Almost everyone in the world is on social media. For all its serotonin boost and connectivity, it can also, at times, be draining. We see all this content online, and it has become challenging to find which ones are true, which ones to believe, and which to subscribe to. In this episode, Whitney Lauritsen reflects on social media as the podcast crosses three years. She dives deep into social media content, newsletters, and other types of personal marketing that have been helping her business and brand. Ultimately, for all the conflicting things about it, what’s crucial to think about is whether it aligns with your values or not. Join Whitney in this timely episode of reflection, celebrating milestones while looking forward to the future on how to better serve yourself and others through social media.
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Do You Feel Conflicted About Social Media?
The first episode of this show came out several years ago. I thought the actual anniversary is the day of the release of this episode. It turns out that it is a few days past. The first episode came out on December 13th, 2019 and it is such an interesting time to look back on for many reasons. One is that the pandemic started shortly after that, which led to some interesting developments with this show because, in the beginning, I was deeply passionate about recording in person with my then co-host Jason and all of our guests.
We knew that that was preventing us from having certain types of guests but at the time, we thought that it would sound much better. I can even imagine doing all those recordings in person, especially since I’m much more aware of my energy levels and how drained I get from doing virtual recordings. I have admitted in the past how it is hard for me to gear up the energy to do this show. One major drawback to doing it all on my own without Jason, without a co-host, is that it is entirely up to me. When Jason used to be on the show, sometimes I would rely on him to lead the show when I was feeling low energy but I didn’t like showing up that way.
I’m glad that I’m doing it on my own and I fell into a rhythm that has worked well for me for years since the last episode with Jason in 2021 and now this is the 407th episode. I have mentioned how some people are amazed, even friends of mine who have had podcasts for much longer than I have, haven’t even crossed that many episodes.
Speaking of energy, a lot of people wonder how I have the energy and even the time to do many episodes of this show. A new one releases on Monday and Friday with a guest. I have thought about cutting down to one episode a week. There is something about those two days that feels fulfilling. That is going to tie into the theme of this episode, which is having clarity on what feels fulfilling and nourishing, especially when it comes to work and how to deal with things like burnout.
I’m going to share some behind-the-scenes about how I work, how I overcome things and how I think about things. I might do some processing out loud because there are some things I’m stuck on. I feel like if I can say them because I’m an out-loud processor, maybe I will have some clarity because I feel this internal stuckness, which I know is very common.
A lot of people use that word stuck. It comes up a lot in my private coaching sessions as I have embarked upon my emotional well-being coach journey. That is one of the most common things. A lot of people turn to coaching and find the advantage of coaching to be that out loud processing and hearing things that reflect you. I might do some of that.
Financial Stability And Social Media
I’m also going to go through some well-being coaching techniques that could hopefully help you because it is such a common thing. Here we are at the end of 2022, where you might be reflecting on how this year went and how you want 2023 to be. Speaking of this time, one thing I have found interesting and ties in but isn’t directly related to this topic is money. That is a big part of this but not exactly what I’m going to focus on in this episode.
It seems to me that a lot of people are struggling financially. It is interesting because that is mostly from anecdotal things I’m seeing on TikTok and how people are sharing budgeting tips more than I have ever noticed before. They are talking about inflation in the recession. I’m seeing people lose their jobs, people struggle to get work and rent goes up and people realize that they might be making more money but they are not able to save much more because everything is getting more expensive.
I’m noticing this too. I’m getting a little bit of a sinking feeling or a tightness in my chest because several virtual things that I use for my business as part of Wellevatr, as part of my work as a coach, my work as a consultant in the marketing world, a lot of these digital tools that I depend on are going up in price and it freaks me out like a lot of people. I will continue to be transparent that I’m still in a stage of probably the most financial stability I have experienced in such a long time, especially in 2022.
I say that to be very transparent, not as a brag like, “Look at what I accomplished.” If you know me at all, I’m not a believer anymore. I used to believe that if I can do it so can you. Now, I’m acutely aware that everybody has different circumstances and there is much privilege that goes into things. I will share in transparency a lot of my process if you are curious but it is not meant to be, “If I can do it so can you.” It’s sharing some of the clarity.
My financial stability comes mostly from my clients. I have two clients whom I have been working with consistently. One of them has been several years and the other is a year and a few months in 2022. I work with them both on the marketing side of things. That has been part of my work in many different ways since around 2009, maybe 2010, when I started learning about social media, coaching people on that and finding that that was a strength of mine that I enjoyed.
There is something about social media that I’m very drawn to. Many people feel that way now but on different levels, it has become a common line of work, which is interesting because when I started way back then, people barely understood it. They didn’t take it that seriously. I had the advantage of understanding something and having experience with it. All of that helped me and that is part of the privilege. Sometimes having an advantage because you happen to be interested in something is a privilege. That is a lot of luck. I was lucky to have stumbled into social media.
