I woke this am and felt a spark to update my LinkedIn page. While browsing around the site and trying to figure out how useful it actually is/can be, I came across an interesting section of blog posts. Thousands of LinkedIn users have shared stories about their best mistake. As the title signifies, it’s about the mistakes you’ve made in your life that turned out to in fact be powerful lessons. The channel covers all types of mistakes; from quitting a job too soon to saying the wrong thing in an elevator withe company CEO present to doing a reality show. It got me to thinking about some of the smart mistakes I’ve made.
Hi, I’m J and I’m not on social networking,
That was me in 2008.
I was already out of college when Facebook became accessible to everyone. I was married so using Blackplanet and sites like it were of no use to me. I wasn’t in any Greek or professional organizations so I didn’t frequent message boards and list-serves. I had plenty of friends and was playing basketball overseas so chatrooms didn’t seem that alluring to me. In all honesty, I laughed at those who spent hours in front of the computer when it didn’t involve work or homework.
The obvious place to start was Facebook. My sister signed me up and I began the process of asking a bunch of friends in my circle “yo, what’s your Facebook?”. The irony looking back is many of those same friends are either no longer on Facebook or my bonds with them have declined to a point that we seldom speak. Facebook back then was “fun”. I don’t even know if “fun” is the right word to use, but it’s definitely more user-friendly than it is now.
Aside from that, I was also behind on many trends going on within the realms of gen Y. For a guy who had majored and worked in marketing, I found myself outside the loop in strategy meetings. I wasn’t familiar with certain terminology that was born out of new media. I feel like the Old Guy in the club even writing this. Even something as basic as linking up for a college reunion or planning a 1st date is now planned via social networking. In a short, I couldn’t avoid it anymore.
As superfluous as it may seem, social networking (its original purpose) has actually changed my life for the better. It’s encouraged my new passion as a writer. All along I’d looked at writers in a very narrow scope; journalists or creatives. But through social networking, I came across people who had a way of putting their lives on a screen without seeming pretentious or rigid. I hadn’t really heard the word “blogger” until 2010. I came across this site SBM and through it encountered a slew of other dope blogs. Since then, those once-personal blogs are now successful branded websites. Yet their humble beginnings were about regular people sharing their lives in hopes that someone, somewhere always “got it”.
Watching other people write so consistently and fluidly made me feel like “hey I can do this too.” It started with writing semi-professionally over on Examiner. Because that’s a paid position, I needed social interactions to make my little change. Before I fully understood why, I signed up for Twitter. Now knowing me is knowing that I generally don’t like people. So interacting daily with complete strangers seemed odd and kind of stupid to me.
It’s a great feeling when you’re pleasantly surprised.
Things do come full circle though. Social networking has in some ways become less about the social interactions and more about narcissism. On Facebook, everyone’s getting engaged, planning weddings, having babies, and enjoying their life with someone that they find pretty dope. At times, it feels like Facebook is just online photo storage without the filters. Whereas Twitter is the 2nd chance at high school/college for people who weren’t a part of the in crowd the 1st time. Although you control the quality of your interactions on social networking, you can’t avoid wackness like you can in real life.
So my best mistake is understanding that social networking is as more of a blessing as it is a curse. It’s going to piss you off, it can change the world, and you might even meet the love of your life or a lifelong friend from it. There are days where you’ll probably ask yourself “why do I bother to log on? Is that what humanity has become?”. However, I’m glad I didn’t let the stigma of “I have a life” keep me from exploring thousands of different viewpoints and stories.
What’s your best mistake?