Me at 14 in Art class.

“Brrrrrrrr. What happened to that boy?”

–Birdman (featuring The Clipse), “What Happened to that Boy?”, Birdman, 2002

I decided to stay away from blogging until I had something worthwhile to say. I’m not just an event blogger. I don’t just take photos of food and share stories from my past.

I used to draw. I used to write novels. I used to spend months on projects instead of trying to crank content out to keep — what, relevant? Popular? To show how good I am at social media?

Whatever the reason, I was lost. I was blogging out of control with no end in sight.

This wasn’t the way it meant to be.

An Epiphany

After two solid years of spending the lion’s share of my time on social media and events related to it, I’ve figured out that I’m far happier investing time in creating quality projects than I am doing lots of little things daily to keep fresh in everyone’s mind. I wasn’t doing anything for myself anymore — I was starting to do things because of so many other obligations, and not simply because I could. It was like being 16 all over again.

We might be the sum of our experiences, but we are measured by the sum of what we put out into the world around us — and if we put stuff out that we can’t always stand behind, then what does that add up to?

Christine recently asked me a question that caught me dead in my tracks. It was so alarmingly simple that I’m surprised I hadn’t thought on it before, but the more I thought on it, the more I realized that I’d lost my way and needed to stop figure out what exactly I was doing. It was only four words, but they captured much of what I’ve felt lately — and that question is this:

“What are your goals?”

Why Am I Doing This?

I usually start things for one reason: because they’re interesting. When I started blogging on LiveJournal in 2002, it was because it gave me an outlet to express myself through all the emotional turmoil and confusion that was my transition from high school to university. When I started and Fish ‘n’ Chimps in 2003, I was looking to develop my coding skills even further and put a regular webcomic out about the characters I’d grown to love. I started using Facebook in 2005 because it was “cool” and gave me a better place to represent myself than I would anonymously on other sites like AsianAvenue or BlackPlanet.

I start things because they interest me, and social media was no different. When I started with a Twitter account in ’08, I barely used it, and no one was listening to me. That would change when I finally started meeting people at tweetups by the end of 2010 and building a network of peers, friends and business associates to work with.

But there lies the problem — work at something enough, and it reaches a tipping point where what was fun and interesting suddenly becomes serious. You become marketable. That thing you dabbled in suddenly becomes work.

LiveJournal became less important to keep up as my life became more routine and I found less wonder in each day — forcing myself to write about myself became an uphill battle that I didn’t want to fight. With school, work and a social life, I found myself at home less and less often, which meant my art suffered from my absence, and my content for with it. And while I still use Facebook and connect with my friends, I’ve stopped broadcasting my every thought like I used to and started sharing — almost instinctively — the ideas which I think others would actually respond to.

But social media took that tipping point to an entirely new level.

Blogging Outta Control

I’ve changed a lot over the years of social media, blogging attempts and general Internet consumption… but is it for the better?

Okay, let’s be real — for the most part, bloggers don’t know what the heck they’re doing. They like to party, they like to get free stuff and they like to feel important — but why are they blogging? Ask a blogger what their goals are for their blog and wait to see if they have an answer. What story are they trying to tell? Who is their audience? Does it make them happy?

When I hit that first tweetup a little over two years ago, it was an amazing experience for someone who thrives off of the energy level in a room — I met dozens of new people, tried new places — it was a rush.

My calendar would fill with more and more of these events, like HoHoTO shortly afterwards — one of the craziest parties I’d hit up in a while; TwestivalTO and DefineTO which merged dancing, drinking and competitive karaoke; or even the upcoming Bloggers in Sin City, an unconference specifically for bloggers which I wouldn’t have considered investing in during those earlier days.

Twitter’s very likely been one of the last steps in my transition to becoming a complete adult from the big kid I’ve always been. I’ve held jobs pretty steadily for the last 15 years, but never in any of them did I have to work on being a brand. I was given tasks and I did them — but that’s a heck of a lot simpler than doing things while trying to stand out from a crowd. Or trying to develop your own personal signature or way of doing things. Working a job and trying to do things for a boss is simple cause and effect — but social media sees a lot of effort going toward cause… but without the effects being as obvious when you fire things out into the ether, it’s not the same at all.

The Art of Selling Out

Back in the early days of my social media journey, there were others I looked up to with what was almost a reverence, wondering how they managed to make a name for themselves. The Zaighams, the Jos, the Craigs and the Casies of the world – the people I saw out there with thousands of followers; everyone knew their names, and they just seemed to exist on an entirely different level.

The years go by, though, and you see that everyone else is just as human as you are. Everyone else might have some idea of what they’re doing, but they’re not working any less than you are. They’re not any luckier than you are. Oftentimes, that person you’re envying is probably who you could be if you were willing to put the years of work, network building and sheer effort needed to get there.

I’ve learned that nothing comes easy, but in that quest for the best, you can lose sight of who you are. Of what you’re supposed to do. Of why you’re doing it.

Waking Up

So, social media, my eyes are open and I’m awake for the first time in a good while. There’s a lot I need to do, but you know what?

I have all the time in the world to get it done.

Until the next post,

–case p.

Author: Casey E. Palmer

Calling the Great White North his home, Casey‘s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff. When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him. Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

17 thoughts on “THE GREAT SOCIAL MEDIA STORY: Man in the Mirror”

  1. Interesting that this comes on the heels of — or is it DURING? — your Scintilla project, which has you blogging at least once a day. Did that project inspire this post? (By the way, did you know that if I go to your homepage, this post doesn’t appear?)