I also had the privilege of understanding technology when I was little. I have the privilege of the way my brain works, as I have talked about in my exploration of neurodivergence. The way my brain is structured or wired for whatever reason, I understood technology in a way I noticed at a young age that other people didn’t. Yet, I had this big creative draw. I didn’t even lean into the technology side of it for so long because I wanted to do creative work. I wanted to be an actress for a while. I wanted to be a film director, writer, producer and editor. I worked in that realm for a long time.
I transitioned into social media and all of the marketing work I was doing was on the side again because it was a skill but not a passion. That is interesting because that is going to loop into this talk. My aim here, as always, is to share with transparency to share with people who like to read stuff like that. I’m laughing because it is such a surreal experience to talk for an hour. It feels simultaneous in my ego and all about me but I have this deep desire to make it about you too. What is the point if this isn’t about you as well or at least gives you something? I don’t see this as entertainment. My hope is maybe you are reflecting on the things that you are naturally good at and gifted in, the skills that you have that maybe you don’t recognize as skills.
Many of us have something of value to offer people. I won’t say all because I suppose it is possible that somebody out there has nothing to offer others, although that sounds sad. I’m not a big fan of the word all because how could we ever know if everybody experiences the same thing? If your brain is wired a certain way, there is a privilege if you were raised with things that other people didn’t have, even if they weren’t expensive things like monetary things. You could have been raised with a great work ethic and loving parents.There is a privilege if your brain is wired a certain way. There is a privilege if you are raised with things other people don't have. Click To Tweet
I can’t remember if I mentioned this in an episode. A little while back, I saw this profound point in a TikTok video saying that loving, supportive parents are a privilege because not everybody has that. It is not always about money being a privilege, your background or whatever external privileges we might have. Sometimes love in itself is a privilege. Having a safe and supportive space, whatever that looks like is a big privilege that I had in a lot of ways.
There were some emotional struggles that I have experienced and some traumas developed from some of the ways that I was raised. That is a whole other story that I’m not into now. I had parents that believed and rooted for me. My parents paid for my college education. My parents leaned into the creative things I wanted to do along with me, which I recognized back then was a privilege because I would hear people say, “I want to pursue something creatively but my parents won’t let me. They won’t let me study that in college. They want me to go whatever cliché, like a doctor or something.” A lot of parents seem motivated to encourage their kids to do things for financial benefit.
That in itself is interesting. That ties into this topic of how we maneuver life. Finances are big. I get excited about finances. Maybe the advantage that I had of my parents talking a lot about money with me is they encouraged me to make my own money from a young age and maybe that fed into the excitement I would get every time I could make money. I had started to develop that as a skill, like being creative in terms of money making. Yet, I struggle a lot in my life and probably have for a while but I’m acutely aware that I don’t just like doing things for money.
I mentioned seeing a lot of videos about like the culture of money and people financially struggling. It also seems like, because of that struggle, people are becoming creative about ways to make money. A lot of talk about side hustles, getting certain levels of jobs, how to work from home and make XYZ. There are talks about things like User-Generated Content or UGC, which is interesting for me having a content creator background. The difference is for most of this time of social media, it has been about the person, the influencer is the most common term.
It is somebody talented in whatever way, whether it is being on camera talking, performing or recording cool videos. You don’t even have to see someone’s face but maybe they have a good style with camera or editing style and their storytelling abilities. There is this trend of using especially the ladder skills to create this user-generated content and sell that to brands. It is not about the influencer and personality. It is about the content.
Social Media In This Capitalistic World
I have a lot of mixed feelings about that, which I’m going to try to put into words. It’s one of the big reasons that I stepped away from producing my social media content regularly. If you haven’t noticed, I barely do social media posts. I ironically am spending most of my time advising other people on their social media. Sometimes I think, “Is that out of alignment?” I feel like people probably expect me to be doing all this social but maybe they don’t realize that is what I used to do. I got burnt out on that. It was draining.
One of the things that drained me was the financial side of it, that hustle. It was crippling for me in some ways. Almost the burnout become immense that I felt unable to do it. It has been years since I felt that way. It is coming up three years in 2022 because I remember how intense I felt at the beginning of 2020 before the pandemic started.
I remember being in my bathroom for some reason. I was trying to create some content. There was one brand deal I was doing back then. It was makeup or body care related. I felt it was posing with makeup and body care. I’m like, “This isn’t me.” I tried to make that me for many years previous to that because that was the big style for so long on YouTube and Instagram. It was these perfect photos of smiling, holding up the product next to you and editing everything to look bright, happy and all that stuff. It drew people in for a long time. I don’t think that works anymore. People start to see through that. They don’t see that as authentic anymore.
