YOU HAVE TO…

The ways in which technology have changed our world is something that fascinates me. I was listening to a podcast the other day and the guest was commenting on an old copy of a Radio Shack Catalog (Radio Shack is an Old Electronics Store that was very Popular while I was growing up). He was saying that approximately 13 out of the 15 items on the cover of this old electronics catalog are now combined in one device – the smartphone. Think Polaroid cameras, camcorders, fax machines, phones, personal computers etc. One of the other major change agents in our society over the last 10-15 years is social media. I can remember first getting on Facebook in my 4th year of college. It was 2004. Myspace was still around at the time. Back then, my primary motive for getting on Facebook was experiencing the reaction of my old high school classmates when they saw how much weight I had lost. Real talk, I was trying to get my shine on. LOL! That motive wore out pretty quickly for me. I never was one to engage with people through the platform. Over the years I would have periods of activity and inactivity. Probably around mid 2014, I made the decision to get off of Facebook. I began to notice myself logging on in anticipation of notifications about new likes or messages. What’s weird about this expectation was the fact that I wasn’t contributing anything to the platform. I wasn’t commenting on other people’s posts. I wasn’t posting. Yet I was looking for the experience to give me something. I didn’t like the way I was thinking about it so I removed myself.

Then, in late 2015, I started posting videos on YouTube telling you it was time to get your crap together! LOL! When I say everybody and their mama was like, “YOU GOTTA BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!” Geez! It was like getting my arm twisted… well, more like an emotional arm. Anybody that I talked to at the time that was involved in building a small business seemed almost appalled that I wasn’t using social media, “Travis you really have to catch up with the times!” I cracked and started a Facebook Page. I did that for about 3 years and added an Instagram/LinkedIn Profile at one point. It was fear. That’s the emotional arm that people were twisting. Specifically, fear of missing out (FOMO). Back in 2015 when I was first starting all this my thought process was to pick the activity I could do consistently and try to get incrementally better over time (Focus, Consistency, and Patience). Post one video a week on YouTube and speak where ever I was invited. 4 years later, I’ll be speaking for South Sound Business Magazine in December, I’ve spoken to Football Programs at The University of Tennessee and Indiana University, I’ve spoken to staff at MultiCare, I’ve spoken to small business owners here in the South Sound, and I’ve spoken to countless groups of teens here in Tacoma. I’ve also given a TEDx Tacoma Talk. All this happened via word of mouth. None of my videos on YouTube have more than 150 views. My website rarely gets more than 2-3 visitors per day. The way I see it, the videos and blogging have helped me refine my ideas and thoughts which then helps me deliver with impact when it’s time to grab the mic. I continue to write because I want to give people something for free but I also want to sharpen myself for when I finally do get the time and space to write a book. Not a single one of my opportunities has come from social media. Not to mention, social media gives me anxiety, which then takes away from my writing and speech prep. The things that are working are: blowing people’s minds when I speak and writing to help the reader adapt and overcome. If I speak well and write well, I imagine people will tell others. Yet, almost universally people criticize me for not being on social media. What’s the issue? I think it boils down to our old friend ‘the story’.

In the blogging era, the beginning of YouTube, and early on in the Social media landscape (2005-2015) there was a lot more organic movement of ideas, products, and services. Now, everyone knows and everyone is trying to sell ‘something’: ideas, brands, widgets, services, etc. When I tried Instagram/LinkedIn last year, it felt like constant clamoring for attention. It was draining and I hated it. Facebook now allows little in the way of organic growth. It makes sense. Just before I eliminated my personal profile I can remember rumblings about people being frustrated with all the stuff popping up in their news feeds. More and more, people were catching on to how you could start something (anything) on social media. However, if everyone is talking on the channel, then the channel gets overcrowded and you have to have a way to thin the crowd. That’s where paid advertising comes in. It makes sense. I have no qualms with any social media platform making money. I simply chose not to participate. But, since the rise of the influencer and Gary Vee (whom I am a fan of btw), there’s this narrative building (a story) that in order to be successful in your side-hustle or social change endeavor, you have to be on social media. I just don’t believe that’s true.

Ball Automotive is an Auto Repair and Used Car Sales Shop here in North Tacoma. If you look up that name online, you won’t find a website. I was having trouble with my car and needed a good price on the repair work. A few people recommended I try Ball Auto. They’re a staple in this area and I suppose that’s because they consistently deliver a stellar service and they’re honest. Now I recommend them to everyone. No website. I think they might have a Facebook page. They for sure have the heart of the community they serve.

My two cents: seems like we should be spending more time actually becoming a compelling human being rather than spending a bunch of time trying to portray the brand of a compelling human being on social media. Not telling anyone they should quit social but we should be careful about propagating ‘have to’s’:

  • You have to buy a house. It’s your best financial asset. (How is something that you are constantly spending money on a financial asset?)
  • You have to go to college.
  • You have to eat meat.
  • You have to not eat meat.
  • You have to have a car.
  • You have to have a new car.
  • You have to have a job with benefits.
  • You have to pay attention to the news (a whole other blog post).
  • You have to have alcohol when socializing.
  • You have to use credit.
  • You have to be on social media because you have to build your brand (Get The F**k Outta Here!).

A saying that I heard a lot growing up was, “The only thing I gotta do is be Black and Die!” For the most part, I agree.

Y’all, if it’s making you anxious, than let it go. If it’s lowering your self-esteem, let it go. If it’s a drain on your time, let it go. That goes for anything. Don’t let anybody tell you that you have to participate in some arbitrary activity because everyone else is doing it. Follow the fundamentals. Does it add value to your life, that then helps you add value to others? If yes, do it. If not, don’t.

How has social media affected your life? Is it net positive or negative? Thinking broader, are there ‘have to’s’ that you have felt pressured into? What has been the impact?

I Love Y’all and Thank You for Reading!

-Travis

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