their home when the electricity had been shut off and we couldn’t afford to get it turned back on. One friend saw my tattered winter coat and gave me an almost brand-new one. He also gave me a study Bible that I still use today. My faith that had been greatly tested grew so much through that experience.
Why am I so passionate about taking online connections into the real world?
Because it’s so hard to be completely real online. When we spend time together in-person, the guard can come down and we can open up and really get to know one another.
Deeper connections than can only be made online.
I’ve got more to say about this, especially given my recent circumstances over the past few years. That can wait for another post.
Open up. Pick up the phone. Meet someone for coffee or somewhere you can talk about what’s really going on. Feel free to call me if you need to.
Related Post: Promise Me Something
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