do you have time to connect?

My grandmother age 1, looking for a connection . . .

My last post posed the question: How do you deal with feedback?. It opened up a great comment conversation and also raised a slightly different question: How to deal with no feedback, how to deal with not a peep, how to – in the words of Janice Bear – “listen to the crickets chirp” after you’ve put something you’ve been working on out there for public consumption, public viewing, or for sale.

So let’s take a step back here: Most of us artists, writers, photographers, crafters, entrepreneurs, etc. use the internet to communicate with people about what we are working on. It’s a given now that if you are smart and savvy, and especially if you are self-employed, you are working your brand and getting the word out on whichever social media platforms that you work within. Right?

I don’t know about you, but I feel overwhelmed on a good day by:

  • the mail in my inbox(es),
  • Facebook and Twitter updates,
  • my blog feed,
  • keeping up with topics in my online groups,
  • getting the word out on my own work and projects,
  • and then balancing the work that I need to do, both for deadlines and for myself.

I have a finite amount of time in the morning to get through my inbox, so I:

  • clear the clutter,
  • save the friend/family mails that I can’t answer now, to get back to at lunch or when I have a break,
  • deal with mail from clients and on-going projects,
  • write and send e-mails for future work and make contacts with folks I’d like to work with,
  • and then save some other anomalous mail I’d like to get back to in this mythical land I like to call Later, and truthfully I rarely get back to it.

A thoughtful response, a comment left on a blog, comments left on a Facebook post, or responses to a Tweet – they all take time, and for a lot of us time is the commodity we have the least of.

I know I’ve been guilty of not connecting back when someone has reached out to me, and truthfully that fact doesn’t feel good.

For anyone who knows me, you know I have a love/hate relationship with social media, and I imagine I am not alone in that, but for me the thing that I like least about it is the “disconnect.” Yup, you read that right: I think that as much as all these medias have reconnected us with old friends, connected us with new friends and collaborators, and as much as they have opened up worlds for us as creators and entrepreneurs, it has also disconnected us from the actual connecting.

Most of us are overwhelmed by the amount of information that passes through our inboxes and feeds. Most of us are doing the best we can to get though what has to be dealt with, and letting the rest go. Most of us are so up to our ears in connecting that we don’t respond as often, don’t read as much in depth, and don’t finish online coversations.

So here’s the irony: if we are all out there sharing and posting and updating our work, and we are all pretty much maxxed out, and trying to get our own work done, then who’s reading all these posts and updates? And of the people who are reading posts and updates, who is making the time to comment or respond?

We read blog posts and respond sometimes, we look at Twitter or Facebook streams on our phones and respond when we can (if at all), we read (or skim) any of our other internet stomping grounds, and contribute when we can. But the time ticks away each day and there is only so much that we can fit in without feeling out of breath, and there is only so much we can commit to doing.

So what say you? Are you interested in more communication/dialogue on line?

Do you want to find some time for interchange? OR would you rather be moving some of that on-line connecting to your real time world, and creating some face to face dialogue? Are you too overwhelmed with the constant stream of information that comes though your inbox and through your social media streams?

Just how are you feeling about all this connection?

14 thoughts on “do you have time to connect?

  1. Do you know how good it is to hear someone else say that they’re overwhelmed by just the day to day? It’s interesting that the whole point of social media is to build relationships, yet so much of it feels like a big ‘ol “look at me”-fest.

    I focus on connecting with real people and sharing quality stuff – like this post. Things that people in my circle will find helpful. I want to add something positive to someone’s day, not just add to the noise.

    Thanks for putting this out there.

  2. I am in the process of starting a small business right now and am kind of overwhelmed with the internet-marketing and social network part of it. I am an avid internet user and read many blogs on a regular basis but up to now i rarely leave comments, almost never log onto facebook, don’t tweet and don’t blog. On a personal level I just don’t feel the need to connect to endless amounts of people and prefer face to face interaction with only a few people at a time. Now, I feel like I should be doing all of these things systematically and regularly in order to create publicity for my biz. I am rather introvert and the thought of sharing information with and connecting to strangers is at the same time intimidating and fascinating. I feel, however, that the danger to get sucked in without really getting your time’s worth is pretty high when it comes to online networking. This is probably not so much the case with offline connections.

    1. Friederike – it’s like you were describing me! I absolutely hear what you say, particularly about getting sucked in without getting your time’s worth. This is definitely an interesting world to try to navigate through. I hope we both work out a solution :)

  3. On one hand, I know that technology has helped to open up communication globally. Especially for those of us who live far away from big cities, we are able to “meet” and connect with so many people. The connections that we have formed, would not have been possible in the past.

    On the other hand, I certainly know the feeling of being overloaded. I feel behind in so many ways and it is definitely not a good feeling.

    However, whether you talk about online or offline life…we have to find our own balance and make our own decisions about what is priority. Even your old fashioned local library presents an overload of possible information. But we must choose the books to read versus those we do not… there will never be enough time to do it all…

  4. I am just starting to really dip my toe into social medai, and what I’m finding is that it in some ways takes away the drive for that face-to-face (or even phone) contact. It’s hard call or see someone “just to catch-up” when everyone’s news is up online somewhere. It feels to me at least that the excuse to make that personal contact is gone, and that feeling is very isolating.

