Social media’s incitement to celebrate everyone and everything is not the way for me as a solo freelancer
A little while ago, I retired one of my major clients because I wanted to step away from writing work that I knew wasn’t truly satisfying my soul needs and embrace more fully the writing that could. To create the opportunity for this to happen, I needed to first create the space.
So here I sit full of anticipation and delight at what might be, aware that attracting the right type of work is as simple and as complex as showing up and being very clear about what I will and won’t do.
But there is this little voice calling me from afar saying ‘you need to market yourself’ and it is this voice that fills me with revulsion. I can honestly say I hate marketing.
I am a person, complex and wonderful like any other. That, in this phase of my life, now 50 plus and with the sum experience of a 30 plus-year career (ironically much of it in marketing), I need to reduce myself to some sort of commodity that can be marketed is something I am finding very unpalatable.
Social media has done something equally wonderful and terrifying. The way everyday people can build an online persona is a type of freedom I couldn’t have imagined when I first started earning my own living. But this is also the problem. The persona is often another mask designed with the often not so subtle message of ‘pick me, pick me.’ I just can’t go there.
Flowing through my feed are the constructed images of ‘successful’ people telling me how wonderful their method or product is, sharing their ‘secret tactic’, convincing me their call to action is limited and life changing, and it makes me despair. I take in the dozens of people in my feed alone who promise to share their secret sauce’ if only I register for their webinar RIGHT NOW or who in all their supposed realness do a piece to camera about themselves that is little more than yet another call to action.
I‘m sure I am not the only one whose BS radar is hyperactive.
Self-revelation seems to be the latest marketing tactic (sharing your story is fine but what is the intent?) but it’s not real honesty– it’s designed, it has a goal (usually financial), an expectation attached to it and this I think is at the core of my discomfort. The desired outcome is nothing more than a manipulation.
Build your platform, increase your likes, make videos starring yourself – these are all things we are told we must do to establish or grow our profiles. But what for the people who simply do not wish to turn their life and living into a series of posts? What about women like me who don’t want to be viewed and judged or commented on in such a public space, women (or men for that matter) who simply want to live quietly, with some sense of privacy and dignity about how much of their own personal world is offered to the public arena.
I don’t want to reduce myself to a series of dot points and marketable key points of difference. I don’t want to wake up each morning and have to think about what impressive post I can come up with today to make you all like me, or seek out what I have to offer. I don’t need to feel the adoration of like traffic to let me know I am ok today. I don’t want to treat the people I will write for one day as though those things matter to them, because I honestly believe that beyond the mediated experience of the online environment there are still people like me who value authenticity, not as a marketing touchpoint, but as a way to live held deeply in the heart.
What if we didn’t participate in all this constructed madness and the incessant need to up the ante? I have always said a real product doesn’t need to be marketed.
And I don’t think a real person needs to be either.