I was having my bowl of cereal this morning and for some bizzarre reason the words "Northern Exposure" came to mind. I let them swivel in my bowl, as I stared at the muesli mixing with the milk, the nuts and couple of scoops of peanut butter - I love peanut butter! - until the images of Cicely, Alaska, came to mind.
It was a comedy drama that was on TV in the early 90's, the story of a New York physician that moved to this Alaskan small town, full of eccentric characters making him the "one that stood out", throughout the various series.
As I continue to watch my thoughts in my now nearly empty bowl of cereal, I see that Exposure is really the word that is stuck to the bottom, alongside some of the peanut butter.
Over the weekend I met some friends for a hill walk, some I hadn't seen in a while, and I was struck by some of the opening lines, "I see you are doing plenty these days!", "You are a busy man..."
At first I wasn't sure whether they had spoke to my wife, Sylvia, before speaking to me, but I noticed that she was busy talking to someone else.
"I saw your stuff on social media. Between the runs, the podcast, the coaching.... you are getting out there. Fair Play."
Now, I am not a prolific "poster" (is that actually the name?) on social media. I don't enjoy spending time on it and what I post is normally some sketches that I do, some photos of runs that I enjoy with friends and the occasional post about coaching - like this one.
What the conversations with friends over the weekend made me reflect on is the pervasive power of social media and how it does get under our skin.
It creates that itch that needs to be scratched.
That jealousy, that envy that we get by watching someone else posting something that we should have done.
It happened to me last Monday. I decided to waste some of my time scrolling aimlessly through LinkedIn and Instagram (I don't have any other social media outlet to speak of) only to see some people that I know - actually know as opposed to be "social media friends" posting some stuff that made me think, "I have done a lot of that, but it looks like nobody knows about it"
So I spent a few minutes wondering and pondering whether I should expose myself a little more, whether I should share more pictures of myself, whether I should share selfies with people that I know - those influencers that make the difference online, whether....
But then I thought, well actually this doesn't feel nice, I feel grumpy, unhappy and I have just wasted a good half hour on something that doesn't give me anything of value.
Some empty calories that make my blood pressure rise unnecessarily.
I reverted to my sketching, my writing and some cooking (always good to spend a bit of time in the kitchen to create something to share with your loved ones).
I reflected on some of the coaching conversations and how this unnecessary pressure from an external pervasive source is causing them an itch that they feel compelled to scratch.
Self confidence and self esteem, that fear of missing out, that fear of not doing enough, that need to expose parts or all of us to fit in.
I said to my friends on the hill walk, "don't believe everything you see on social media."
For the sake of exposure:
- Social Fabric Podcast is now 5 years old
- 157 podcasts to date
- 10 live podcasts
- 1 audio documentary
- next live podcast (fundraiser) - Against all odds
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To know more about me - give me a call or send me an email, I'd love to talk to you
Space is what I need it's what I feed on"
PETER GABRIEL, ROBERT FRIPP