When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social

Truth time: I have been avoiding you all.

I normally sit down on Monday mornings, tap-tap-tapping away at my keys, crafting a new blog post as my cup of tea and bowl of oatmeal turn into a lemon-lime sparkling water and whatever ready-to-eat food can pass for lunch. (In other words, I eat a lot of string cheese and things that come in bags that make loud crinkling noises.) Then I schedule social media posts, browse newsfeeds, interact with blogging groups, read about ways to increase reach and website hits, and try to figure out what in my life is interesting enough to be worthy of sharing.

But considering my life has felt mostly like I’m scheduling social media posts, browsing newsfeeds, interacting with blogging groups, and reading about ways to increase reach and website hits, I come up empty-handed on that last one. So when I sat down on these last two Monday mornings, I actually felt more inspired to put away a load of laundry than do anything else. And that’s just effed up.

Back when I was struggling to breastfeed my first child, I remember thinking that the act of feeding my baby shouldn’t be something I wanted to avoid. But it was. The fact that she seemed to want to eat every two hours made me feel like just when I thought I could breathe, I had already fallen behind. And I usually had very little to offer. But I continued to give, at the expense of the things she REALLY needed, like a happy mother.

Similarly, social media doesn’t feel so social anymore.

Its primary function has become one of a tool for growing my blog, finding exposure for my writing, selling books, and connecting with new audiences. I see less of the people and things that really matter to me on my screen, in favor of more necessary means to ends. It feels overwhelming. It feels demanding. It feels like a chore. It feels like it always needs to be fed. And sometimes my ideas are as dried up as my boobs.social media

Or sometimes, I do have pictures to share, funny stories to tell, rants to rave, and questions to discuss. But then I stop. Because it feels more and more like my life is becoming fodder for an internet snapshot…that I’m only living on the screen of computers.

This past weekend, I took a little trip to Nashville with some girlfriends. Girlfriends who make laughter seep out of my pores; girlfriends who leave drama at the door; girlfriends who say you look hot and mean it; girlfriends who don’t bat an eye about getting the next round of drinks because they know it will all probably even out in the end; girlfriends who somehow get you talking about crazy things you never thought you’d breathe to another soul, but it feels as normal as chatting about bake sales at a PTO meeting. Those kind of girlfriends. I was so wrapped up in the fun of the company I was keeping, I think I only checked my email once the whole weekend, as I was trying to fall asleep one night. Nor did I feel my usual need to upload our pictures to Facebook. The experience as it played out was enough. No media. Just social. And I realized…I need more of that in my life right now.

My kids are just days away from being home for summer vacation…three months that should NOT be spent looking for some article about the new Full House spinoff to fill up my Facebook page because I’m afraid people will forget about me and my writing if I’m not like Kimmy Gibbler, always standing at the door of my followers’ newsfeeds every time they open it up. Three months that should NOT be spent asking my kids to pose for one more picture on every excursion so I have the perfect shot to upload to Instagram or turn into a blog graphic. Three months that should NOT be spent feeling the experience itself is not enough.

Does that mean I’m falling off the grid? Hellz to the no. Because sometimes I WANT to share my pictures and my life with you. Sometimes I WANT to know if anyone else is as unnervingly excited to hear Joey Gladstone reprise his Mr. Woodchuck voice. And let’s face it, sometimes I’m going to NEED to zone out in front of a computer screen with the kids home all day, every day. I also have a lot of great blog post ideas in my drafts folder, just waiting for that perfect storm to make them come to fruition in the way they are meant to. Lulu and Milo Book #2 will begin its genesis this summer; while a girl’s still gotta hustle Book #1 (book sales don’t get a summer vacation). And you know, I kind of like you guys. I would miss interacting with you.

But when I can do it on my own terms, and when it works for me, it’s finally going to be feel social again.

•••

In a totally random and bit ironic change of subject…

Do you have kids who like to draw? If so, I need their help in designing the next Lulu & Milo coloring page, and I’m running a contest over on KellySuellentrop.com. Kids can submit their drawings of Lulu & Milo (and Hippo, too!) doing their favorite summer activity. The winning entry will not only be turned into the next coloring page to be featured on my website, but the winner will also receive a $10 iTunes gift card! But no one goes home empty-handed (at least, not in the virtual sense): ALL entries will be featured on the Art from You section of the website. I will announce the winner on June 15th. Entries can be submitted HERE.lulu and milo summer coloring page contest

In the meantime, head over to the Coloring Fun page for a free printable coloring page of Lulu & Milo’s Last Day of School.