    I agree with Lisa: a good portion of social media is a lot of navel-gazing, and true relationships are becoming harder to find. And I too would greatly prefer to have something meaningful to say instead of just adding to the din.

  5. This is a fantastic post. I try to make time every day to comment on roughly five blogs. I only do that after I’ve cleared my inbox as much as possible though.

    It’s a very odd love/hate relationship we have with this connectivity in my opinion. If my email stays quiet for a long period of time, I would freak out that my business wasn’t doing well or something, but when it’s crazy chaotic, it stresses me out too.

  6. Great topic! I’m not a social media ninja, I just use the basics, but I do find tweeting with people more interesting, meaningful and fun after I have actually met them face to face. Same thing with Facebook. I have so many Facebook ‘Friends’ that I know in only the most tangential of ways I want some kind of ‘start over’ button so I know who the h*ll those people are in my list of ‘friends’.

    I go back and forth, but lately, I am really diggin’ my offline interactions, whether it’s collaboration, networking or meeting for conferences or craft nights. Where social media can drain, meeting face to face energizes.

  7. I am trying to be more active w/ social media but I feel very overwhelmed and frustrated at times. In the past I have just walked away from it but now that I trying to start a small business I know that is not an option.

    The constant “I went to the grocery store” “I had eggs for breakfast” facebook messages drive me crazy!

  8. I too have as Sarah above says “a very odd love/hate relationship” with social media.

    I think it takes time to figure out like any relationship, and what works is different for each of us depending on personality. I much more value real time conversation and friendships, but I have also made some good friends and had some good conversations online.

    For me what has made it most confusing is the barrage of “how to” ebooks, workshops, and other stuff out there leading us to believe there is some magic solution.

    After ingesting much of that I am making my own rules and there are still plenty of days that overwhelm me, but I am more at peace with it in general. I take time to comment when I can on things that really interest me, like this, and to reciprocate as I can by taking time to check on those that follow my work.

    I have not done as well here, supporting other Scoutie Girl writers and that is going to change!

    Great post Liz!

  9. I have found that I need a day every now and then to UNPLUG. I’ll still check my Etsy shop and personal FB and email, but I allow myself to disembark from the social media roller coaster, reconnect in real life with family and friends, and create things for the shop I’m trying to promote. If my virtual “shelves” are empty, what’s to promote?? (I’m thinking about making this a weekly commitment to myself.)


  10. My relationship with social media depends on the way the wind blows. Some days I am in love, inspired and energized with it and others times I am completely overwhelmed, disconnected and beat myself up over all that I am not doing. I honestly couldn’t imagine it gone though.

    I think being in the right frame of mind makes a difference for me, maybe asking myself “Am I in the frame of mind to be open and excepting of what I may stumble upon right now or should I do something else and tap into social media when I’m feeling more, well, social.” would be a good practice to put in place to keep myself in balance.

    I love empapers comment “Where social media can drain, meeting face to face energizes.” that is true in many ways. When I work my creative biz full time I want face to face time with other creatives built into my schedule but, for now online communication fills the void.

    Great post Liz.

  11. It seems most of us have that love/hate relationship with this media. I agree with one of the respondents that my facebook status updates are more meaningful when I have met my contacts face to face.

    That face to face piece is also part of the dilemma. Getting yourself out there means you will not know who is looking at your stuff and who is (hopefully) purchasing your stuff.

    I imagine every age probably has this same puch-me-pull-you relationship. As our society has become more complex and spread out we have lost some of the charm of knowing everyone in your daily circle. On the flip side, the seeming disconnect has also been a good thing for people who think outside the norm for their particular cultural area.

    On a personal level social media has been a good place for me to experiment with showing my art. In my family there can only be one artist per generation and family side and that was never identified as me. The artist inside me was always waiting to be known.

    Being able to link with different people and places has allowed me to be an artist. Eventually I have been recognized by some in my family as an artist, but still not others. Such is life. It is easier to handle because I have been meeting people who are encouraging, supporting and value my art.

  12. Liz–

    I laughed to myself when I realized that I loved this post, but was going to just skip away without leaving a comment, or making a connection.

    I value the comments, emails, etc that I receive, all the ways that people connect with me, show me that my work has meaning for them–so much.

    But it’s so time consuming to do everything on my end, the connecting back is hard sometimes. Or not mindful.

    Thank you for the reminder to reciprocate, and to do so in a meaningful way when I do. I like to be selective, to go quality over quantity.

    xo Maeg

  13. I agree. Some days I just close my computer and walk away even leaving the ever present “to do” and “must do NOW” lists running. I go outside (weather permitting) or work on a project or just read something fun. I am inspired by the comments here about connecting one on one. I need to do this more. Just as I work through leads in my business, it’s quality leads vs. quantity. The quality connections will prove far more fruitful than all the online chatter and “look at me” people who I am finding I disdain. I’m starting to use social media to weed out the attention whores and find the quality people who deserve attention and promotion. Thanks for a great post. It will provide a lot of food for thought, especially when I unplug.

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