You know what would make life easier? If we all had magic wands and could will into existence anything we ever wanted.
We’d sit around, wave our magic wands, and fulfill our wildest dreams every day from sunrise till sunset.
Except that’s not how humans work.
A brunch conversation Amanda Hirsch and I led for the Women’s Information Network highlighted two obvious complications to this scenario:
- We could spend years clutching a wand in our hands and never once suspect that it possesses magical powers. In fact, we’re more likely to use our wand as a selfie stick.
- If we suddenly tapped into our power to will things into existence, we’d immediately get hung up on what it is we actually want. And, for heaven’s sake, what would our friends say?
Our brunch conversation centered on the idea that social media heavily influence our ideas about who we think we are and what we think we want.
Several people shared stories of social media launching their life in a new direction.
One woman talked about how blogging during a summer abroad caused her to pursue a completely new career path.
Another told of a friend whose outspoken and passionate blogging led to a plum position with a national LGBT advocacy organization.
Still another mentioned a job candidate whose awkward interview counted against him, but when her team viewed the candidate’s hilarious Twitter profile they hired him because they recognized he was a fit.
Clearly, the things we say and do online have an an enormous impact on how life unfolds after we power down our devices.
So why not use social media to be fully ourselves and go after what we want?
Many of the women worried that voicing their political opinions would push away family members or coworkers.
Others struggled to create a balance between making their voice heard online all the time—”Hey, world! Look what I’m eating!”—and being fully present with the friends sitting across from them. Who might, in turn, be struggling to create the same balance.
What we’re willing and unwilling to say, reflected through social media, reveal several needs:
- To clarify what we intend to accomplish with our online presence. A clear intention will guide what we say and how we say it.
- To choose an appropriate level of transparency. There’s no right way to approach this. We can segment our audience or share everything with everyone. Only ever reposting content has an impact, and so does oversharing our emotional filigree. Our impact in each case is different.
- To get our hands dirty. Talking about social media is no substitution for experimentation. Giving ourselves permission to try new things and strike out is essential. If we want to get good at social media tomorrow, the only possible place to start is where we are today.
The Women’s Information Network members who joined our brunch conversation left with a wealth of insight plus concrete new actions they were prepared to take.
One woman recognized the extent to which she wasn’t merely her own label of choice—”Feminist!” or “Wonk!”—but that it was time to meditate on the identity, both complex and fully her, that she would project.
A second woman declared she would start sharing her political opinions openly on social media. She also resolved to provide rationales for her beliefs to fully explain herself to and invite conversation with loved ones she knew would disagree.
A third woman chose to abandon her nagging thoughts—”Is posting this right? Is it not right?”—and simply take more actions on social media to discover what works for her.
It’s a beautiful privilege to witness a room full of people as they become emboldened to try something new.
The truth is that, in the age of the internet, each of us wields enormous influence.
Given the number of social media outlets we’re plugged into, we’re like Aladdin ambling through life with a lamp . . . and no clue that we’re a rub or two away from unleashing enough power to permanently alter the fabric of our reality.
And we began to see this. All that’s required is curiosity, action, patience and giving ourselves room for discovery.