•••

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), Instagram, and Pinterest.

49 Responses

  1. Good for you! It’s really important to take a break from the treadmill every so often and live a little differently. Trying to build my platform now as a book on my blog is due out next year but already it feels like I’m sitting in a car crusher.. I do my paid work, I look after my kids, I look after my mum, I write my blog/book, I put kids to bed and all I want to do is watch telly or read a good book and I feel the need to be social on media – and o don’t ofttn feel social (media or otherwise !!) at 11pm! But then I think of the online support I have and I know I can’t let it go… So it’s about finding the balance. Taking time out when needed, love bombing it when the energy strikes. Be good to yourself… It’s ok!

    • Love bombing!!! That is a great term! And yes…balance. I keep saying I need to find it. I’m starting to think it may never happen 😉 But thank you for your kind comment, and good luck to you. It’s hard work what you are doing, and I wish you much success!

  2. I apologize if a variation of this comment shows up twice. WordPress doesn’t like me very much!

    Last week, I took the boys to the zoo and I forgot my phone in the car (well, it turns out I didn’t forget my phone, it was in my backpack the whole time, but I thought I had forgotten it). I hadn’t intended to photograph and document the excursion online, so I let it go, but found myself constantly reaching for it to take a quick picture. I realized that without intention, I would have spent those few hours tethered to that device in ways that jarred me more than if I had intentionally planned a zoo photo shoot. It was freeing to spend a few hours with my boys not taking pictures, not googling the answers to their questions and instead finding a zookeeper, not knowing the time. I intend to “forget my phone” more often this summer.

    • YES!!! That’s totally it. You know the funny thing is that I was kind of late to the smartphone thing. I had a cell phone, but I rarely took pictures on it because it had a horrible camera, and I certainly wasn’t connected to social media. And I remember thinking that I was happy with what I had…I didn’t want to be so tethered to my phone. Then I got a smartphone. :) I mean, I’m not going to lie and pretend I won’t be snapping photos all summer…because I will. But hopefully I will be doing it more for myself, so I can remember these days. I’m kind of a sentimental freak about those things. And one of the things I do love about social media is that is works like another backup for all my photos in case my computer crashes. But I am really going to try to just “be”…and not spend those moments thinking how I can work it into a post. If it happens naturally afterwards, then great.

      • Oh yeah, I’m not going to lie either. I’ll be snapping pictures AND posting them to Instagram. It’s my favorite social media site, and I’m not about to quit. But I am going to be intentional about leaving the phone behind sometimes and allowing moments to exist offline, not needing an online record to prove they happened.

  3. Moderation, right? Everything always comes back to moderation. I like your social media sketch btw! :)

    • Amen. Always moderation!!! And thanks. I’m already starting with my promise…I realized last night it would be quicker to just sketch what I wanted for a blog graphic than to comb google for one :)

  4. I decided long ago that I wouldn’t let my books kill me (I’m reserving that honor for my kids). Consequently, I do all of my marketing half-assed. According to the experts, I do everything wrong. (I like to imagine how famous I’d be if I did just one thing right.) So if you ever feel guilty about taking a break from maximizing your social media presence, remember, there’s at least one guy out there who’s still doing it way worse than you are.

    • Scott, you’re da man. The funny thing is, I feel like I’m doing everything (okay, maybe not everything, but most things) right, according to the experts, and I’m not sure if it is paying off. So then I think I’m just waisting my time. In that case, I’m the one who is doing worse, and you’re the incredibly smart one.

      • It probably is paying off. What they don’t tell you before you publish a book is that it is extremely difficult to get anyone to invest money in an author who is not a household name. It takes a lot of promoting to move from Very Few Sales to A Few Sales. We have to decide if it’s worth it. Like most things in life, luck is very important, but if you are promoting well, you put yourself in a better position to find that luck. Of course, a good product helps, and you’ve got that covered. So just keep plugging away, or not, as suits you. But never lose focus on why you do it.

  5. I totally relate to what you’re going through. On my death bed, I don’t want the people I love to say, “She wrote a really good blog post last week. RIP.” I hope I’ll be remembered for actually living my life, not just documenting it! Social media is just a tool to communicate our passions but when it gets in the way of enjoying our passions, it gets wonky. Good for you for recognizing that you need to switch it up!