I want to be authentic. Those are part of my core values. It didn’t feel right. I felt all this pressure. I’m like, “That is what the brand wanted me to do and that is what the social media algorithms seemed to be favoring. It was like, “Put on this façade.” If you have heard me talk about exploring neurodivergence and learning about masking, I felt like I was wearing a mask with that body care campaign in 2020. I feel like I’m pretending to be someone who is not me and that I’m putting on a show. I’m performing, which might be okay if everybody knew that my career was a performance but that went against my core values. To me, content creation was about being myself, making a career out of whom I was and not pretending to be someone else. That has become so much of the standard.
As I was stepping back, letting go of Eco-Vegan Gal, which was my brand for many years, I’m observing how it feels to walk away from that. How did it feel to not be known as Eco-Vegan Gal? How would it feel to pause on all these social media platforms where I had tens of thousands of followers? Some people were perplexed about why I was doing that. There was this empowerment and walking away from something like that because I was walking away to honor my values and I was also acknowledging how deeply burnt out I was and trying to understand the root of the burnout has been several years of trying to understand this.
I remember thinking about this a lot in January 2020. We are almost in January 2023. These last several years went by very fast. Everybody says that about time. It was knowing that milestone for me. To go back to the user-generated content step, there is a lot of financial benefit going on there and this rubs me the wrong way but I see why people are into it. The creators are into user-generated content because they see it as easy money or a way to make money from their skills and talents, which is great. It sounds awesome.
If you are a talented photographer and videographer, it is awesome. You are creating content. That has been a trade for a long time and now it is much more accessible. You, the reader, at this moment, if you could teach yourself, you don’t even have to be naturally skilled or have any background. It is accessible and that equipment is accessible because most of us have a phone. Most phones in 2022 have a high-quality camera and microphone. There is inexpensive software. Even though the prices of software have gone up and they are going to continue to, it is still accessible.
I promise I wasn’t going to say, “All, everyone and anybody.” Even the word literal feels a little too much. Let’s use most. Most people could start doing user-generated content. That is why we have seen such a boom. People are interested in working from home and side hustle. People want to make money and brands are willing to pay almost anyone who knows how to operate the camera in a certain way, use the right videos, willingness to learn and do things quickly. You can get paid handsomely for this.
Where it is starting to run me the wrong way is that if both sides are driven by the money, people are doing that work to make money and the brands are hiring people to do that work so that they can make more money. It is that capitalistic world that we have entered into with social media, where much of it is to sell you something. The shift I felt in 2022 has felt eerie to me. This is something I was starting to sense in 2020 when I was feeling weird about all the performances I was doing because I was getting paid by a brand sponsor. I’m trying to manipulate the audience in a way. Let me take the right photo that compels you to read the caption. Let me craft the whole social media caption so that compels you to click on my link. The brand can make more money and I can make more money.
Let me do that in a way to pretend that I’m not doing this for the money. Let me do this in a way that I worked hard all over those years to only collaborate with brand sponsors that I believed in and used their products. There were certainly times when brands sent me stuff that I had never used. I would try it out for a few days and say, “This sounds cool. I will promote this.” That was still in alignment with my values but I felt uncomfortable. It was that shilling mindset.
The capitalism taking over of social media has been happening right in front of our eyes, even TikTok, the platform that I love more than any other platform, every probably fifth video I watched is either a literal ad that says, “Ad in the bottom.” The brand paid for it and had to do the disclosure that it is an ad or it is an influencer who got paid by that brand doing a sponsorship video or somebody who wants to be an influencer working their way up and talking about brands that they love. They are hoping to go viral, get free products and maybe get paid for things or somebody doing a performance because they want to go viral for their personality.
All of it has this capitalistic energy behind it that my beloved TikTok platform is going the way of all of the other social media platforms I have before and most of what I’m seeing on there is an ad. The more you engage with the algorithm, the more you are going to see certain things. I like the roundup video of people talking about a bunch of different products in a video.
It excites me because part of me thinks these products are all going to solve a problem for me. Part of me likes the thrill of going on a platform like Amazon, which I don’t even feel fully in alignment with value-wise. I still shop on Amazon because it is convenient. I can find low-cost things, get them shipped to me, have the whole dopamine rush of waiting for something to come in the mail, receive the product and feel a drop in happiness because the things finally arrived and it is no longer as exciting as it used to be and the cycle continues.
I go back to TikTok. I’m bored. I’m looking for entertainment and a dopamine hit. I see another one of those videos and maybe I will buy something. I’m aware of all this and still participating in it. Brands still reach out to me, even though I barely do social and they want to send me products for free. There is a little part of me that goes, “This is exciting. I’m getting stuff for free. I’m getting more stuff in the mail. This brand values me.” I realize they are looking for me to either sell to my audience as an “influencer” or do the user-generated content. They can use it to make more money and keep other people trapped in the same loops.
