Not once, twice, or three times. Many times, I’ve been told that I’m a social media junkie. It’s true. On Facebook, I post personal photos, tell funny stories, document my marathon training, tell jokes, share videos, even re-post a meme or two 🙂 Several posts a day! I also post photos on Instagram, mostly of training runs/swims/rides. I also spend a fair amount of time scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, enjoying the small glimpse I get into the lives of my friends and family, and enjoying the laughter and smiles and inspiration that their posts bring me.
This is in sharp contrast to the other members of my family, who seldom post photos, stories, updates, (with the exception of Jacob, who apparently is very active on Twitter!) I’ve been called out on it a few times…ok, several times…and I’m not gonna lie-I get defensive. I’ve thought a lot about why I enjoy social media as much as I do…more than the average person in my generation, I think. Not that anyone cares, but here’s what I’ve come up with.
Face-to-face social interactions are scary. Exhausting. Worrying. I’m an introvert by nature, making social interactions absolutely tiring. Being an introvert really means that social interactions eat up a good amount of our energy, meaning that we need to retreat at some point in order to gain some energy back Other people (ahem, Doug) seek out social interaction, knowing that the interaction will actually energize them. A lot of people assume that introverts are shy. That is sometimes the case, but not always. In fact, when I tell people that I’m an introvert, they often say, “no way!” If that’s the case, I probably feel safe with you and let my guard down. I wouldn’t consider myself shy, but I do know that I am an introvert, with a touch of social anxiety.
For that reason, social media is appealing to most introverts. To me, anyway. It’s a safe place for us to be social and interact with friends and family. It sounds a little selfish, and maybe it is, but we can interact and be social on terms that make us feel safe and secure. Believe me, I know avoiding uncomfortable situations is not healthy, but we all have to pick our battles and this is a tough one for me to fight against. We can carefully think ahead to what we want to say, knowing that we won’t be caught off guard without an appropriate or timely reaction. Yep, our terms. Safe.
I can be kinda funny. I’ve never asked (because I don’t want to hear the answer), but I think most people would say that I tend to be serious. I definitely appreciate a good sense of humor, but I’m TERRIBLE at telling jokes. My timing is awful and I usually end up laughing so hard while telling the joke that I can’t be understood. When I hear something witty, I will likely take HOURS, no, DAYS to come up with a witty response. Yes, humor is in me, but it takes a while to pull it out of me. But I can’t tell you how many times I post a funny story about one of my students, or share a funny photo, and it makes people smile or laugh or just feel happy (or so they tell me). It’s a great feeling to know that I can bring a spot of happiness to people, even if it is in the context of social media.
I have a lot to say. Another pitfall of being an introvert is that many times, while I might enjoy taking part in a conversation, I find it difficult to bust into a conversation. And when I do find the space to jump in, having carefully chosen the words I will use, the conversation has moved on, and what I had planned to say wouldn’t make sense anymore. With social media, conversations happen a little differently (some would say not authentically…whatever), allowing introverts a safe way to jump into a conversation. Even more, we feel HEARD. Which is something that doesn’t happen often in real life conversations, and is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time.
I want to inspire. I want people to know that they have the ability to set goals and crush them! Believe me, 6 years ago, I would have NEVER thought that I’d be training for my third marathon in 2017. But here I am…doing just that. Yes, I run a lot. Yes, I post a lot of photos and stories and this and that and everything else about running. Because I love it and because it has completely changed my life. It has changed my body, my mind, my well-being. Because I find it difficult to talk to people, I feel that the only way I can possibly offer any sort of inspiration is through social media. So, sorry folks, the running photos are gonna keep comin’! I know this has turned some people off, and I’ve even lost some “friends” (were they ever friends? I guess not), but if I can inspire at least once person, it will be worth it.
So, there ya have it. My obsession with social media. Bottom line, it gives me safe place to be, well, me. I know a fair amount of you won’t understand and may counter me, and that’s ok. I’m just expressing my thoughts, opinions, and experiences in the hopes that people will understand me a bit more.