    1. On the heels of 🙂 I decided to do 13/16 of the Scintilla Project posts, mostly because the three remaining posts didn’t resonate with me as much, and I didn’t want to force mediocre stories into it. It was like fitting a square peg into a round hole.

      Scintilla probably played a role; I was feeling a little burnt out, and Christine inadvertently got me to ask myself WHY I was feeling that way. So this is my assessment and first steps in moving in a new, better direction.

      As for it not showing up, that’s disconcerting — thought I’d fixed that. I’ll take another look; thanks!

      1. What actually happened is that my comment went through and I get notifications without me “confirming my subscription” or whatever I’m supposed to have done. Which is good, because I wasn’t going to confirm it on principal. (That’s the principal that I’m tired of confirming things.) And this post still doesn’t appear on your homepage. DON’T YOU KNOW I’M TRYING TO LINK TO IT FROM MY STORIFY??? Do _I_ have to do all the psychic predictions around here?

        1. Okay, well that’s good on one front, because it means CommentLuv is doing the auto-email updates, so I’ll shut off the email subscription through Jetpack.

          As for it not showing up… I don’t even know. Have you cleared your cache? I’ve looked at my site on at least 6 different devices and browsers, and it’s showing up just fine….

  2. I value epiphanies, revelations, turning points, all that. I’m glad for Scintilla for the 4-5 connections I made (including you, my new Internet boyfriend) and if it helped you reach a very important life decision, even better!

    I hadn’t heard of the Sin City conference until you started talking about it on Twitter. Looks like something I’ll be sad I’m missing out on. Maybe another year…

    1. Thanks, Erica 🙂 I must admit — I was thinking of joining Yeah Write, but… I don’t really get it. Maybe I’m just a blockhead, but every time I try to understand the system I’m all “whuh?!”

      Anyhoo, just food for thought 🙂

      If you’re interested in #BiSC, there’s actually one of the women going who currently can’t make it and is trying to sell her spot if you look at Twitter under that hashtag. Perhaps we’ll see you yet :O Officially, it’s the last year they’re doing it, but perhaps someone else will pick up the mantle afterward?

      Thanks as always for stopping by! May we continue being blog buddies 😀 (And in an Internet relationship, of course.)

  3. Hey Case,
    It’s amazing how sometimes we “can’t see the forest for the trees”. We take on so many little things, thinking that it’s not a big deal, sounds like a great idea, I’ll meet some new people, I’ll do better work or whatever we think we’ll accomplish, then…. A friend comes a long and BOOOM.
    We’re re-thinking everything… lol
    You’ve been a good friend to me Case, and you’ve opened my eyes to things I thought I had a handle on… obviously I was wrong.
    Glad I could do the same for you, just this one time…
    1) Learn to say no
    2) DECIDE on your goal
    2) Remove all obstacles
    2a) ask friends for help. Sometimes we can.
    3) Knock it out of the park

    1. Learning to count? SO important 🙂

      Thanks for your friendship so far, Chris — that conversation on Tuesday really helped to guide me to a point where I’m really starting to think that I know what it is I’m trying to go for. Next time you ask me, I’ll have a far better answer for you 🙂

      I don’t quite know what my goals are yet, but I do know that they’re not what I thought they were for the last little while — there’s something more out there; I just don’t know what it is yet.

      Here’s to a long-lasting friendship!

  4. Great post Casey, I really needed to read that. You are correct, when that thing you dabble in becomes your job, it changes everything.
    I haven’t seen you in a LONG time, we need to catch up sir!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sandy 🙂 It was time that I woke up from the ebbs and flows of social media. When it start having too much sway over your life, you might not exactly be living the way you’re supposed to anymore!

      But yes — it’s been months upon months; was e11even the last time we crossed paths? If so, that’s INSANE. Let’s figure something out!

  5. Amazeballs. Can I say amazeballs here? Too late. I did. I never even heard of those people you referenced and I thought I was cool. Reality check.

    Nice to connect with you this evening during #blogchat. Hope it’s the beginning of a beautiful twiendship. 😉

    1. Amazeballs is 100% accepted and even RECOMMENDED for interaction on this blog 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Many of the names above reference bloggers up here in Toronto, Canada and what goes on in our blogosphere 🙂 I’d eventually hope to keep growing my friendships (and twiendships!) internationally, but I’m starting my introspection and study where I live — just to see if there’s anything I can learn here first 🙂

      Let’s keep on connecting 😀

  6. Christine’s question resonates with me as well. I enjoy food blogging and vlogging right now but if someone asked me why I did it or if I had a goal in mind I can’t give a straight answer. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed the attention. Seeing record personal numbers break is a real kick for me right now. Aside from that though, I don’t know what I want out of blogging/vlogging. I knew what I wanted out of Twitter, to make new friends. I’ve definitely done that and then some. Now I’m almost as bored with Twitter as I am with Facebook before it. It served its purpose so now what?

    1. Hey man,

      I know we’ve discussed this topic some more since you left this comment, but I still think a great comment deserves a great reply.

      For me, getting attention was good… for a while… but the novelty only lasts for so long before you start looking for something MORE. I’ve gotten more friends than I ever could’ve imagined through Twitter; I’ve translated the DECADES of relationships I’ve developed into a SOLID audience on Facebook — but yes, without something greater to associate them with, yeah, they start losing value as a year becomes 2, becomes 5, becomes 8 (i.e. how long I’ve been on Facebook so far).

      I feel like I have a better idea of what I want from blogging now, but I’m not quite there yet — I’ve gone from finding out who everyone is to showing everyone what I can do… and I feel like I’ve reached a point where I use all that to discover what comes next in this journey through social media!

      For now, though? I guess we just make the most of what we’ve got!

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