There is nothing wrong with this. It just doesn’t feel good to me. It is unsettling. I feel a little bit differently about the show. I have had sponsors, Zencastr, the platform that I use for this show. It is an easy sponsor because it is fully in alignment with my values. I use Zencastr at least three times a week. It has made my life great. This is not a sponsored episode but I can genuinely talk about Zencastr all the time. I do it online and offline.
Athletic Greens is a sponsor. Their products are cool and that was fully in alignment with me. I’m trying not to be hypocritical because I do have sponsors on the show occasionally but it is not a huge part of my financial income and I don’t want it to be for all these reasons that I have mentioned. There is nothing wrong with making content to make money but it has changed the dynamic so much. It saddens me because of the love of social media I have had for a long time, the love I have for technology and connecting with people.There's nothing wrong with making content to make money, but it has changed the dynamic so much. Click To Tweet
That made some things tricky for me. In social media, I have this challenging relationship. Since I don’t feel great about doing sponsored posts anymore, it has given me a lot of pauses because I’m thinking, “What is social media for someone like me who used to be this content creator/influencer?” In the last several years, it was breaking away from that world. That was my path for so long. I wanted to become an influencer. I wanted bigger, get brand deals, be on television shows and whatever else. I wanted fame, status, money and values. I don’t know if my values have changed. They were always there and hidden or masked. If I started to wake up to like, “This capitalism thing doesn’t feel great. I don’t know if I want to be part of this.”
Performing On Social Media
With those feelings there, social media has felt tough. If you don’t promote brands and you are not hawking products and services on social media, you can still participate. Plenty of people use social media to connect with friends and family. I don’t even do that. I feel like even that is a performance. I barely use Facebook. Facebook is mostly for me for DMing certain people whom I don’t have a relationship with them to text message them or I don’t even have their number.
I will occasionally DM random people on Facebook. People in my life that I have known and maybe they are acquaintances or family members I’m not frequently in touch with, Facebook is nice for that. Facebook is nice for Facebook groups too. It is awesome. Also, Facebook marketplace. I don’t even know what to post on my personal Facebook anymore. It feels deeply uncomfortable because of what is there to say.
When I stepped away from this performance, I realized how much I was posting on even my personal Facebook account that felt like a performance. It was like, “Look at me. Look what I did.” I could go and post my show. I have been doing this for several years. I’m proud but that is a look-at-me post. I don’t even want to broadcast my show and my Facebook. It makes me cringe a little bit. When I joined Facebook many years ago, it was friends from college, high school, family members and friends. I don’t know how much of this part of my life I want them to see, which is interesting because does that say I’m out of alignment? If I am trying to hide or mask, am I masking?
What I’m masking on is the question too because I don’t feel like I’m masking and performing at this moment. I feel like I’m talking to you like a friend. That is my aim with these episodes. Does that mean those Facebook people aren’t friends? Even the word friend shifted because of Facebook, maybe that is part of the issue here.
In social media marketing, a common practice is to understand your target audience and your demographic. This is one of the first stages of any marketing in general for a business and personality. It is like, “Whom are you talking to?” Somebody asked me this. I was recording a guest episode for the show. Before we started recording, they asked who the audience was. I said, “I don’t know who the audience is.” One actual nice element of the show is it doesn’t have the same type of analytic data as social media platforms do.
A lot of digital marketing platforms tell you all sorts of things. I’m sure you hear a lot about data and people collecting your data. When you go on Facebook and fill out your profile, with your name, gender, birthday and location, that is data that, on some platforms, if not most platforms, can be passed on and sold. It is transparent to people like me.
If you interact with my page on Facebook, I could collect data on you. Some of it is a little bit more private and might not be about you specifically but it is showing me as a whole who are the people that engage with this page and the people that follow this account. People will use that data to target the demographic either that is engaging the most or the people that they want to reach the most so that they can get something from them.
That is why I’m drawn to podcasting because I don’t have that information. For the most part, it is set up that way. It is going in that direction. That would be interesting. I know where people are from. That is one thing that is easy to find out. I can see where the majority of people who read this episode live. I can’t remember if I can see cities or not. To me, that doesn’t help. It is more interesting to know gender and age.
This guest asked me about this and I was sitting here thinking, “I don’t know that data. I don’t need to.” The only time it seems to matter is if you use the manipulation tactic. It is like, “If I know who you are, I know how to speak to you.” That sounds like a connection. Maybe it is but mostly, in the marketing world, it is not about connecting. It is about performing in a sense. “Now that I know who you are, I can show up in a certain way to get what I want from you.”For most in the marketing world, it's not about connecting; it's about performing. Click To Tweet
This is part of this out-loud processing I was mentioning. Saying that out loud gives me so much clarity and helps me understand why podcasting is relatively easy. I can do 407 episodes and talk for an hour. I’m processing out loud. I’m sharing things I’m passionate about. I’m learning all of this. It is not a performance or targeting a certain person.
