For the longest time, I thought I hated social media. I was wrong. I don’t hate social media. I don’t understand it and I can’t figure out how to use it effectively. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!
I readily admit I have a personal defect. When I have a few minutes of free time, I am eager to tune into CNN (aka “Impeachment Porn” – Saturday Night Live) and hear what our Narcissist in Chief has tweeted for the day. I like politics. That’s why I watch Stephen Colbert’s monologue almost every night (I actually watch it on a 22 hour delay because I can’t keep my eyeballs open that late). I like to read, and I’m excited when I find a window of time to turn a few pages. I have a wife and four kids. I have actually locked myself in the bathroom and sat on the throne with my pants up “pretending” just so I can get some uninterrupted reading done for seven minutes.
But I never, ever, think, Oooh, I’ve got some time to check facebook! Let’s see what’s new on Instagram! Twitter is calling my name! I’m super busy, but so is literally everyone I know. They all have time to post, comment and “like.” Social media seems important and enjoyable to everyone but me. What’s wrong with me? That’s not a rhetorical question. I need your help.
In my personal life, I force myself to engage with social media for a few minutes about once a week. I frantically scroll and “like” as fast as I can so my friends and family will know I still love them. If I think of something I think is funny, I’ll throw a comment or two in there. I’ll never be the 57th person to comment, “You look so cute,” or “I’m so proud of you”. I don’t enjoy seeing pictures from my friends’ vacations. I don’t look forward to seeing a picture of pretty scenery. I hate dogs and dislike cats, so, since social media is 2/3rds pets, I scroll “sans like” a lot. It’s not that I’m jealous. I don’t wish I had enough money to afford a European vacation or wish that I had enough free time to hike or camp more. I just don’t care. I’m clearly broken.
I realize how negative this all sounds. Please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE PEOPLE. I cherish my relationships with friends and family. I really don’t care a lot about money, which is good, because I’m not particularly adept at generating it. I spend about a thousand hours a week coaching high school soccer, which is a paid position. But being a paid high school coach is excruciatingly similar to volunteer work from a financial standpoint. I do it because I love the kids, and helping them develop into little productive adults is just about my very favorite. I am not a hermit. I am not a sourpuss. But social media makes me feel like I belong on the island of misfit toys. I need your help!
As a writer, I am also a social media failure. When I publish a blog post, I post it to facebook, Instagram and Twitter, too. I have learned that if I spend a few bucks on facebook, I can get hundreds of new eyeballs on my writing. A few people “like” my facebook page, and a few others subscribe to receive my blog via email every time. Slowly but surely, my readership is growing, and I am thankful.
I write about recovery from alcoholism. There is a large and active recovery community on social media, especially Instagram, where I follow recovery warriors almost exclusively. When I read their passages of inspiration, again I feel like a social media failure. I just don’t get it. Reading an Instagram post about taking it one day at a time or letting go and letting God in a new font with a unique background does nothing for me. Even something new and creative delivered in a three-liner with a background of a sunrise just doesn’t inspire me the way it clearly inspires the rest of the recovery community. This is clear because as I am gagging just a bit I notice the 489 “likes” the post has generated. It makes me feel like I’m doing recovery wrong, and I’m sick of hiding my brokenness.
I need help, and I’ve divided my plea for assistance into three categories for your convenience. Please determine which category most accurately applies to you, and give me some much needed feedback.
To my friends and family: You know how much time I spend on my writing, and how I feel like I’m on a mission from God to help end the stigma of alcoholism. I know you know because you compliment my writing and tell me my mission is important in person, in text messages and in emails. I am eternally thankful for your support. But your silence is deafening on my blog website and through social media. I can’t figure out if you never comment, “like” or share my writing because my subject matter is so heavy and you don’t want to “like” my pain, or if you just don’t have time to read my lengthy posts. I really don’t care why, but most of you have offered to help me in my recovery, so here’s your chance.
I am far from understanding the algorithm facebook employs, but I have a pretty good inkling that engagement helps spread posts. So, you don’t have to read every word I write. I am a windbag, and you’re not an alcoholic. I get it. Could you please help me anyway? Touch that little stupid thumbs-up. Comment on the blog or on social media. You don’t need to say anything profound. Just a, “Keep it up,” or “Do your fingers hurt from all that babble?” will do nicely. Maybe consider a share. You can include a disclaimer to your friends. Copy and paste this: “I’m not an alcoholic, and I know none of you are alcoholics, but my friend, Matt, thinks the planet is covered in alcoholics so I am sharing this in case you might have a second cousin or an old college roomate with a drinking problem who might benefit from this gibberish.” You can just give me that little sad crying facebook face without reading a word I write. I will love you forever.
To my fellow recovery warriors: Do you find inspiration in posts of encouragement? I really want to know. I am a year and a half sober. I am still pretty new at dealing with emotions instead of drinking them away. I have come to the belief that happiness is somewhat elusive. It comes and goes and we are powerless to control it. Sometimes we are happy, but other times we are sad, angry, confused or hurt. I am learning to let these emotions roll over me like waves, and know the tide will recede just in time for the next one to roll in. I can try to get enough sleep and eat right, but I can’t will myself to feel happy. Joy is not an attitude, it is an emotion that I welcome when it shines down on me and remember with longing when it doesn’t. Reading that I control my attitude does not lift my spirits. Does it lift yours? I’m serious, I would love to hear your answer. I am trying to grow and develop as a person. That growth has been stunted by booze for decades, so your help is very much appreciated.
To the general social media world: Did you develop a hatred for me about a thousand words ago when I said I hate dogs? If so, why are you still reading? Please comment, because I really want to know. Let me have it. I can take it. That’s all I’ve got for you. I look forward to your feedback.
I used to resist social media because I thought it would go away. Now I use it reluctantly for the aforementioned reasons and with the aforementioned dismal rate of success. I’m not a hot 20 something, and I’m not a kitten riding on the back of a dog. Nothing is going to change any of that. But with your help, your suggestions, your reluctantly but generously offered “likes” and your feedback, maybe I can be a little less of a social media misfit.
Just know that if I have offended you with my snarkiness, I would love to give you a big hug and spread the real-life, in-person love we all so desperately need, whether we know it or not. Now, please bring on the answers, even if you suggest that I work more cat pics into my writing.