october newsletter: unplugged [2018]

October 16, 2018

“I just want you to know me – the day to day, regular me.”
-Message In A Bottle, 1999

I was told by a friend, lovingly, after she had read what I had written for this month’s newsletter on social media: “Start over. Blank slate. Why is it hard for you?”

I researched. I had an outline. I thought it made sense, that I had made some really great points, and that I was maybe even a little funny. Those of you who know me well know that I am, in fact, not funny and shouldn’t try to be.

It saddens me sometimes that we feel the need to put every moment on display for all to see. I look at my life and think about how many of my most memorable moments – joyful and trying alike – were not documented at all; they’re secrets I get to keep forever. No one can judge; no one can ever really know unless they were there. So, even if the people fade out of my life or if the places change from the way they used to look, I still have the experience. Upcoming generations won’t have the luxury of privacy and real presence, I’m afraid, and I believe it will do more harm than good.

To the contrary, everyone is selective with their online image. Am I going to showcase my bad days? Imagine a caption: “Wrote two offers on two great houses today; both were beat in multiple offer situations by investors with cash, so guess it’s back to the drawing board for my buyers! #lovemyjob” No. We do not post that kind of stuff, but it happens. So, when looking at others’ accomplishments – because that is all they will post – know that you’re not getting the entire picture. It is important to celebrate others’ milestones, careers, and relationships, but I have to remind myself constantly that comparison is pointless without full perspective. Those who look like they have it all together, don’t. None of us do.

I took a break from social media for awhile in September because I felt myself heading to different outlets too often in between meetings, tasks, and social events, slipping into comparison mode regularly, and most of the time, it was subconscious. The thoughts we don’t realize we are having are generally the most dangerous; they build up over time and influence us positively or negatively in a big way. My friends, the easiest way to stunt your own growth is to use someone else’s facade as a measuring stick.

Social media is an incredible tool; but like everything else, it is usually best utilized in moderation. Happiness isn’t an image from one moment in time; it’s a decision. Success isn’t a destination; it’s a mindset. Community isn’t a few clicks on a keyboard; it is real time, effort, and mess.

So, relax, and enjoy your own job, relationships, and hobbies, sans the need to document every second.


Syd Phil