It also gives me clarity because a goal of mine has been to put out a survey or do some outreach to understand better people like you, who is reader based for this show. I’m not able to get it from a data analytics standpoint. You would have to send that to me. I would have to collect it from several people, do an analysis and say, “The average person that responded falls into these categories.”
Part of me is unsure if I want to do that because now that I’m verbalizing and processing out loud that I don’t need that, maybe I don’t even want that. Maybe it is helpful for me not to know. Maybe that keeps me away from the performance because as an individual, I have a tendency to perform as part of my masking, as a people pleaser, feeling like if I give you what you want, you will stay. That is why I got burnt out with social media because I felt a deep sense of rejection when people would unfollow me and write mean comments that hurt badly. I spent years trying to figure it out and build a thick skin so that it wouldn’t bother me.
I started focusing on content creation in 2008 and took it seriously until sometime in 2020. Twelve years of trying to build a thick skin and I never got there. I didn’t understand why. I still have some figuring out to do but at this moment, it makes sense because I was trying to manipulate people in a way to get them to like me. That is so much of social media like, “Give me that thumbs up. Engage with my content. Show me that you care. Communicate with me.” That is addictive.
Loss Of Perspective
I even felt this on TikTok. Occasionally I post TikTok videos and TikTok is part of my self-discovery with social media because I’m trying to post things that have nothing to do with building a career. My last bunch of videos are all nature related. I have one cool hummingbird that was my most recent post as of the time of this episode. You go on there. That has been a theme. I love nature, animals and those little small sweet moments of life that don’t eat a lot of editing.
Those videos don’t get much engagement and that is okay. To me, that is almost therapeutic. It is okay if only 300 people see a video I put up. First of all, 300 people are a lot of people. On social media standards, people see that as a failure. That is the other side of social media that bothers me. The capitalistic side but also this loss of perspective that, as a whole, people that are active on social media are concerned with social media don’t value hundreds of people. That is not enough. They want thousands and millions to feel validated, important and successful to have status. In my stomach, that is like a knock.
Part of the burnout too is that I started to feel so used. Maybe this is why the user-generated content is in two different meanings. Even the word “use” is in user-generated content. There is that using element of people using you to get something. It makes me nauseous. For years, I felt used by people who were only giving me attention, giving me free things and paying me because they saw value in my numbers. This went on for almost my entire career.
In the beginning, I was like, “This is part of the deal. This is how social media works. People care.” I was playing the whole game of building up my numbers, trying to get to certain levels and all the stuff. I was caught up in that world of taking people seriously because of their numbers. I was like, “This person has one million followers. I need to spend more time with them. I want to be their friend, learn from them, hear them talk and take their courses.” I was so in that world.
It started to feel vapid and when it got turned on me, people would say things to me, “You have many followers.” People would refer to me as Eco-Vegan Gal. Over time, that destroyed me because they were seeing me as two different people. They weren’t seeing me for Whitney. They were seeing me as my account name, as my avatar. They were seeing the performer.
A lot of people talk about certain celebrities. I saw people talking about Marilyn Monroe and how used she was in disgusting ways as a woman objectifying her and the things that she went through in her career. I hear this all the time about Britney Spears and all the concerns around her. I re-watched the Elvis movie. The whole movie is about his career and how he might have been manipulated and used. That is commonplace to value somebody based on how much money they can make you or how much success you can get from standing beside them and how much validation you can get from being around somebody attractive or successful. That wore away at me so much over time.
Going back to TikTok, my point before I got into this little rant is that the whole TikTok world is like any other social media platform. It is becoming more so where you can leave a comment on a video and get tons of likes on it. That can give you a sense of validation. I experience this all the time. This happened to me. For some reason, one of my TikTok comments went “viral.” The last I checked, 3,000 people liked it within a short span of hours. To me, that is viral, whatever your definition of viral is.
There was a high from that. I was like, “I must have said something that hit with people that maybe put people like me.” It is not people like me. They liked that comment. They liked what I said but there was like this false sense of like, “Maybe if I do more of that. I may get more likes.” Those likes feel good but they also feel annoying. Every time I go on TikTok to view videos, I have all these notifications and I’m like, “Can you stop liking? This is too much. I’m done. I got my high.” Isn’t that in itself weird? It has that opposite effect where we start to perceive other people as annoying and I’m saying we, I’m generalizing. I was experiencing annoyance because too many people were liking something that I did. “I have gotten my fill. Thank you very much. I’m done.”
