social

Tired of Posting on Social Media? Yeah, Me Too. So I Stopped.

Something about social media never quite sat well with me.

Is it the fads and the pretentious-ness?

Had a bowl of raw fish doused in soy sauce on brown rice and surrounded by ‘super-colourful’ shredded vegetables for lunch? So has its culture of origin, for a long time.

Colourful Food

What about that dessert made with a purplish ‘berry’ that is touted to be one of the greatest ‘superfoods’ around? Just to let you in on a little fact - the fruit of the Açaí palm is a drupe, not a berry. You’ll also get similar nutrients if you regularly consume colourful fruit and vegetables. And the reason you’re paying so much for it is due to marketing hype.

Acai Bowl

And please don’t get me started on the drink that costs as much as a meal, made with milk (which you can easily get from any supermarket) and black sugar (easy to get on a nearby island off the most populous country in the world).

Black Sugar Milk

Maybe it’s the narcissism.

Five selfies of yourself at different angles in the same spot, accompanied by a post like ‘Shrimp cocktails are my favourite appetiser.’ that has nothing to do with the picture? About as much sense as using chopsticks for picking up water.

Or perhaps it’s just the sheer volume of it all.

Over and over, the same types of mundane, senseless, boring posts surface and flood our devices. I found that I read about 10% of the ‘posts’ that come up on my Facebook timeline, maybe 15% of my Instagram feed. If even that. I’ve never seen the point of Twitter.

And yet, I keep hearing people tell me how important it is to post regularly on social media, how it has brought them leads and clients, how it is essential to maintaining an engaged audience.

And they’re not wrong. It’s true. These aren’t opinions. They do work. In some cases, very well indeed.

And yet, I couldn’t escape from this growing thought that I had - social media, at least the version of it that I saw, held vastly different values from me.

I’m not interested in putting my life on display, much less hope that others will find it even vaguely interesting. I’m quite satisfied just knowing that I’m interested in what I’m interested in.

I don’t see the need to tell everyone what I’m thinking all the time.

Validation? No, I hardly care whether others like what I say. More often than not, they don’t, because I like to look at an issue from multiple points of view while a large number of people just want to keep the narrative they have in their heads.

So I did what I thought was most logical. I stopped posting for the sake of posting.

Stop

And now, I feel free. I no longer have the nagging thought of ‘It’s been 3 days since I last posted something! Get something on the web before you are forgotten!’

I did post a couple of pictures on Instagram a few days ago (or has it been a week?) only because I felt like it. And I noticed that the engagement level of each post wasn’t very different from when I posted (more) regularly.

Which means to say that nobody particularly cares whether you’re posting or not. I’d say that’s because there are lots of posts anyway. Yours, unless you are some sort of celebrity or public figure, hardly makes a blip on others’ radar.

One thing heartened me, though.

A very few people noticed. And they, in a concerned tone, asked me about my absence. I didn’t tell them all the underlying thoughts I mentioned here, but I am grateful that they cared enough to ask.

It gave me a slightly different perspective on this whole social media thing.

My posts don’t matter to the vast majority of people. But they have managed to capture the notice of a very few.

And because I recently had an epiphany, which I’ll talk about in my next post, I’m not about to quit social media. I will, however, be posting only with a purpose, not just to satisfy the ever-hungry content machine.

Social Media Posting

How an Introvert Can Become a Master of Social Interactions

In our busy world, we often feel that we may let others down if we take a break. If we do not attend social events, we may fear being viewed negatively, either as an arrogant snob or as a sad loner.

We know that the social world is astoundingly complex and that we, the introverts, have a part to play. While we may not be socially awkward, we generally prefer not to be overly-social, sometimes in order not to end up having to entertain the same person for days after the event has ended at which we met that person.

Introverts Are Social Creatures Too and the social dance is a lifelong one, and the sooner we master it, the better.

Benefits of Mastering The Social Dance

Imagine having a life where you have exactly the degree of stimulation you need from social events, never feeling guilty for leaving early if you need to.

Imagine having friends who understand your need to have time on your own. They let you be when you need them to, and you know that you can still call them up anytime.

Imagine having the energy to go about your daily activities without constantly feeling like you need to get away from it all.

Yes, you can have all of that once you master the dance. So let’s start with the first one:

Letting Others Know

Have you ever wondered why other people cannot be more understanding and stop making so many demands of you?

This usually happens when you are tired. Thus, when you need Alone Time, you have to make this known and come to an understanding with the people you are with. Holding in this need will make you feel like a martyr, and resentment can build over time, harming your relationships.

The quickest way to forge understanding is to share information and express expectations. However, being introverts, it can sometimes be difficult to voice our thoughts and give our opinions. We often feel like we are intruding on another person when we do so.

Overcome this feeling by reminding yourself that what you wish to share is valuable to the other person as well. As long as you are polite and respectful when conveying your message, you will generally be well-received.

Let others know of your needs, especially when you need them.

Remember that the biggest favour you can do for the people you love is to be at your best for them. If you are to be at your best, your needs have to be met.

Suggestions for Letting Others Know:

1) Arrange a meeting and sit them down.

2) Explain that you are an introvert and that you need recharges from time to time so that you can be on top form for them.

3) Elaborate that your recharges need to be on your own.

4) If you have kryptonite (something you are adversely sensitive to, such as loud noises, bright lights, etc.) and you know what it is, let them know.

5) Assure them that you are not pushing them away when you tell them you need time alone.

6) Thank them for their understanding.

You will inevitably come across people who either cannot understand or simply do not want to acknowledge who you are or why you need time on your own, and will continue to make demands of you.

