I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the topic of social media in my personal life as well as a business owner and I want to unravel my thoughts on both perspectives. I know, I know… You’ve more than likely read countless blogs about social media- the double edged sword it is, so if you have already checked out, no hard feelings!
Do you remember the Verizon (now Sprint) guy, “Can you hear me now? Good.” It’s catchy and memorable. So much so that he was able to capitalize on it for Sprint. That’s kind of what I feel like the world of social media has become, hundreds of thousands of people talking over one another at the same time, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW. I’m going to be real honest, I LOVE social media. I always have. In high school, I posted to Tumblr like it was my job and eventually found out that I could get paid to post (advertise) so I did and gained quite the following. Right around 2012, I found Twitter and thought that for some reason, people cared about what I had to say in 140 characters or less. Friends, before I deleted my personal Twitter last year, I scrolled through four years of tweets and was not impressed! And then Facebook took over the internet, “Do you want to login using Facebook?” “Sure!” Until your parents found Facebook and then you took to a little platform known as Instagram. Last year, I documented my roommates using the hashtag, #The512Chronicles. They hated it 80% of the time, but looking back it turned out to be a cool project.
Before you know it, you’re now digitally hooked to an illuminated screen that fits in the palm of your hand receiving on average 42 notifications a day. A recent study at Berkley highlighted that on average, an individual instinctively reaches for their phone every 14 minutes.
Now, lets unpack shall we?
P E R S O N A L >> B I A S >>
Like I said before, Tumblr was my intro to the digital world. Actually, if we’re being honest AIM was (HeyHeatherHayes) Original, I know. For an introvert who felt way too much, it was excellent for me. Or so I thought. I had this community that trusted me and knew me. At least I thought they did. There is only so much reality to the words on a screen and more times than not, they fall short. In this case, Tumblr was a crutch. A place for me to hide and not deal with the things that were happening in front of me. It was a place I could archive feelings, but that doesn’t solve anything realistically. So eventually, I traded in my Tumblr fame for real community and healing and I can tell you now, it wasn’t easy but completely worth it.
Twitter. Oh man, Twitter. Here’s the deal. We were created for community. Argue with me all you want, but there is something within us that craves being known and knowing others. No shame in that game! But what happens when someone doesn’t feel heard or known? All of the sudden, they have a voice and all they have to do is press Tweet. Twitter gave me that feeling of involvement. Kind of like I was in a constant conversation with countless people at all times, but there is only so much truth to that. So again, I deleted Twitter and said goodbye to 4,000+ tweets.
I know it sounds slightly (if not completely) ridiculous, but each time I deleted one of these platforms, I felt like I was losing a part of myself because I had invested so much time into it.
B U S I N E S S + C O M P A R I S O N >>
Can I just say I want to simultaneously hug and punch the person who created Pinterest? Because for some (not all, I’m not in the business of speaking on behalf of others) it has left us with the impression that we’re not enough and that is exhausting. Pinterest is like the modern day Disney princess that leads us to false pretenses. “I should be better at my career,” “Their wedding is/was better than mine,” “That blogger is a better wife/mom than I will ever be.” Stop. Take a breath. No, just no. Friends, do me a favor and shut that door before you ever go there. Pinterest is an excellent place to gain inspiration, find innovative ideas, even build community- but it should never be the foundation of our expectations. And this kind of crosses over to Instagram.
It wasn’t until this last year that I learned that you could buy followers on Instagram and download apps to tell you when someone has followed/unfollowed you. My mind was blown. I’m not going to elaborate much on that but only to point out the question, How much of it is real? And the only reason I ask that is to allow space to consider, “Are you comparing yourself and if so, why?” Because 9 times out of 10 what we are comparing ourselves to isn’t even real and there is so much grace for that. Or at least there should be. That blogger mom that you follow who is decked out in Madewell and her kid is smiling at her side? I guarantee you that same kid has had a full fledged meltdown in Chick-fil-a while mama was rockin’ curls and make-up from the day before. How do I know that? Because we are H U M A N. I promise you the perception others have of Everything Beautiful isn’t always accurate because it is NOT always beautiful and my assistant can testify to that!
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m incredibly guilty of it! : : Hand raised high, waving back and forth : : There are super talented entrepreneurs that pop-up on my Instagram feed and they are the fire under me. They make me pull out the sketchbook and start working >> dreaming >> brainstorming. And I’m okay with that until it becomes an insecurity within me and I’m no longer appreciating their work but resenting it. When that happens it’s time for a heart check and to get real humble because I never, ever want to reach a point where it becomes about me. I’m not the best and I have a whole lot to learn. I hope 5, 10 years from now, I still say that because I want to learn. I want my community to be the tangible depiction of Acts 2 and if you’re not a believer, I think you can still get behind that commission. I want to cheer on others loud and rejoice in their success because I truly believe it inadvertently is my success too. I want the biggest table possible for you to gather with us.
B E I N G >> P R E S E N T >>
In conclusion, I think being present is relevant to business + personal. We should have separate identities, but more times than not, Heather Hayes + Everything Beautiful feel like one in the same brand. And because it feels like one in the same and I am kinda crazy about it, I could work all day, every day. My friend group has a pretty healthy or non- existent relationship with social media so that makes it easier to be aware of when I have my nose glued to the screen and set it down. One of my favorite nights in California that I briefly mentioned in the prior blog post was when I forgot my phone in the car and hung out with people I had met that day on the beach. It was perfect and I have no documentation of it and I think that is what added to it’s perfection. I was present, I was engaged, I have the sensory memory of that night that I will never forget and I didn’t need Instagram to remember it.
I’m probably not going to give up Instagram anytime soon so I’m not suggesting you should either. I think these networking platforms have provided us incredible opportunities to learn, share life, and grow. Everything Beautiful is partly possible because of Instagram alone and that blows my mind. Here is my implore, “Like” your besties photos all day long, but make time to sit down with them face to face and communicate without a screen sitting on the table between. Post that sunset #blessed (praise hand emoji), but make sure you stop to appreciate it without a filter at least once or twice. Have those late nights with friends where you laugh/cry until you are exhausted and don’t post it to your story. Shine some light on someone else without questioning your God given talent because you are a badass. If you can find balance in these things, I think you’re utilizing this little tool to the best of your ability.