That has happened to me many times on TikTok. I have had some comments receive hundreds of thousands of likes. I get that high. I have felt special, important, smart and not savvy but like, “Something I did was acknowledged.” I felt seen and heard. I felt like other people could relate. This happens a lot on TikTok.
I posted some other little comment on somebody’s video and maybe 50 people liked it but every time I opened up the app, there was another like. The validation I was getting on that comment made me feel good. I felt like these people must be liking my comment because they feel the same way and I’m seeing that I’m not alone.
Social media serves the purpose of feeling seen and heard and other people are like us. That can feel good. Sometimes it is the opposite. I’m posting something that is unusual and people are liking it because they are envying me. I’m posting something to show off like I was saying the performative, “Look how great I am and look at what I accomplished,” type of stuff. That is where I felt stuck with social media because I didn’t want to do those things. That is why I have been experimenting with TikTok.
I’m posting these nature videos because I love them but it is a weird feeling because there is part of me that is still attached to the validation and feeling a sense of emptiness when they get “just” 300 views, 10 likes and a couple of comments from people. I’m laughing because if that was in the real world and I did a performance and 300 people showed up, that would be amazing. If 50 people were cheering like crazy for me after that performance, that would be a win. After that performance, if 5 or 10 people came up to me and told me how much they liked the performance, I would feel on top of the world. Social media skewed so much of that to feel like that’s not enough.
Pressure From Expectations
Where do I go from here? That is part of the question that I was trying to get to the root of because I feel this pressure to post on social media and then I wonder, “What if that pressure is not real? What if that pressure is the lingering side effect of leaving behind something that I did for so long? What if that pressure is not telling me to go back to social media?”
That reminds me of something that came up in a coaching session I did with one of my clients who is talking about how they are struggling with doing things that they think people want them to do. The expectations and the fear of taking care of themselves and how the self-care conflicts with what other people want of them. I can relate to that because there are a lot of assumptions that we make about what other people want and expect of us.
There is a lot of pressure on social media. That is a huge part of our societal culture for many of us. Part of our lives is to share ourselves. We have become accustomed to not having privacy and people knowing everything about us and everything that we do. Over the last several years, I found a sense of satisfaction in being more private. There are certain things I never talk about on this show about my private life.
For most of my personal life, I don’t share. There are things that you don’t know about me because I don’t talk about them. They are boundaries for me. I was thinking about that. I’m like, “Is it weird that I don’t talk about some of these big things in my life? I feel like I’m hiding them from you.” No, it is a boundary for me. I want to keep those things private. Some of those things most people in my life don’t know about unless they are close friends. They have no idea.
Part of me was like, “I feel a little mysterious in this time where most people share every part of their lives.” I’m doing the opposite. I’m not sharing every part of my life. I’m not hiding it. I’m choosing not to share it. That in itself is unusual. I also have a feeling that more people are going to do that and more people are leaving social media as a whole.
That is another draw of an episode because podcasts have a special place in people’s lives. People turn to them for education, entertainment and maybe intimacy connection. My aim here is mostly to connect with you and the educational side, especially with my guests. In the beginning stages of social media, I was excited to educate people on sustainability and plant-based eating. Those two things were not that big back in 2008 and 2009. There weren’t a lot of people talking about those things. It was thrilling because I was adding something to the world that was lacking or connecting with people that were into the same thing.
The connections I made were immense friendships, relationships and business partnerships. All sorts of things came out of that. That it is commonplace. The novelty is worn off for me but it also doesn’t feel as valuable as this show. It feels to me like blogging felt in 2008 when I was doing that. I hope that this remains for a while because I feel nourished by it. Maybe it is the novelty. I don’t know.
Getting In Touch And Providing Value
Even newsletters are something that I felt a lot of pressure on. I paused my newsletters for Wellevatr around the same time as I paused social. It was in the summer of 2022. It was when I started traveling a lot. It was too much for me to travel and try to manage the social and the newsletters. I also felt like, do people even care? For so long with newsletters, I felt all this pressure to do email marketing. It was like, “You have to have a newsletter list because what if social media crumbles? How are you going to stay in touch with people?” That was the big mantra that I would say too. You will find me saying that in the past. It was like, “You got to stay in touch.”
I started doing shady things that I don’t align with. I was using emails to market to people to sell products and services to make money and I was like, “This doesn’t feel good.” That is a very clear thing to me that I don’t want to sell. It is ironic because I help other people sell. I’m too removed. I like helping other people sell, as long as I am aligned with what they are selling but I don’t want to be in sales directly. I don’t want to sell other people’s products from my account unless they are Athletic Greens. I’m cool. They are helping the show. That is how I look at stuff like that. If it is a good product, I’m happy to talk about it on this show.
