I Finally Understand Social Media!

Holy Shit....

I finally get it.  The whole idea of social media has plagued me since the beginning.  Seriously?.... who cares about what is going on in my day to day life.  I have engaged - of course- because everyone and their mother was engaged.  But the truth is I didn’t really understand why.  

I read “The Thank You Economy” by Guy Waynerchuk, but still it did not really sink in why social media is so powerful.  
And then recently, it was brought to light that several very high profile photographers were actually plagiarizing and using material that was not theirs on blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts.  

How many followers do you have?  How many people do you follow?  How many like my post, my tweet, my Instagram?  Oh the pressure!!!  The term “following” is completely incorrect...  As kids we were taught to be leaders not followers so the idea of “following” was just plain weird to me.  Why would anyone want to follow me?  What makes me follow-able?  I’m not that interesting.  I’m like everyone else - living a busy life as a mother, wife, photographer, business person - I’m making sure the fridge is full and the stupid laundry is done and I occasionally make the bed.  (I hate laundry and mail)  
Finally,  today it hit me....  It’s not following - it’s connecting on a different level.  CONNECTION - that is what all humans crave and that’s why social media has become what it is today.  
I like your image, I like your thought - I am connected to you.  You like me I like you - we're one big happy family....  (I know you are singing the rest of the Barney song right now)

Why did the plagiarism bother me so much?  Beyond being an issue of stealing from someone else - I now know that it wasn’t you who I was connecting with and reading about.  It was bullshit and everyone who read it was betrayed.  We were betrayed the same way we would be if a friend lied right in front us.  

We believed your story - what you said - it moved us - but it wasn’t  you.  I had been advised that if I wanted to grow my social network I needed to blog everyday, to search the web for inspiration and ideas - but that bothered me.  It meant that I would be fishing for something to say instead of just sharing my story with the world.  

The basis of any relationship is trust and authenticity.  Without those two bricks of a solid foundation even a virtual connectedness is compromised.

“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night of day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
-William Shakespeare

Can any words be more true?  We all have a story to share- to exchange- to connect to.
Your story is your own as mine is my own.  I am enjoying meeting people that I connected with first on social media and then met in person.  In most cases the first time we met I hugged that person because I felt like I knew them - not because I followed them.  
I won’t search for material to talk about - I won’t betray the trust of those who have connected with me.  I will share my stories and hope that you share yours too.  I hope that we meet and can then talk instead of type.  I will know your children from the pictures and stories you share and you will know mine.  When we meet you will know that the words you read came from my heart and not the internet.  When I put my head down on my pillow at the end of each day I know I have been true to myself and therefore true to those I have connected with.
So, I won’t have something to say every single day but when I do it will be my story- (I don’t blog everyday but when I do, I drink red wine) it will be - my words - my thoughts -  my feelings and if you connect with me and if I in some small way make a positive difference in your life, I will know my purpose in life has been fulfilled.  

Having an epiphany moment at 11:30pm is not ideal... but I had to write this or it would have been a sleepless night for me. Thanks for reading my ranting thoughts!

I sort of apologize for the swear words but not really because if you were standing in front of me that’s what I would have said.... so be it!

Virtual hugs will someday turn into live hugs....
Hug you soon-



Erik Hawkinson  commented on  August 21st, 2013

Very well said, Michele. I follow one of the photographers and admired them, and while I still think they had some good ideas that I can use, I'm disappointed by their actions.

Jyoti Suravarjula  commented on  August 21st, 2013

I don't know another person I could relate to more at the moment. It's like I am reading your words, and at the back of my mind, another me is saying... didn't you think the exact same thing last week/yesterday/last month. It does not matter when.... what matters is I have felt this. I don't post/comment/like if I don't like something. If and when I do, there is a no bars held kind of a comment/like. I'd be gushing and raving about whatever it is someone did/posted. I tell my husband, my kids, my mom. Many a times i stop and ask myself, why am I so happy? That was not my personal achievement. That was not me at all. but I felt happy never the less. or sad or angry. As the case may be.And my happiness was 100% mine. I was happy to see a friend's childhood pic in which she had an unbridled smile. I was sad reading something bad and angry reading about something unjust. The posts may not be mine... but the feeling they evoked... were. I had connected. ... As a mother, as a woman, as a wife, as a photographer, as a child. I had connected... and felt and lived... their pain their joy their proud moment. People see me post/like comment a lot... and when I don't do it some time... cause i don't find anything postable, commentable, likeable... they question me. Do I like them less, am i sad, do I have problems in my marital life... I have been asked all of these. The answer ... most times is... simple. I didn't find anything commentable/postable. I won't do it just for the sake of it. I do those with heart cause I want to... and don't do it if I have nothing to say. It's scary how much your post echoes my thoughts. but then... I connected. :) Like I have done before with many friends who transcended the boundaries of virtual world and became great real life friends. Bloggers, photographers, writers, poets. People I would never have met... if not for blog-sphere and social media. I guess I have ranted enough... now I'll stop. :D I just could not help myself from saying what i felt I had to. :) last but not the least... hugs!!

Allie Miller  commented on  August 21st, 2013

You nailed it and thank you! It is so super worth sharing ... Tomorrow .. After breakfast n after getting done w laundry | you are truly someone who really gets this connection thing .. I even saw that the first time I saw you on CL.. Honestly soneone down to matter n real earth n world !! Ty got this Michele .. Hope to meet you soon out of the virtual life we live!!! Hugs!

Lisa Warren  commented on  August 21st, 2013

Yes, that is what it is!

Debbie Shoro  commented on  August 21st, 2013

Well said! I agree 1000%.

Levi Sim  commented on  August 21st, 2013

I'm changing my language. You know that I "make" pictures...now I connect, too. "Are we connected on facebook? Have you connected with her on Facebook? Connect with me on Facebook..." I will replace "friend" and "follow" with Connect.

Amanda Nicole Miller  commented on  August 21st, 2013

Love it! This is so true and well put.

Cindy  commented on  August 21st, 2013

It is all about making connections and keeping those connections even though if you are thousands of miles away. I realized this when I moved away from my family and friends in Canada. Facebook was a way to stay connected. I am so happy that you are taking a stand on what to blog. No one want to hear something that is not your own feelings or your words. Stay true to yourself, you have so much insight and talent to share. Virtual Hug

Eric Sartoris  commented on  August 21st, 2013

Well said! I'm totally stealing this post!!! ;)

Darcia Kovarik  commented on  August 29th, 2013

Well said Michele. I knew there was a reason I 'connected' with you when I took your course on Creative Live. :)Thanks for being genuine & living it as well. I'm looking forward to that live hug someday.

Kristy  commented on  September 25th, 2013

Ah-ha! Yes, I stumbled upon this drama a few weeks ago. So much drama in such a short amount of time. It made me question how much of what anyone posts is really true or an embellishment. Very disheartening, but I refused to lose faith in our industry. After reading this post I thought to myself... "Holy shit! Michele is one person I can look to for real, honest, open sharing." You are someone I look up to very much and I hope that virtual hugs DO become real hugs someday! XOXO KG

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