What I Have Learned About Social Media

We are a generation who wants validation. We’ve been given a dozen tools that let us been seen, known, valued and appreciated for our selfies and our coffee choices and our quotes and our purchases. It’s no wonder it turns us into people who want to be seen, known, liked and appreciated. We jump through hoops for the praise of others. We live in the realm of numbers.
— Hannah Brencher

We live in a world of constant comparison. A world that is honestly, very cluttered and full of people making noise. Instagram and facebook take too much time out my day as I find myself religiously checking updates and, if we are being vulnerable here, seeing a whole lot of people who I compare myself to. 

 Now many people have written beautiful words on this topic - on the topic of how our offline world is a whole lot more messy than what we portray. How we are so much less perfect and we glamorize our own life, which makes comparison stupid and like comparing ourselves to a mirage.

 But I want to share with you today a few lessons that I've learned about the online world. From second shooting with photographers, bumping into instagram friends in person, and from interning in social media. These are my lessons from the road: 

People are a whole lot more awkward in person than they are online. So if you are awkward, you are so not alone.

 I'm an awkward person. Friendly, bubbly, definitely love meeting people - but definitely still awkward. I say things and second guess myself a whole lot. Yet what I have found is that everyone is kinda awkward. Seriously. Everyone. 

 One time, I was at a local community networking event at a hip downtown shop and all sorts of fabulous creatives were there. I remembering observing how awkward so many of these people are: these people who love their community, post beautifully eloquent things to social media, and who seem so flawless from a distance.

They are awkward when making small talk too. Maybe us creatives are even more awkward at small talk than the rest of the world because we know so much about people we've never - or briefly - met. 

Your opportunities are yours. Others' opportunities are theirs. You are unique. Your path is different. Embrace it.

 This winter, I was in a great place creatively. I flew out to Las Vegas and got to photograph + interview some women who has come out of prostitution. I was collaborating with my local nonprofit boutique Others. I was asked to come on as social media intern at Unseen and took their staff portraits. I was booking weddings.

 Yet when I saw another photographer or another person who had a super cool opportunity or project, I felt myself getting jealous and self doubt crept in. "Why wasn't I asked to do this? Why can't I do cool things like that?" 

 Why? Because it wasn't mine. I had my own thing. The truth is, my schedule couldn't handle more than what I had. God had given me what I had and asked me to be faithful with it. Finish things. Do well. 

 So friends, take your opportunities and treat them like gold. Because someone else may be wishing they had them. It's kinda the whole "starving kids in Africa" thing your mom told you about vegetables as a kid. 

Numbers are a nasty beast that intend to suck all the life and joy out of you. There. I said it. 

Oh numbers + social media. The never-ending battle where comparison creeps in.

 This month, I'm leading a workshop at Others on Instagram + storytelling. There are going to be people attending who have a whole lot more followers than I do. A whole lot more. I've had to fight feeling daunted by this and to believe that my voice matters. My voice carries weight even when I feel like maybe it's a bit flimsy because of the lack of numbers behind it.

 Numbers will never complete you. Whether you have 20 or 20k followers - there will always be someone with more. Always. It's not wrong to seek growth, to seek more people to hear your story, but it does not complete you. Remember that. Whether you are running a personal Instagram account or trying to build a brand's Facebook page. Numbers are not the answer.

Above all: if you have something to say, say it. If you have something worth doing, do it. 

That's what I have to leave you with: say it. do it. It matters. You matter.

I'm going to leave you with a few quotes from Hannah Brencher. Please stop on her words. Soak them in. They are worth repeating.

Your sense of worth should never boil down to a good Instagram post or a sexy filter though. It should never have anything to do with numbers. Not followers, either. Followers don’t change the fact that you fail people. Or let people down. Or regret people. Followers don’t mean you’re not still the regret of someone else. They wash away quickly. They don’t show up for you at 2am. Don’t get so crazy about them. Don’t think you are so important. Just do something that is follow-worthy. Keep the focus on others. Make people think. Think more on your own actions. Above all, be who you say you are.
— Hannah Brencher
That’s the best gift you are ever going to give someone - the permission to feel safe in their own skin. To feel worthy. To feel like they are enough.
— Hannah Brencher

You are worthy. You are enough.