I got sent a Moon Pod. It is a cool beanbag chair that I have been interested in for a long time. They were like, “We love to send you one to talk about it on your show.” They are not paying me money. We have an affiliate relationship, which means if you buy a Moon Pod and you use my link in my show notes, I will make a commission from it. That is nice. That is not a big deal to me. I’m not dependent on it but I’m excited about their products. I can easily talk about it.
That is different but I still need to check myself on the way that I talk about things. When I was doing all my ads for Athletic Greens and Zencastr, I was like, “How can I record these ads that are genuine, enthusiastic and not a performance?” I sometimes have to stop myself from performing. I’m sure some of those ads came across like a performance. That is hard to get out of that. It is hard to step away from the performance and that is where I’m at too.
I’m curious. After all of this, if you resonate with this, what is your relationship with social media? I was talking about newsletters for a while and I left that. I’m also curious how you feel about emails because part of me feels like maybe sending you emails again would be nice. Maybe people like getting newsletters but how could I do them in a way that is not a performance and a sales pitch? I don’t know. Do people want reminders of what episodes come out? That is what I used to do but it felt like people didn’t care. I’m like, “I’m spending all this time doing something that I don’t want to do and other people don’t seem to care about it. Why am I doing this?” That is a lot of the feeling I started to get, mostly with the Wellevatr promotions on social media.
The only people who seemed to care about me doing social media were the guests on the show and I feel a core alignment. When I go back to social media for this show, I want to make it about the guests because I value the guests that come on the show so much. It is that mentality of shifting of like, “Why are we doing something? Where is the value?” That is the big question.
If I can go beyond the performance in getting validation, that is where I’m trying to shift to because I want to give value to you and the guests of the show by promoting their episode. I’m like, “Is it valuable to the guests? Are they dependent on the validation? What happens when I promote on social media and it gets five likes? Do they feel disappointed? Is that a disservice to them? Am I adding disappointment to their life? Am I doing it to please them? Do they even want that?” That is part of where I get stuck. We are going through the motions of this per whole performance. For what reason?
The newsletter I feel a tug towards. There is got to be a way that there is value there. The value could be the reminder. Some people want to be reminded to read a blog that they enjoy. I’m seeking out something deeper there with the newsletter and social media that I haven’t hit on. I thought about writing letters and I might experiment with that because the newsletters I like to receive feel informative.
Writing, in general, drains me a lot, especially when it comes to informative stuff. The reason that is hard and draining for me is that when I try to do something educational, my brain needs every ounce of energy and I feel sucked dry by it. If I’m going to write something, it will take me an hour at least to write a newsletter. I get into that numbers thing. All of this takes so much. I could sit here for an hour easily and do a show. That is not draining but writing is much. I thought, “What if I sat down and verbally wrote it?” The amazing thing I have and a huge privilege for this show is the team that edits the show and does the show notes.
If you go to Wellevatr.com, there are show notes for every single episode that are written like a blog post. They take the transcript and it feels Meta because somebody is reading this blog, taking the transcript of what I’m saying and this moment and turning this into a blog post for you or anyone on the internet to find. That is awesome. I guessed there is a way that I could take that and put it into a newsletter but I’m concerned that it is a performance in itself.
Do I start speaking in a certain way that will sound good in a newsletter? This is why it feels frustrating. A lot of people are going to read this and think, “Don’t do it.” That is the trick. This is why I’m curious about how you feel. It is a little bit of a Catch-22, where we are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It is not as easy as not doing something because of the societal pressure and the ripple effect that it has.
When I think about Facebook, I have a lot of friends and family on Facebook. That is their platform. They don’t use TikTok. They probably use Facebook and/or Instagram. They have an expectation in their head. The expectation is the wrong word but they have verbalized it to me. This is why I think this. They wish I posted on social media, mostly Facebook and Instagram because they want to know what is going on in my life. Sometimes I feel resentful of that. I’m like, “I rather tell you one-on-one because I don’t feel comfortable posting now.”
I’m recording a video alongside this episode. I would be embarrassed if somebody that I knew saw this video that wasn’t already a regular reader of my show. My hair is up in a messy bun with my gray hairs and hasn’t been combed. It looks like it is not clean, although it is. My hair has natural greasiness. I feel self-conscious about that. I was wearing a casual shirt and didn’t do anything to my face. It feels uncomfortable for me to show up this way on social media but that feels uncomfortable because I’m used to wearing a mask on social media. I’m afraid to show up as my unmasked self on social media because I’m afraid of being judged. I feel like there is a standard by which people show up that is not this.
Plenty of people show up as themselves. Plenty of people, women, men and non-binary, regardless of gender and age show up and are unconcerned. People love them anyways. That is what I want but I’m not quite there yet. Maybe that is where all this resistance comes from. No amount of verbal assurance from other people helps. Part of this all is when I say it is not that easy.
