50 Days of Gray (My Social Media Silence)

20 02 2015

I don’t think it started out as an intentional effort. A new year deserves change and although I’m not a huge fan, I’m not a hater either. But the new year often causes me to look around and run a scorecard on the many little boxes I have in my life. I’m an introvert. I mean a real honest to goodness introvert. My coping mechanism is I married an extrovert. Now she’s not a 100% extrovert, meaning she can handle being alone pretty well (especially if a good book is handy). But my sweetheart can provide the best cover for me when I enter the field of land mines in social settings. She can handle dinner conversations and grocery store aisle happenstances better than most MLB batters can handle an inside pitch. So I’ve got the “in-person” limitations of introversion covered until death do us part.

I still want to be able to connect with people though. I’m not a total hermit. I have a life. A dang good one in fact. I know I’m sometimes seen as fairly unapproachable. A friend once told me that he was actually scared of me before they got to know me. Okay… More than one friend has told me the same story. It’s a curse.

But then came Social Media. I could share all the little things that make my life so good with as many people as I wanted to include. Heck, I even let people I’m not friends with look in on my rock’n cool world by turning off the privacy settings! All of the sudden I’d pass people in the hallway at work and instead of darting for the first open door or staring at the floor, they would say, “Hey tell your kid congrats on pitching that great game the other night” or ask “so did you like that recipe you made last night?” Now I’m not saying I enjoy those moments all the time, but as long as we can at least have something to say to each other as we pass in the hallway other than “what’s up?” along with the obligatory chin thrust, I’m happy.

Instagram had become my go to app for breaking down the wall of the introvert.

But then came the insidiousness of the over share. I have to give thanks to my Sister’s kids for shaking me back into reality here. They coined the phase “Uncle Allen Post Worthy”. It had reached a point where I simply posted too often about too many things. My intent in participating on the three primary Social Media platforms has always been to show the world there is no reason for you to be scared of me or to see me as unapproachable. I share about my good life. How I’m proud of my wife and boys. The fact I love Jesus and the methods of telling His story. Read my posts and you’ll see I’m into baseball and I have a dream to open a baseball lifestyle clothing store someday. I also enjoy reading about my friends worlds. My old friends and my new friends. I’ve even got friends I’ve never met in person! I’m often encouraged and challenged by the posts I see. I’m also inspired by so many of them. But I also used to shake my head at some of them… that was until I just decided to unfriend, block or hide the repeat offenders.

So the fact my niece and nephew, affirmed by my oldest son, put my over sharing practice on my radar, it occurred to me to look a little deeper into that box of my life as the new year started. Was there some other less “good life” reason I was sharing?

It turns out there was.

One hard lesson I’ve learned living the life of an introvert is that affirmation doesn’t come easy. It’s not easily given nor easily received. That little “like” button… that blue thumps up button was a game changer. The double tap to a red heart and the yellow star of favorite fame. Those are gauges to measure the extent of agreement for the ways of my world.

And honestly… that’s not a good thing. Upon reflecting on my Social Media rituals I found that I had stopped being encouraged, challenged and inspired by others. I had become a gauge watcher of my own posts. How many likes did that one get? How many reposts, how many on this, how many on that? What a selfish way to be. What a one way street I was on.

My oldest son has 67 more followers on Instagram than I do. I have 1227 posts to date. He has 23. The last post I made (7 weeks ago) has 9 likes. His last post had 68. Granted the people that follow him are much more active on Instagram than my followers are. The thought occurred to me though that maybe my posts were not as impactful (i.e. Likeable) because they happened too often. You know… kind of like how ads become less impactful the more you see them. We all kind of tune them out. Again, a self centered thought process. I was trying to convince myself that maybe if I didn’t post as often, I could get more likes and have a greater impact.

I found myself in a quandary. I know, what a stupid thing to be perplexed about. There are so many more important things in life than wasting time thinking about Social Media. But stay with me. This is a box in my life, and out of all the boxes in my life, it had become dark. Selfishness is darkness. It’s not pleasing to God or man. So when I take the time to inspect all of my boxes and I find one that doesn’t have Light spilling out of the gaps around the lid, that’s an indication that something is wrong.

So I took a break. I thought 40 days (a good Bible based chunk of time) of no posting original content on any of my personal accounts ought to do it. That would reset my purpose and provide a nice and much needed cleanse. Oh I’d still repost and share other people’s content on a limited basis; just not create any of my own. I mean there had to be rules for the 40 day self imposed fast of course!

The 40 days have come and gone. I’ve been incredibly busy at work the last couple of weeks so no time to post anything original lately. It’s been 50 days now. 50 days of taking pictures that no one other than me will ever see. 50 days of learning it’s okay that I’m paying more at the pump than last week and I don’t have to post about it so that the world will know what a travesty that is. Everyone has to buy gas. Everyone knows the price is going back up a little bit. No one needs to be told about that on Social Media. I get it.

I’ve learned a lot about myself as I’ve gone through the mental exercise of fighting the urge to post about every little thing. I know I really do have a lot of wonderful aspects of my life that are in fact worth posting about. I just need to stop looking at the gauges and start focusing directly on the wonderful aspects themselves. Those are the things that make life worth living. I don’t need likes, shares and favorites to tell me that.

So now the only trouble is figuring out what I want my first post to be (after this blog entry). One side of me thinks it needs to be epic… the other side just wants it to be simple. Either way I won’t care if it gets 5 likes or 500. If only one person is encouraged, challenged or inspired, or more importantly sees the Light shining, I’ll be happy. Oh and of course if it helps with those awkward hallway interactions… All the better! #happyposting

PS. About the title of this post: Just an attention grabber. Made you look didn’t it?


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