The Running of the Salmon
When I was in high school my family and I went on an Alaskan cruise, and along the way we stopped at one of the islands to get a tour of where the salmon swim upstream during the spawning season. I don’t remember a lot of details about what I learned on that day, but I do remember some of the images. They can best be described as sea of confusion and chaos, where the salmon swam furiously upstream, looking nothing like themselves in the process.

Sometimes I feel that way when it comes to my social media/technological life. It can be confusing, chaotic, and I often feel like I’m swimming upstream in a sea of confusion. Ultimately that leaves me feeling “other” than myself, and my identity looking nothing like I hope or want. I feel like in the process I become less of who I am in order to keep up with who everyone else is…or projects themselves to be.

How Does Social Media/Technology Fit Into My Life
I have been thinking about how social media/technology fits into my life for a long time, and it wasn’t really until I attended John Dyer’s workshop, Using Technology, Without Technology Using You at the ECHO Conference, that I really got a better sense of what I want out of it.

One: I don’t want to feel a sense of obligation to post blogs I don’t want to write, or use tools that I don’t want to use. This obligation comes from me, inwardly, not cause someone is holding me to it. And that’s a much deeper issue than I can begin to explore in this post.

Two: I don’t want just a breadth of content, but a depth of content. I don’t want content that is just cursory. I have concluded that I would rather post one very meaningful blog every week or two, then a short, cursory post every day. I’m starting to realize personally, how attracted I am to the sites that plumb the depths, rather than skim the surface.

Three: I don’t want social media/technology to overrun the boundaries I’m trying to set. If it’s getting in the way of spending time with family, going to bed at a decent time at night, or keeping me from hobbies like running and reading, then I need to put it back within its proper boundaries.

Four: I don’t want my identity to be based on the projection of external images I put out online, and the affirmation I receive back from them. I want it to come within, from a strong, core sense of identity. An identity that is placed in Christ, and not the number of Twitter followers or retweets I have, or the amount of traffic my blog has, or the supposed sphere of influence I have online. At the end of the day, those things just fade away.

This is what I want…for me. I’m not telling anyone else what they should do, or that this is the way everyone should do it. Some people work online all day, and social media is even more a part of their lives than mine. But even they tell me they have to set boundaries away from that work as well. One of the things I really appreciate about Tony Steward is how he continually experiments with social media to figure out how it can best serve him, not how he can serve it. Tony knows what’s in his “wheelhouse” (@mediapeople pointed this out to me in a conversation at ECHO), and doesn’t seem concerned about his stats, and whether or not he has a new post out every day. This is nowhere better exemplified than Tony ditching his personal WordPress blog, and going with Posterous because it better fit his life/work/time, etc.

What Will Change For Me
One: I hate to do it, but I’m no longer going to feel rushed to post my 100 blogs in 100 days on my therapy site. I could do it. But I started looking at my posts and realizing that it was more about surface content, than it was about really writing something of value for people. That’s not what you want as/for a therapist. Or pastor…or anyone really.

Two: I’m going to really strive to only post stuff on both and when I feel like it brings value to the readers, rather than just posting to post. Not give in to the pressure of traffic, stats, etc.

Three: I’m not going to sacrifice my family or hobbies in order to pick up the computer to post that obligatory post, or tweet that random tweet. Just isn’t worth it for me.

Four: I’m going to focus more on what is in my “wheelhouse.” It’s too easy to get caught up in random discussion, or arguments and debates online, and really lose focus of the specific skills or purpose I need to be about.

At this point, this blog is all talk unless I really start to practice what I am preaching. But I hope with some new focus, and some accountability from my wife and friends like you, I can achieve these things.

Can you relate to this struggle with social media/technology in your own life?

Is there anything you want to change about your social media/technology use?

Does social media/technology serve you, or do you serve it?

By the way, did you know salmon only spawn once in their lifetime and then they die? Don’t be a salmon when it comes to your social media use.