It took me a while to grasp the relevance of social media. I found it during the summer of 2008, when Senator Obama was running for POTUS. He was using these new social tools as a means of reaching more people with his message, and so I checked it out in case it had any commercial application. I didn’t understand it for several months, but when I did, it was like an epiphany. And I threw myself into it. I followed a lot of people and engaged them directly. And I followed almost everyone back. At one point, my @ to tweet ratio was 4-1. I engaged a lot. It was hugely time consuming. I wouldn’t call it an addiction, but as someone who communicates for a living, having access to real people in real time on virtually any subject was a beautiful thing. I was totally enamored with the medium.
Then at some point last year, I started growing weary of all the people I was following. Most people seemed to be selling stuff, sharing things I didn’t really care about or starting to congregate in these tight little circles that felt more like exclusive gangs designed to propel each other into roles as experts of the medium. It felt inauthentic. Plus, the people I really liked were getting buried in my stream by these gangs. So I quit my old account (@smashadv) and started a new one (@jmitchem) as a way to manage my stream better. And I started engaging a lot less. I spent most of my time on Twitter sharing the stupid stuff that popped into my head and then responding to people who identified with the stupid stuff. I was blogging more.
When I changed accounts last September, I was also in the middle of a self-awareness phase of my life. I finally decided that I’m a writer. Over the past decade, I’d been an entrepreneur and copywriter and helped sell a ton of shit for big brands and mom and pop startups alike. But I’d lost some passion for business. So I shifted my focus from securing new accounts and building new brand messages, to working exclusively with one client – Boxman Studios. I saw Boxman as a unique opportunity to grow a company from the ground floor and help build it into a national brand before getting the hell out of business  altogether so I can write. And for the most part, it’s been going very well. But the writer thing is starting to wear on me emotionally and psychologically.
Looking back at my life, I feel like everything I’ve done to this point has been to push me into a place where I can tell stories and move people emotionally. Which is a bit different than mobilizing people to think about a brand or an idea in a new way. Only, this is a massive shift from working for security (money) to working for my sanity. I’m torn daily between priorities for work, and priorities for my heart. But I must work for security until I’m able to work for my sanity. With a family, a house and a full life – it’s just not very responsible to drop everything to write things that have no security attached to them. So I balance work, life, socializing and writing. And my time is completely filled.
I can’t quit my life. I can’t quit my job. I can’t quit writing.
So I’m going to change how I use social media. It’s time. No, I don’t ever see giving it up entirely. That’s just ridiculous. But I definitely have to change how I use it. No longer can I sit in front of Tweetdeck checking out what’s happening in the world, or seeing who is meeting up for drinks, or who is having good and bad days. I don’t have the time to peruse all the links people share. Or to talk about the latest celebrity news. Or figure out how to save the world. I have a beast inside of me that demands I acknowledge it. When I don’t, I’m an emotional wreck. So I must make time for it, nurture it and see what it’s made of. And the only way I can do that is to move farther away from the social media mainstream, and engage less. If you feel like you need to unfollow me, I completely understand.
I fucking love the people I’ve met in social media. I mean that. I may not know you in person, but you’ve helped me grow as a human being. Before social media, I was a classic introvert who kept my stupid thoughts to myself. Yesterday I published a post called Meanderings. It was a collection of thoughts I’d had from the previous few days which I could have pushed into Twitter, but didn’t. Doing that would have resulted in reciprocal dialogue that, while amazing, is very time consuming. Maybe I’ll write these kinds of posts more often, since I really can’t just stop my brain from thinking this way. And because I have to write about the moments in life that move me, I’ll likely continue blogging until they call it something else.
It’s time for a change. So here it comes. This medium has been one of the most important discoveries of my life so far. Because of it, I met you. And you have given me the confidence not only to acknowledge the beast inside of me, but to go in there and be alone with it.
Thank you.
Meanderings: Random Thoughts from a Troubled Mind (14mar11)
Meanderings: Random Thoughts from a Troubled Mind (20mar11)

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.