  6. Being present seems to be a theme lately. It is so easy to fall into the “I must do this with my blog; I must do that with my blog” thing. It’s especially anxiety inducing (damn brain refuses to remember the single word that means the same things as anxiety inducing) when you would, ideally, like your blog to be something more than a diary. I find myself feeling like a blogging failure quite frequently. So, I am trying to be present in my own life. I attended a social media workshop in which the presenter said, “If you don’t have anything to write, don’t write a post.” His idea was that a rigid schedule produces low-quality posts. So, I’ve only written on Crazy Good Parent when I felt I had something important to give. I’m getting ready to write something I think will be helpful, but I’m also looking for a job/jobs and trying to clean my house. The disorganization and dirt that pile up when I devote more time to blogging has become unbearable. So, this is a long-winded way of saying: enjoy being present in your own life. I’ll see you when I see you.

    • I’m totally down with all of this. While I have a loose schedule, I often times find myself not posting every week for that very reason. Who wants to read crap? There are only so many hours in the day, and sometimes those hours need to be spent on anything but blogging or social media. You have to remind yourself how important your platform is on Crazy Good Parent…and that it isn’t about frequency, but that there is actually a place like it that finally exists! Thanks for helping me see that lots of other people are struggling with the same thing, because it does often feel like every blogger around you is totally rocking it, and you aren’t fit to hang in their comment sections :)

  7. I used to be concerned about “working” the blog until I saw all the commercial trolls subscribing and liking. Write what you feel when you feel. And enjoy the kids this summer.

    • You speak truth! I often wonder how many REAL people are reading :)

      • That’s why I removed the subscriber count from the home page–because I know it’s not genuine. I’m happy to have met authentic bloggers like yourself. That’s what keeps me going.

        • Again, truth!! I’m going to just start calling you Truth Teller. I always love your comments…OR maybe you are just a really advanced spambot parading as a supportive commenter. Hmmmm…I think I’m on to you…

  8. Oh man, do I feel this in spades. A sizable chunk of what I do at my day job is managing my company’s social media, so Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other platform we decide to experiment with is very literal work for me. It gets hard to be sincere and off-the-cuff brilliant and hilarious all the time. And don’t even get me started on the timesuck that is scheduling tweets! Social media is tedious, and then my mom will mention to me that I haven’t “liked” any of her posts in awhile. Can she be surprised? At the end of the day, I want to decompress and live my life through the lens of my, um, eyeballs, not through a screen. Life is more than likes.

    I cannot love this post more, and that’s why I’m so very excited to finally kick up my heels with you this summer, Kels! Let’s make some memories!

    • And then INSTAGRAM THE HELL OUT OF THEM!!! Because we will. Because THAT is the fun part of social media. And yeah, isn’t it crazy that we feel guilty for spending too much time on the computer, but then make ourselves feel guilty for not checking more statuses or liking more posts? I kind of miss the 80’s when we didn’t have this extra layer of life to live. Then again, without it, I wouldn’t have met YOU!

  9. I get this, I get this, I get this. I get exhausted just thinking about all of the hoop jumping when it comes to promoting and scheduling. It does make it a lot less social and much more like work.
    I’m thinking with summer coming I’ll get busy living, too. Thanks for this fantastic reminder.

  10. So true, social media has become much less social and more business orientated. People aren’t interacting with the real people around them. Sometimes I watch my daughter with her friends and they are spending more time looking at their phones than each other.

  11. Do I detect a grassroots campaign for folks to skip social media for the summer? Honey, ( may I call you honey, honey?) I just don’t know how you young women with children, husbands, and books do all of this VERY hard social media/marketing stuff. I can barely manage to write a blog post once a month. I rarely ever twitter or instagram. I can’t remember to do it. Even though my daughter told me to instagram once a day. You are wise to take a break when it starts feeling so fake. You are anything but fake.

    • Your comments always make me feel so good. Thank you. And the answer is…we don’t do it very well. At least I don’t. Either that or there’s a bunch of other stuff we aren’t doing well to make up for it. But it has felt good to take the pressure off these last few weeks. I am starting to realize I can probably get about the same results spending half the time on social media. because all that time I WAS spending on it wasn’t really amounting to much. So it’s just a priorities shift.