Sometimes I record episodes. People that are close to me will message me. They will have little answers or whatever like, “You are doing great. I like you no matter what you look like.” Here I go with anyone again. Most people can relate to the fact that if you don’t like something about yourself, no amount of external validation is going to change that.If you don't like something about yourself, no amount of external validation is going to change that. Click To Tweet
If you feel confused, upset, lost and stuck, a shift has to come from within. That can take a long time. Maybe that is the answer I have been seeking by doing this episode. These several years are all adding up to something that is going to take even longer for me to come to terms with. Burnout is not even quite the right word for what I felt in terms of social media, newsletters and being an online content creator.
It is so complex. It is being revealed to me and other people who have these similar feelings over time. It is not a quick fix, an easy answer or something that other people can help us figure out or maybe they can but it is a collective figuring out. It is not like, “Here is the answer. I’m good.” Yet, I know that I yearn for an easy answer. I yearn for someone to snap their fingers and say, “Here you go.” Suddenly, I’m transformed. Flip the switch and I’m good to go. That is not the way it is and that is okay.
The great news is all of this is okay and all of this social media stuff, I can tell you from being immersed in that world, even behind the scenes, is constantly changing. Nobody has it figured out because it changes so much. People tend to cling to things that have already changed or they cling on to things that have changed for others.
For me, it is Facebook. I have a different relationship with Facebook that it is barely there but back in the day, Facebook was the be-all, end-all. Instagram was the be-all, end-all. That is all changed for me but that doesn’t mean it is changed for others. Part of what makes this tough is when you change but you feel like other people haven’t changed, what do you do? It is hard to show up in the world when other people are showing up in ways that no longer serve you in places that you no longer want to visit. It is confusing.It's hard to show up in the world when other people are showing up in ways that no longer serve you, in places you no longer want to visit. Click To Tweet
At the beginning of this episode, I’m looking for that simple answer but I feel a sense of relief. It was like, “My feelings are valid because this is not simple. This is complex and that is why I don’t have a clear answer because it is complex.” That is a metaphor for a lot of things in life. I’m going to leave it at that. I’m going to go for a walk.
Journaling Thoughts And Ideas
One thing I have been working on behind the scenes is a journal. I was thinking that my weekly episodes here might be more journaling of thoughts, ideas and resources. If I do kick off a newsletter again, that is my version of information, like here are things I have been doing and not from a salesy standpoint. I have content in mind for the Moon Pod, for example.
It is like a vlog style of walking through things I have been doing and trying but not for performance and not to sell you on it. If you happen to buy something, cool but what if I can approach things from the standpoint of this is my life? Even that feels a little cringy. Maybe for another episode, it’s like, “How is that even valuable?” Everybody is talking about their lives to one another but that is at the core of social media. Wasn’t that what social media was designed for? It is to share and for it all to be valid and have value regardless of how many people care.
If you can strip away the need for the masses to care, maybe that is where we can return. I’m going to ponder that while I take my walk. Thank you for reading and being part of this. As I started to mention, I love to hear your thoughts on all this. There was a lot. I’m curious if you have anything else you would like to add, comment on and share with me.
I’m not looking for answers from you but I’m curious about how you view it. You can send that to me through social media. I feel overwhelmed by responding to people. I ask for people to reach out from this show and yet, whenever I get a message, I get so overwhelmed about responding. I can’t explain it but the pressure I feel to respond is immense. It is like I said, “Writing, in general, is hard.”
One thing I have practiced at this moment I’m reminding myself of is the Instagram tool to send an audio message. That feels much easier. I will start doing that more. If you want an audio message, a private one from me, send me an Instagram DM to my private account under @WhitLauritsen or @Wellevatr. You can also email me for the same reasons. It can take me a while. I read every message. If you want me to hear you, I hear you. If you want to respond, I ask for patience. It is a huge hurdle for me to respond because of how my brain works. That is a whole other obstacle for me to overcome. I truly value you if I haven’t conveyed that enough.
I love getting to know you and I know in this episode that is not what this has been. Getting the messages is the value for me. For those people who join the private community Beyond Measure, it is the greatest thing to be able to get to know you. I’m going to wrap things up. I will be back next time with a guest episode. Whom do we have? I’m going to look at my schedule. I say this about every guest. I haven’t even recorded with the guest who is scheduled for this next episode. I don’t know but they are going to be awesome. We will find out together. Until then, I wish you all the best in your life. That’s it. Bye.
- Eco-Vegan Gal
- Athletic Greens
- Hummingbird – TikTok
- Moon Pod
- @WhitLauritsen – Instagram
- @Wellevatr – Instagram
- Beyond Measure
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