I am being interviewed, and the voice on the phone asks me why I’m not very social on social. It takes me a second to decode his words, or even his intent. Social on social? What?
Is it not part of your strategy? he asks. You know, do you not see it as an essential part of your business plan?
And well, let me just start there, because folks, there’s no business plan here.
I know that’s terribly unpopular to admit. I know it’s not wise to say, that here I am flying by the seat of my pants, just hitting publish when the mood strikes. But I’d be lying if I told you otherwise.
Want to hear something top-notch selfish?
I blog for myself. It’s not a sales funnel, or a secret mission, or one small sliver of my thirty-year-plan. It’s just that I do it every morning because I’ve always done it every morning, and it changes me for the better.
I write daily, in a chilly room with big windows a scratchy wool blanket, space heater at my feet. It is quiet. There is coffee.
And that’s it. I open a new post and I write whatever is on my mind, whatever I want to – or rather, whatever I need to. I write about bruised knees and bruised egos, and I write what I want to remember most about this very season of raising children and raising myself.
I publish perhaps 1% of this, because the lines get blurry when my story edges into someone else’s, and because relevance is less important to me than reverence.
And it’s a gift to publish it, truly. It’s a gift to send it all out into ether and have it returned to me a hundredfold. It’s a gift to read your sweet comments, your kind and encouraging words. It’s a gift, it’s a gift, it’s a gift.
So I suppose I know what this interviewer was getting at. You have much to say, don’t you? So why aren’t you saying it? Why aren’t you playing the game?
And I haven’t uncovered the answer to this yet, not in my morning writing sessions, and certainly not in the span of 15 years online. But I want to, I do.
I offer many excuses: my hands are full. I don’t want the distraction. Twitter can be so loud, Instagram so carbon. Pinterest, a firehose. I quit Facebook ten years ago and found myself weightless again, no longer keeping up with the daily whereabouts of my high school salutatorian, now my mothers’ gynecologist.
I have, in the past, lived through seasons of robust social media usage and I have found those seasons to be the ones in which I am living the least. I have watched people leave the dinner table to get a wide shot of the spread, to post to their networks, to later return and find themselves having missed the passing of the gravy, the salt, an entire conversation.
I will not settle for such. (I’ve always wanted extra salt, after all.)
A few years ago, in a Jaipur tea house, I asked a friend how her culture defines success.
By the health of our relationships, of course, she says, as if it were the obvious answer, as if it were everyone’s answer.
I know that it’s not everyone’s answer, but it’s my answer, and I wish it’s the one I’d given the reporter that day.
Why are you not social on social?
The health of my relationships.
I know what he meant now, the reporter. I’m not terribly social on social, no. You will likely not find me producing an Instagram story in which I open my mail, or walk you through my closet, or offer a tour of my hometown. I used to think this was because I was private, which I am. Or because these things were sacred, which they are.
But I think perhaps it’s those things, and also another:
We cannot find each other here.
We cannot find each other in the puppy filters, the self deprecation, the linkbait headlines. We are settling for a smattering of one dimension when we have three available to us, in ourselves and the next door neighbor and the grocer down the street.
If I cannot bring you a casserole when your dog is dying, how social can we be?
I suppose I am writing all of this to say how much I appreciate this quiet room, and how much I treasure the white space available to type longer than 280 characters, to offer something deeper than a hashtag. I am writing this to say how much I appreciate you.
You, who have never asked me to be a “good blogger.” You, who have never demanded an editorial calendar, who have never begged to see the contents of my closet, my junk drawer, my garage. You, who have never requested a giveaway loop, who have never once minded that my kids’ birthday parties come and go with nary a rainbow cake or confetti balloon. You, who consider me as a person, not an influencer portioning my life in the name of content.
You, who are ever-patient with my lack of bullet point lists, or product round-ups, or click-worthy headlines. You, who read these small words despite my lack of brevity, and certainly without want for ramblings. ;)
You, who if a post goes unpublished or a social media platform goes unvisited, have never once suggested I hire help, or scale up, to better manage my “work.”
You, who have never once made this feel like work.
I know this is a time of year in which announcements are often made, changes often outlined. I know it’s proper to shake things up right about now, to start capitalizing on rich SEO terms – keto meal plans and coatigans. I know I should be rounding up the top wallpaper trends to look forward to, or 20 parenting books to add to your arsenal.
I should be using this space for more, it is taught.
And yet: this feels like just enough. You and me and stories, the backbone of our everydays unfettered by fluff. It feels right to assume you need no help from me in determining your daily outfits, or how to care for your fiddleleaf. It feels right to think you’re here for the same reasons I’m here – to shove the rest to the side and return to the basics, or at least to make a crack at it.
And so, here, I suppose the state of this space is the same as it has always been: both mine and yours. I promise to write when I can, to publish what I can, to attempt to learn from the both of it.
Thank you for joining me, coatigans or not.