Are you For Sale?
A few years ago at my kids school, we had a lady who was very deeply into the new age movement. She ran workshops and retreats in meditation, yoga and female empowerment. She set herself up as a bit of a guru. It helped she was gorgeous, financially successful, slim, charismatic, and with a perfectly beautiful family. To all of us, slightly frayed, middle aged moms in the PTA group, she became somewhat of a role model. If we couldn’t be her, then maybe just by hanging around, some of that ‘special shiny enlightenment’ might rub off. About same time I was trying to set up small support groups, for victims of domestic violence. It was nothing too ambitious, practical help, safe spaces, bringing ladies together to support each other. What a great idea I thought, to get this particular lady involved, to spread her message of acceptance and self esteem to some of the most vulnerable women out there.
You know where this is going right? When I asked her if she would come and talk to these women, all the love drained quickly from her face and she turned me down flat.There was no money in it.
Selling Yourself Short
It taught me a valuable lesson. Everyone is looking to purchase you. You probably doubt it, but look about you. Someone pointed this out to me this week. How social media has become a short cut for connection. A way to ‘like, love and LOL’ without the need to bring your face along in person to show how you really feel. I agree it’s true, but only if we allow it to be. We cant undo the internet, there is no box to put it back into. We can acknowledge it is divisive though, and as such, we can take back that power and use it for our own devices.
As humans, we need to feel affirmed and connected. Nowhere is it as easy to find other people who will validate us, -and do it instantly- than social media. If you’re drinking three bottles of wine a day and lose your kid at the shops, there will be a place for you to laugh about it, likewise if you get all your kids up at 4.00am and make them do algebra drills, there’s a tribe for you too.
All the Feels
One of the most eye opening revelations to me since starting a blog is how very, ‘Wizard of Oz’ it all is If you dare to pull the curtain back a little. Social media determines what we are. Our clicks guide what we will be exposed to in the future. They dictate what we will be likely to buy. Haven’t seen that old friend’s news feed for a long time? Perhaps the emerald city algorithm has chosen a better friend for you, one that buys the same products, one whose choices in turn can reinforce your buying.
I am not against people making an honest buck, if its transparent, and you know what you are buying into. In truth nobody wants to know what they are really buying, because when you do, you take that pill and hop down the rabbit hole, and you never come out the same again. I buy extra dark organic chocolate because I love the taste.. Yes and No. I buy the chocolate because the kids DON’T like it, and then I don’t have to share, I feel a little bit like I spoiled myself (on a limited budget) and I can feel smugger about it than supporting Nestle, the evil water selling scum!
Every time I write a blog post I have a SEO checker pop up. This is basically a program that runs as your typing and suggests ways you can make your blog get more ‘traffic’ to your site, which if your selling something is important. It tells you the right ‘buzz words’ to use, and advises if you have used words people might not find popular. I am constantly fighting the damn thing because its always urging me to dumb everything down, shorten it, add a sponsored product, and make myself more sell-able. Bloggers are not called ‘Influencers’ for nothing.
Everyone wants to buy you. They feel your sadness every time you stuff your muffin top into your jeans, because you want to be your ‘ideal shape’. They see you with that magazine at the checkout, peering into the mirror needing to look ‘revitalized’ They know you crave that slice of perfect life to fill all the holes you might have elsewhere.They know you will pay.
On a business course recently. I was asked what my product was. What was I selling, of course I came back with my usual response, that I wasn’t ‘selling’ anything to which this lovely gentleman replied “but you are. you’re selling yourself” No. I am not selling me. I think I’m buying, and I’m buying into you.
I am buying an idea. The world is both a beautiful and terrifying place, but is the only place we have. It is what our children will inherit. We cant solve every problem. We all chase around on our own personal crusades, trying to fix things that affect us, whilst ignoring the big overwhelming problems, because really can we solve them? We are too insignificant. In the meantime, in our deep craving for distraction we are vulnerable to everyone trying to make a buck. Stick with me here. So what can we do?
I urge you to make mischief on social media. Ask those selling to give back, not necessarily of their product, they work hard too, but of their wisdom, mentor ship, of their time. You will find the measure of that person and just what you are buying. Give of yourself. Ignore the clickbait that pushes you to products and swamps your sponsored content with more of the same. Confuse the hell out of the algorithms by liking things you have absolutely no interest in (which is why my feed is full of Harley Davidsons, Toupees, and tropical fish.) Most importantly grow the ability to connect, to settle yourself, and to trust your ideas, Its free. Big Ideas don’t occur in isolation, they are cumulative, built from many other peoples diverse ideas combined. They gain traction in connected communities where people blossom, because we are in this crap together, make no mistake. Then once in a while, take your real face, to meet another real face, so you can LOL together.It starts with all of us.