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Oct 13, 2017

The Rules of #Real

Social media is here.

I don't know if you've noticed or not. I hope you sense my sarcasm.

In fact, it's been here.

I was thinking the other day, that I've been on social media for roughly two thirds of my life. It dates back to the MSN messenger, AOL messenger, Xanga and Myspace days and then onto Facebook when my college was one of the first networks created. Before Facebook came along, my friends and I were already using instant messenger statuses as a way to share what we were up to or the latest group of song lyrics that applied to our current life situation at the time. I remember always crafting an 'Away Message' before leaving my dorm room.

Social media has become a way of life especially as it now fits into the palm of our hands 24/7. Whether you're on a blog, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, Pinterest and many other channels, it's how we search for information on a business or person, look for today's headlines, discover new products and communicate with our loved ones and... not-so-loved ones. Whether we like it or not, we have all become influencers. Unbeknownst to us, we are crafting our own personal brand by what what we share and how we share.

However, in a world where some are still reading print newspapers and watching local TV stations, we still look at social media as this realm of entertainment or information resource and communication tool hat doesn't count.

But it does count. Oh, how it does.

Much like fashion, photography, design, the food industry, automobiles, farm machinery and technology, social media hones trends that are constantly changing. From what channels are popular to use to how we should share things whether it's through photographs, writing, video or memes, if you don't stay up with the latest trends, your voice will get lost. If you go to a Facebook or other social media workshop, the content of that workshop is relevant for the month, if that. That's how often trends are changing. It has become standard for companies to hire outside contractors to consult with on social media trends and many even have in-house staff members whose job is to run the company social media channels. That's yesterday's news but so many people to this day still roll their eyes at the mention of careers in social media.

People are constantly preaching about what kind of content should be shared and not shared. With social media, we've become extremely personal. Complete strangers may know more about us than our best friends or family members. Social media has given literally everyone a platform if they so choose to use it; politically or not.

However, as we've become personal, we've also become unreal. We hold off sharing good news and large purchases as we don't want to appear as boasting. We bite our lips as we erase an emotional post about a hardship or struggle we may be going through because we don't want to come across as an emotional basket case. We are afraid that our struggle or blessing may be menial to someone else.

Over six years ago, I started Old Blue Silo. I was afraid to share pictures from the old farmhouse we were living in as it was old, outdated and some rooms were very less than ideal. I was embarrassed of it, not knowing that many, many, many folks were living in the same kind of situation. We started building our new pole barn house and as much as I wanted to share the entire building process, our floor plans and my journey through decorating, I held off because of a comment a friend made. Because they didn't have a new house, they didn't think it was fair that I shared our new home. That same person also knocked me down in my journey through leadership. I held back from inspiring others with some things I was so proud of because of things one person said. Even though I didn't go into a lot of detail or share the process of building our home or my journey in leadership, I still have provided some sneak peaks and enough information to spark reader interest. I find myself receiving emails on a daily basis, full of burning questions from readers who too have interest in pole barn homes and furthering their leadership journey.

I have found myself buried in a situation where it is going to take a lot of work to dig myself out. I've recently been inspired to go back through and start sharing more of our home and my leadership with readers, regardless of what one person said years ago. However, as you know, it's much harder to go back in time and relearn all of those basic details you once knew by heart. In fact, I don't have a digital copy of our floor plan anymore. I will have to recreate that. But, it's something I want to do for you because... it's time to start being real.

Be #real... regardless of your current status or situation. Your successes will inspire others to be successful and crush their own goals. Your struggles will help others through their own.

When it comes to being real in person and on social media, the rules are wide open as long as you stick to these guidelines:

Share the good.

Share the bad.

And YES, share the ugly.

But please. Please don't BE ugly.

By ugly, you know what I mean. Find that fine line. Don't post on a social media channel what you wouldn't say to one's face. And for goodness sakes, what happens behind a closed door, keep it behind a closed door.

The other day, I shared a very raw video on Old Blue Silo's Facebook page with my readers. Some thoughts were weighing heavy on my mind and I couldn't take it anymore. I literally turned off the TV and sat up straight as I started recording. I shared some successes I've been keeping from you guys and I shared some hardships that our family has been going through. My in-laws separated this summer. It's been very hard. But that's all I need to share for now. The rest, is their personal business. Our family isn't perfect and neither is yours. You know how to get a hold of me if you're through the same thing and would like to talk about it. That's why I shared it. You can share your struggles without airing your dirty laundry too.

Social media is not going anywhere. It's time to really learn how to use it.

You can use it as a tool to influence, inspire and relate or you can use it to craft an unreal life that makes someone else feel less than ideal.

Share that new vehicle. But share it because you've worked hard for it. Share the features and functions you love about it so someone else vehicle shopping can learn something. Share that hopefully positive experience you had with the dealership and the salesperson so we can pay them a visit our selves. Don't share it just because you want to one up your neighbor. Just don't.

I am inviting you to forget about what others may think and join me in a challenge to be more #real in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly.

Will you join me?


PC: Sarah Straeter Photography

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