Look at Me! Look at Me...The Ugly Side of Social
I'm a man, a father, a husband. In that order. Not by priority, but chronology. There was a time I really, really, really, really wanted to succeed as a full time blogger. Why not? It was a marriage of so many things I enjoyed - writing, technology, creativity, and of course unknown opportunity. And man, did I go in. I did everything back then that everyone now is calling one-to-one consumer engagement. I experimented with Twitter until I finally got it. I toiled and tooled around on Facebook until I got it. Pinterest, Google+ (yes that too) and LinkedIn. Even Friendster, just to get really real with you. And the better I got at promoting myself - my products (writing and my particular brand of storytelling) - the more positive responses I began to get. And by no means do I have the followings of some of my peers in the game but by myself I have more followers across social media than many of the companies I've worked for. And if I don't, I connect with my fans without effort. There is no strategy, no management, no analytics. It's just me and my people. Of course there is, but it comes naturally to me.
And here's where everything went screwy. So here's the deal, full disclosure, EPayneTheDad has, for many years, been in pursuit of meaning, self, identity, purpose and reason for being. It has angered me, frustrated me and many days left me depressed, unable to function, relate or be any good to the people who depended on me at the time. But all the while I was promoting myself in an effort to get ahead, pull even with my wife, find acceptance somewhere where acceptance has been just out of grasp for as long as I can remember, first grade to be exact. And where I wasn't looking for it, I found it - acceptance. From the sea of avatars that populate social media that have over time seconded my mellifluous musings here on this blog and anywhere else. Being just as human as anyone else the affirmation from the nebula of the Internet triggered my ego and inflated it so at times it has been difficult for my head to get through the door at home. It's made me never wrong and hardly unapologetic because in my mind I have been wrong for good reason and deserve to be cut the slack as anyone completely out of their minds should. Via Social I actually tricked myself into believing I was better and occasionally holier, than thou. Now that I know this I can't even imagine what it has been like to live with and for that matter, attempt to reason with me - the self-declared Mr. Good Guy who actually isn't that good at all. I shared with a fellow married man as recently as this morning that my motivation for doing things for others hasn't been for the good of others but rather for how it would make me look or seem in the eyes of others and the shocking realization for me is that I have been doing this for YEARS! And I can only recognize this now because after seeing firsthand the pain and brokenness I've caused (which never made any sense to a guy like me - figured something was wrong with everyone else) and spending time in intense prayer and personal reflection I've recently moved into a space where I am doing things purely for the well being of others and I'm here to state that although it feels a bit foreign, it also feels pretty darn good.
Be warned, especially men: hanging out on social is cool if that's what you want to do. If it's your job that's fine too. But be sure keep your mind and your heart guarded and maybe more importantly have real friends - ones who are in the flesh who will hold you accountable and keep you and your ego in check.