Halloween and Social Media

Halloween has been and gone.

The doorway between two worlds is closed for another year.

The concept of Halloween reminds me of social media and alternative realities.

I have just ended my self enforced term on Facebook. It is a long story but it comes down to a desire to get over myself and the realisation that as a writer who aspires to be an author one day – I really needed to take a gigantic leap over my own insecurities.

How does one get over oneself? To me it was a puzzling problem. I found when I began writing in the public arena (on a different blog) that I seemed to care an awful lot about what others thought of me. Or rather what I thought others might think of me. As a writer caring about what other people think is akin to travelling with an eraser in one hand and a pencil in the other. Nothing was getting done. I would post something one day then delete it the next.

I lacked purpose and direction or any valid sense of who I really was let alone what I was trying to say.  I wasn’t being the sort of writer I wanted to be. I wasn’t allowing myself to be. As a writer I needed to be able to write fiercely and fearlessly exactly whatever it was that I wanted to communicate without the process becoming tainted by my concerns of how someone else might receive/perceive it. Or indeed whether they would eventually be bothered to read my work at all.

So I came up with a mad plan that was hatched in the middle of the night – as all mad plans are – and it seemed quite sensible at the time.

I decided that for a year I would post from the heart on Facebook. I would actually write posts not just wack up the odd meme (as most people seem to do) and many of the memes are rather odd but anyway that is judgemental thinking which is exactly what I wanted to survive the possibility of invoking in others.

I added as many family as I could drag out to befriend me and when I say drag – I mean drag. I had one sister in law who had not accepted my friend request after a fortnight so I called her and basically made her accept me.

Is this odd? I don’t know, I don’t care to question myself over such things anymore. I probably did at the time but you see I needed her to be standing on the sidelines watching my posts. Did she cringe? I have no idea – she never even “liked” a single thing I posted – did I care? Yes of course but I was supposed to care – the deeper the better so that I may get to the point of not caring so deeply.

And if that seems odd – I now don’t care.

I didn’t tell anyone (apart from a couple of other writers) what I was doing – as that would be beside the point.

I also didn’t stipulate (to myself) that I wouldn’t delete any posts – after a certain amount of time had elapsed of course. I’m only human. At the start I took quite a few back down but I always made myself wait to feel the burn of shame that comes when a normally quite private person goes and slaps a personal post up on good old Facie.

It was excruciating but highly beneficial. If people couldn’t handle me at 100% proof then …they really needed to know that and so did I. The silence was deafening at times!

During that enforced wait (before deleting a post) I watched closely how I felt and after awhile – a good long while – things started to change. I became a little more fearless, a little less embarrassed. By the end, I would usually leave things up a good week before I went back and deleted them because – well this was an experiment and I didn’t need messy things languishing around for decades on Facebook. That wasn’t the point of the exercise. The point – was to be exactly who I was and learn to deal with the fact that some people that I cared about may not actually “like” this new openly writing communicating version of me. And for this openly writing communicating me to learn how to not care so much about such possible outcomes.

I never said anything I didn’t mean – I was completely authentic. Whether it was a post about food or a post about a family holiday or a post about how I felt – I told the story honestly and in much the same way as if I had been verbally relating it.

It served absolutely no purpose to not be from the heart or else how would my poor little jittery fluttery thing learn to grow big strong wings? So I posted and I posted and apart from the odd week or so when it all got far too much – I kept it up till it didn’t bother me in the slightest anymore. Which was about a year funnily enough and then I stopped.  I started more or less with a bike trip and ended the same way – on a high note.

Some of it was fun. Some not so much. But it is a relief to have it all over. The sharing thing is …well like losing very real pieces of yourself. And perhaps it is pieces of yourself – pieces that you used to wear in order to make other people and yourself comfortable. Going naked in public is deeply uncomfortable, both for you and for the observer, it makes sense to cover some things up. But it is also beneficial to know what you are wearing and when you are doing so and why.

Because writing is about revealing and revelation can be disturbing yet nothing happens without it. So one must learn to deal with being disturbed and creating it in others. Especially when those “others” are people you may bump into whilst doing the Grocery shopping or sitting down to Christmas lunch with.

Twelve months of sharing excerpts of my life on social media as authentically as possible has radically shifted how I view the judgements and opinions of other people. It has radically shifted how I view and judge myself.

I’ve had a clean out and burnt all the masks that I didn’t even knew I used to wear.

Halloween truly is over.