I titled this in the past tense, thinking hopefully that writing about it as if happened will make it happen—we’ll see if that proves true. The truth is, I am not keen about the idea of keeping a blog. Part of me thinks “oh, this could be fun! I love writing and sharing my ideas with others.” The other part of me, the more pessimistic, judgmental part of me, says “who on earth could possibly care what you are pondering and what you have to say? How egotistical must you be to think that they want to read it!” That part of me is judging every word I type out. That part of me judges other people, too, more than I would like to admit.
Last night I was thinking about from where that judgmental part of me comes. The judgmental me (we’ll characterize that part of me as her own person for the sake of imagery) keeps me from posting almost anything on social media. I take a picture and think “oh! That’s cute, I should put it on insta” and as soon as I try, she says things like “that’s how you’re going to caption it? That’s the filter you’re going to use?” Eventually, she talks me out of posting anything at all. The same goes for posting on Facebook or even Linked In. I’ve been trying to determine her origins. Is it insecurity? She does seem insecure. Is it fear? She does seem scared of what people will think of me. Is she too hard on other people’s posts, too? Perhaps judgmental of what others are saying?
I can’t pinpoint exactly what she is insecure or afraid of, but I suspect that each of my descriptions are partly true. Fear and insecurity are natural, and I’m sure that most people feel some of that when they go to make a post. A blog post is especially scary, because despite the fact that a picture says a thousand words, reading my actual words seems much more intrusive. Until this point, my writing has mostly been for the benefit of my professors; occasionally close friends if I was especially proud of what I had written. (This is excluding high school when I would write and post fan-fiction—no need to delve into that insecurity cesspool.) Posting my thoughts and writing onto the world wide web, where literally anyone could read it, is more terrifying than stepping out of my house naked. Naked, passersby can only really judge my body and perhaps wonder as to my motivations. This is much less scary than someone judging my intellect, an area about which I am both proud of and insecure.
Okay, fear and insecurities are addressed; not solved, but understood. The other part of the hesitation equation is the judgment. Social media is an ocean of judgment, where we literally “like” certain posts and ignore others. The “likes” are like a certificate of approval, and being ignored, though it perhaps should be neutral, can be viewed as a slight. I think plenty of unkind thoughts as I scroll through facebook. I hesitate to post because I think people will think unkind thoughts about me, and I would rather them not think of me at all. I sit there like a judgmental fly on the wall, never posting any comments or my own posts, but silently administering my stamp of approval or silent disproval to people as I scroll down. I don’t think of myself as a mean person, and I’d like to hope that not many people think of me that way either. But as I consider my attitude toward social media, I realize how the people who post differ from those who don’t—the posters are being vulnerable.
I’ve read Brene Brown (and recommend you do too). I talk about the importance of vulnerability all the time with my friends, family, and clients. Publicly, at every opportunity, I support opening up and letting people in. Privately, I sit silent on social media, holding my tongue, hoping that no one notices me. I surely don’t post anything that’s meaningful to me for fear of being judged and rejected. Posting a picture is a vulnerable thing. And through all of my judgment I have often overlooked the bravery that posters have exhibited in posting their thoughts, feelings, and pictures with the world. I admire that bravery, and I am going to be brave too.
Now as I scroll through my feeds on various media platforms, I’m going to stop and marvel at the courage posters have taken. Did they stop and wonder about their caption? Probably. Did they fear judgment from others? It’s very possible. Did they think that people might judge their intellect by looking critically at their grammar, word choice, and general opinion? Yeah, probs. Okay, maybe other people don’t overthink things quite as much as I do. That’s a matter for another post entirely.
Realizing the source of judgment doesn’t mean that anyone else will judge me less. Though I might go through social media with a less critical eye, I’m sure there are many other flies on the wall like myself. How do I not think about them when I go to post a picture or write about something? How does knowing all this make my fear any less than what it is? I don’t exactly have the answer to that question. All I can say is, if you are my fellow fly reading this, hello to you. Welcome. Feel free to screenshot my posts and send them with mockery to your groupchat. I understand. Feel free, also, to read this and not comment or “like” or acknowledge it whatsoever; that’s probably what I would have done just yesterday.
I don’t know which part of myself I should be listening to. The judgmental gal is telling me “stopppp oh my god just stop” with every word. The other me thinks, however, that maybe putting yourself out there a little more can be a good thing. Maybe, like with face-to-face vulnerability, you have to risk in order to gain. We’ll see who is right.