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The Twitter Effect



Does pressure to appear more fun/successful/busy/exciting on social media platforms affect living our authentic lives?

Reposted from my personal blog, http://traveleatlove.com

As I sat at home on New Year’s Eve, run down by yet another cold/flu, exhausted from being awake all night coughing, and completely disinterested in food, I gave some thought to social media, eating habits, and in general, how social media makes keeping up with the Joneses a 24 hour, real-time concern.

As a marketer, social media is a big part of my work. Over the course of the past three years, I have started to spend about 50% of my work days writing social media content, working on strategies, managing communities, or reporting on analytics.

In addition to that, as you know, I keep up this blog, Twitter, Facebook (not so well), and now Pinterest (obsessed). Truthfully, unless I am in a meeting, on a call, or out and about, rarely a waking hour passes that I don’t check to see if I have any mentions, comments, or pins. Addicted? Perhaps. But I feel often that my professional life is so ingrained in my personal that it’s hard to step away, and heaven forbid I miss something! I do love social media marketing, but I guess there’s a line to be drawn.

My original New Year’s Eve plan was to cook a grand meal, paired with Champagne and one of my birth year wines. As I frumpily sat on the couch feeling miserable and unable to cook, I followed my Twitter stream, reading all of the fabulous things people were doing, making, eating. And it made me feel a million times worse.

Has this ever happened to you?

I’ve thought about it often; reading constant updates of people doing fun and exciting things puts a little bit of pressure on a girl. Because, in the olden days, if you knew a friend was going on vacation or to an amazing meal, you’d just be happy for her and want to hear all about it. Now? You have thousands of “friends”, so it seems like everyone is always doing something amazing.

Why am I sitting on the couch eating cereal for dinner when my tweeps are all feasting at the newest restaurant, traveling, or running a most epic long run? Or having an amazing work day when mine has been just average?

Where previously, this pressure might have come in the form a TV show or magazine spread, now it’s people you “know”. All the time. At any given time of day, someone in your feed is doing something cool, and you should be too. When you’re sick and can’t do pretty much anything, suddenly there’s nothing to say (probably means a good time to unplug). If you let it be, it’s always there.

I know that I open more wine because of what people are sipping on Twitter and because of my desire to find work in the wine industry than I would if I was sitting at home without my Blackberry glued to my hand. And I am certain I would be eating many more salads for dinner if I wasn’t so worried about interesting, blog-able food.

Maybe if I fill my feeds with more runners and health bloggers, I’ll feel some peer pressure to exercise more? Probably not, with social media, like most other things, it’s pretty easy to turn your attention to the things you want to be doing.

Do you think, to a certain extent, the rabid takeover of social media platforms has us living our lives a little less authentically and a little more for Twitter/Foursquare/Facebook/blog fodder?

Or is it just me?

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