i am socially inept.

I have nearly 600 people that follow me on twitter. I follow less than 100.

I have 21 suggestions of friends on Facebook. Many of the suggestions are for people from my graduating class in high school. I haven’t added them.

I have an incredible number of things that people have given me or thrown at me or mentioned to me on Facebook. I have let them bounce off from me.

I have written thousands of words in posts. I have commented on most of the comments that people have made. But I haven’t consistently gone to the commenters’ blogs and written comments there. I haven’t even followed all of them.

I am a pretty clumsy social media person.

However, I am exactly the same way socially. At parties I stand around the edges. Or I help clear the tables. When I was in high school, I spent three years not connecting to those same people because of being incredibly shy. And then, in the fourth year, I only sort of connected.

I do way more teaching than I do conversing, at least with informal conversation. In many settings, I do way more listening than I do talking (though there are a couple people in particular that would argue that point. At great length.)

In short, I am in social what I am in social media. Because that is what I can handle.

I would love, I guess, to follow the 500 people who are in an unrequited following relationship with me. But I can’t keep up. And that isn’t likely to change. Because there are probably 1000 people that would call our church (my ’employer’) their home, and I ‘follow’ between 100-150 of them. I know more, I’m willing to respond to the comments of more, but I’ve got capacity limits.

This post isn’t a fishing post. This isn’t a “that’s awful, I’m going to unfollow you” post. This isn’t a “that’s fine, Jon, we love you anyway (you doofus)” post.

This is a “find your comfort level in social media and don’t feel guilty for not being exactly like everyone else” post.

For those of us clumsy ones, that’s a pretty important piece of permission.

I hope the rest of you don’t mind.

23 responses to “i am socially inept.

  1. Jon, I think this is one of the beauties of social media.

    It allows those of us who are shy, introverted, awkward, resisters of trends… to find our own space, to find conversations that we’re comfortable with and enrich our lives.

    Certainly the blogging & twitter dimensions, maybe FB less so. (Maybe that’s why I don’t like FB)

  2. Jon,
    I am socially and socially media inept, and I’ve been feeling guilty for not being on Twitter and not responding to all those requests to add me a friend here, there, and yonder. I see “everybody” keeping up with all these things and wonder why I can’t do it, too. Now I’ve got permission to not do the things I’m uncomfortable with without feeling guilty. Thanks!

  3. Some important and necessary thoughts on social media. My high school experience sounds about like yours, by the way. I also follow fewer people than follow me and reject many invitations on Facebook. I am baffled by people who can be so much more immersed in social media than I am. I never entertained the connection between “real life” social situations and “virtual” social situations. That makes sense though – thanks for sharing that thought. I have often struggled with feeling a bit guilty for not keeping up like others seem able.

  4. Jon, I was and still up to a point socially inept. I also am one of the people who clear the tables and wash the dishes at church socials. And I am also the one working behind the scenes to make things happen.

    I get overwhelmed when I am around too many people, but I have been trying really hard to reach out to others. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, I just retreat and do something that I really like and that works for me.

    I take one baby step at a time. Twitter works for me because I am introverted. I have nearly 800 followers and I am following neary 1100. I am thankful to people on Twitter because I learn so much from them everyday.

    We can only do what we can do.

    http://www.twitter.com/avilbeckford

  5. Good one, Jon. I have to laugh when I read prescriptions about what people “should” do in social media, e.g. following back everyone who follows them. Why should it work that way on Twitter, when it doesn’t work that way with other media? I never expected David Letterman to start following my work just because I watch his show, and I’ll never answer all the phone calls I get (from telemarketers, etc.).

    And that’s fine. Each medium is for our own use, the best way we can figure out how to use it. Sure, there are sensible guidelines to good etiquette: there’s a reason most people give their name when they’re initiating a phone conversation.

    But we each have to find our own way, regardless.

  6. Thanks for your honesty. It really is important to figure out our capacities and goals, and just let that be the driver (instead of aping someone else who’s wired entirely differently). I’d still rather clear tables than make small talk in social settings, though slowly and steadily evolving into a more outgoing person…

  7. Social Media success isn’t measured by the number of people who listen, but by the number of lives you’ve changed.

  8. I think that the #1 rule of social media is that there are no rules. Just because you follow less than 100 on Twitter and I follow more than 900 absolutely does NOT make you any less of a social media person than me!

    The beauty of this medium is you get to shape your own experience. You get to let people in who you want to let in, and if you choose, stay on the periphery with others.

    Social media is about communication and building relationships. You build relationships with your readers every time you write one of your wonderful blog posts. That’s why we keep coming back.

    I agree with Douglas – it’s not about your numbers, it’s about your impact.

  9. joanna – it’s a relational bandwidth thing? (that’s what’s hard about FB
    and why SL didn’t even cross my radar).

  10. lillie – it isn’t everyone, that’s for sure. And, our closest friends
    understand when it isn’t us. They actually understand us!

  11. Robert – there are personality differences. That’s how we’re built. And we
    ignore that (as I often do) at our peril.

  12. Avil “when I feel overwhelmed…”that’s a great sentence. The baby steps,
    the learning, the gradual step forward and step back…that works great.
    Thanks.

  13. Tim, great images. The challenge is understanding when this is social more
    than media. Those lines are blurry. But I like the Letterman metaphor.

  14. Steve – letting our capacities and goals be the driver. What a great
    approach. Thanks!

  15. Douglas- i read today that one good deed is more significant than many great
    intentions. Resonates with what you say here. Thanks for the wall plaque.

  16. Sue – a wonderful comment. A post in itself. Thank you.

  17. Wow! I’m honored to be on the list of those that you follow!!🙂

  18. Funny, this is the second post like this I have read today!

  19. I love being on Facebook–keeping up with friends by snippets works for me. But I decided early on I couldn’t handle the apps–didn’t have time for many and didn’t care about most. So, I routinely click “ignore” when I get requests for this or that and, every once in awhile, mention to the Facebook world in general that I don’t do apps but love my friends just the same–or send a personal note of explanation. I’ve never had anyone say “You fiend!” and banish me from their list of Facebook friends because of it.

  20. i love the blanket rule, amy. it makes it easier to decide once than to have
    to decide every time.

  21. I simply appreciate the fact that you’re willing to be authentic. That’s no small deal.

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