      Oh, and you most certainly may call me Honey :)

  12. I sooo get you! And, like after I find your blog, the first post I identify with is the one telling me that you might semi being going off the grid. But, I get it. Go out there and enjoy life. The computer is a sure thing. It’ll always be there and there will always be people cycling back on and off again. Take it for granted. I’m sure media will never change. But, if you want to, you have to go OUT and grow. (It takes sunshine, fresh air, and family/friends to do this) Cheers! I’m happy to have found your blog:) Take your time getting back. You’ll have more to contribute, I’m certain.

    • Aw, thank you! And no worries…I’m not going off the grid completely! Just pulling back on the reigns a bit. And not beating myself up if I decided to skip a week here and there to enjoy my summer instead of working on a blog post. So I hope I continue to see you around!

  13. Good for you! I did the same, although I took myself off of the grid completely. I removed my Facebook, I got rid of instagram, and suddenly, I actually began to see the world around me. It was amazing and freeing. I did bring back the social media once my son was born, naturally I feel the need to boast. I’m just beginning my blog, but I look forward to more of your posts!

    • Thank you! And yes…our kids give us more to share on social media for sure :) It’s all about finding that balance. I’m sure your experience of going off the grid gives you a good perspective.

  14. Reblogged this on bad56.

  15. Hopefully, everyone can relate. I had at one point gotten to the point that I almost turned off Facebook. Then a close friend shared an article with me about how many people in our lives really matter. I went into Facebook and de-friended down to around a hundred people. Then I created ‘groups’ for my news feeds so I could just check in on them from time to time. (Side benefit – ads from your news feeds disappears when you use only these feeds). Next, I started reading actual books again (I’m about finished with one and need to find the next). I pick up the phone now and call on 3-4 people that I really care about. I have a real exercise routine now too and I can’t remember when the last time it was that I checked my blog’s stats (I might be the only person reading my stories now).

    Net, I totally relate and good for you for recognizing the dangerous side of social media. Note that I kept you in as a FB friend….you take the time to check in with me occasionally and I realized about myself that I need that. (Plus there’s the fact I find you interesting). :)

    • Aw, I feel honored that I made the cut. Thank you. The best part of the blog hop was connecting with genuine people like you. It’s nice to have “low maintenance” people in your life…those who are happy to connect every once in a while, but don’t keep track, or are “tit for tat.” That’s the kind of thing that makes social media fun. When it can just be “social” instead of demanding. Thanks for this comment, Rob. I really appreciate it more than you know!

  16. I am so, so, so far behind this whole blogging and reading blogs – thing, but so very glad I started, and certainly happy to have found you. I’m a Chicagoan as well. Ain’t it grand to raise children where the pizza is THE BEST? I agree with you – social media is really losing it’s flavor these days, but I also feel that good writers can still add the sriracha to it. (And ok, I admit I still don’t know how to pronounce that.)
    Anyway, thanks for listening- I’m a fan – *presses follow button.

  17. Excellent post! I hate the way we are all slaves to these little hand-held devices. I have also tried (and on many occasions failed) to enjoy outings and family activities without them. Why are the memories and the quality family time not good enough anymore? And why does something not feel worthwhile unless it is shared with the world? … who will all see it and ‘like’ it, because they’re all on their social media accounts. I have written articles in the past about this very subject. What you said about time with your girlfriends without logging in to anything is exactly what I think everybody needs! Your thought-provoking post has made me more determined to try and simply live my life, with less documentation and photographic proof that we’re having a good time. :)

    • I’m so glad this post is resonating with others. It just can get overwhelming, doesn’t it! Here’s to enjoying for enjoyment’s sake!

  18. I get this so much! Thanks for writing this! I definitely chuckled here and there.

  19. Haha, I love your social media illustration. You should make posters from it :). I know many people who feel the same way. Just the other day I was venting in my journal about social media and my Inate resistance to it. The thing is, for creatives, social media is a necessity, but so is a temporary brake from it.

    • Aw, thanks! I do like to doodle :) And it is really nice to know others out there are feeling the pressure and push as well…and also understand when you need to break away for a bit! Thanks for commenting!

  20. I work in social media and worry I’m still not social media’d enough! And yes, scared of the ideas drying up. Although luckily, they keep coming for now! Great blog – best,
    Vidhya

  21. I love the idea of not putting undue pressure on myself just so i could meet up with the demand of providing new posts for followers. Next time I’ll remind myself to go at my pace of course that is not to say i won’t love to have a million followers…lol. Thanks for sharing.

I'm Listening...Really.