Unless these are immediate family members, your only course of action is to minimise your interactions with them. If at all possible, stop spending your energy on them.

Anyone who cannot respect your legitimate needs should not be given the privilege of your attention. Conserve your energy and give it to those who are more deserving.

Dancing

Gen X? Millennial? Caught in the Middle?

Am I a Gen X or am I a Millennial?

According to Wikipedia, 

There are no precise dates for when this cohort (referring to Millennials) starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.

Being born in the early 1980s, by this definition, I could be considered an early Millennial. At the same time, I may be a late Gen X instead. Again, according to Wikipedia,

There are no precise dates for when Generation X starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s and ending birth years ranging from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

Of course, the truth is that neither group is truly defined by their age. It has always been more of a set of characteristics and behaviours.

That said, there is likely no such person who embodies every single trait (and stereotype) of either group. Humans being humans, we are mixed bags.

I wondered about this when I noticed my reluctance to adopt now-popular social media platforms when they first started out. I knew of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like almost as soon as they became available to the general public but I was never among the first to use them.

Perhaps this has nothing to do with whether I am Gen X or a Millennial and more of me being a bit of a laggard (as opposed to the early adopters).

Even today, I am apprehensive of hiring transportation from private cars, much preferring to get to my destinations by regular taxis (even if I have to book them).

At the same time, I am no slouch when it comes to technology. I have been customising, upgrading and/or fixing up my own computers since I was a teenager, I trawl the Internet for information on maximising my use of computer programs or fixing technological issues that I face (usually very successfully), and I insist on being able to customise my own technological devices - a core reason for my refusal to use a particular brand associated with the fruiting body of the Malus genus.

I recognise some stereotypical Millennial behaviours in myself, such as:

1) Researching product information on the Internet before making a purchase

2) Insisting on finding meaningful work

3) Disliking other people taking up unnecessary amounts of my time

Yet, I hardly exhibit other stereotypical Millennial behaviours, such as:

a) Viewing social media 'influencers' with large followings as celebrities

b) Embracing the Sharing Economy

c) Desiring a workplace that is social and 'fun'

It got me thinking: Aren't behaviour molded by cultures? Since the Millennials are the ones growing up with all this technology around them, is it any wonder that the behaviours forged by technology are picked up most quickly by those who are most deeply immersed in those same technologies?

With high Internet speeds, we become less patient. With mass production, we find blending in easy. With ready information anytime anywhere, we become less easily satisfied and more skeptical of what is presented before us.

The behaviours of a stereotypical Millennial, then, aren't so much to do with when the individual was born but, more likely, how readily they he/she has taken to the available technology. After all, there are 'aunties' and 'uncles' who exhibit the very same behaviours we ascribe to Millennials, and who embrace the fast-paced, high-tech lifestyle of the 'young people'.

So, am I a Gen X or a Millennial? 

I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? 

Smartphone

Especially For Authors: Getting Your Message Out There!

It is never enough to merely write and publish a book. The next step is to get it into the hands of others. That's where it gets tricky. Thankfully, I'm getting guidance and advice from the best in the business.

1) Design Graphics for use in social media

Whether your book is published by a mainstream publisher or you're a self-published author, it needs to be seen by other people, and there is no wider audience than on social media

Weeks to months before printing, the cover of the book has to be finalised and it should be designed to catch the eye. Thus, unless you're a designer yourself, get one to come up with a custom design for you.

Yes, sites like Canva are very useful for putting your own graphics together and I highly recommend them for your regular posts on social media. However, this isn't just any typical graphic. 

A professionally designed book cover allows you to stand out from the thousands of uninspiring book covers out there. When people see your cover, they will associate it with you and what you represent - your brand. Do you really want them to come away with a poor impression of you?

Once your book cover is finalised, use its colour scheme for graphics associated with the book (and, by extension, you as the author). These graphics may include social media banners, profile pictures, marketing materials and so on. Keeping things consistent is the key here. Again, I recommend that you get a designer to do these things for you, at least for the first run. You can do your tweaks and changes on your own later.

These graphics will make your book more visible over social media and invariably lead to increased interest in what you have written, which leads to more people reading your book. 

2) Tell Others about your book

Along with the appropriate graphics, write an introduction for your book. Tell others what it's about and what they can learn from it. Show them how this book will improve their lives / make them happier / allow them to do things they didn't know they could etc.

A side-effect of telling others about your book is that you have now publicly committed to this project. This makes you much more likely to complete it, especially since others will keep asking when they can get a copy of it.

Another useful side-effect is the attention those outside of your circle will start to pay towards you and your book. One of these people may be linked to media outlets and help you gain yet more publicity. 

With regard to publicity, look for opportunities to share what you've written about - be it through workshops, speaking engagements, media appearances and so on. While you are keeping a lookout, continue to update your captive audience via social media.

You aren't expecting every single person who hears about your book to get a copy but the more people hear about it, the more people will want one. Don't keep such a great work to yourself. Share it with others and let them benefit from your book.

3) Give Copies of your book away

What? Really?

Yes. Give them to people who helped you on your book-writing journey, to your clients (current and potential), and, of course, to your loved ones.

Run contests on social media where you give a copy away as a prize. Give one to that brave soul who first stands up to answer your question when you are giving a talk. Give extra copies to people who know others who may benefit from your book.

You are trying to get your book into as many hands as possible. Though it may seem like an expensive way to do so, giving the book away works. Very well.

Throughout my journey as an author, I was constantly reminded that book sales aren't what I should focus on. They will come and they are important in keeping authors writing (otherwise, we'll have to find other paying professions), but my main priority should be in getting my message out there.

After all, that's why I wrote the book in the first place.