I’ve been talking with a lot of different people lately. One of the things that I’ve been reflecting on is what we present to the world, and what’s going on behind the scenes to make that presentation work.
The world of social media means that we only ever see a snippet of someone’s life. I know some very open people who use their Twitter accounts to openly share a lot of what they experience. They do this as a way of being able to make sense of what they experience. It also opens them up to comments and opinions from people who may have good intentions, but communicate poorly. Others may have bad intentions and communicate poorly.
I know others who use their social networks to share their thinking about a range of topics. ‘Thinking out loud’ in these ways helps others to know that these people are trying to offer an opinion about the world they live in, and by virtue of it being open and social, inviting comment about the same.
I know many people who use social networks to share about the work they’re involved in. We tend not to see work in progress, and we tend to see end products. Where we see work in progress, there are those who appreciate the honesty, and the sharing attitude. It helps them identify that there is a development process, and there is value in sharing stages of work. Where we see finished products, what we can be blind to is the amount of work that was involved. In the open market place, anyone can offer an opinion, and there is a resilience we need to be open to that.
And there are variety of online communities that people feel connected to and invested in. I’m part of many, and they all offer me different things.
In all of that, we see only what is available to be seen.
What we don’t see is the angst, the hard work, the hours toiled, the rejected proposals, the lost time, the mixed emotions, the strained relationships, the personal hardships, the financial burdens, the care taken, the ambition driving, the desire for the work, and so much more.
And I wonder, how many of us are willing to read or know those things?
I have many private conversations with people on different platforms and in different ways, and I wonder, how acceptable would it be to share those discussions openly? When we discuss things behind the scenes, are we aware of the influence those discussions have to what we present openly?
It’s great to be open and sharing, but what happens when people want to share and be open about the hard times, the tough times, and the downright shit times?
Experience tells us, that when we do share these times, people can be generous with their time, with their compassion, and with their understanding. Not all people, but those who want to, will. I’ve read pieces about mental health issues, sexual abuse, racial abuse, gendered stereotyping, parental harm, and so many more. And every time I read them I want to reach out and provide that person with love, care and heart. They’ve shared something in an open way, and I can’t help but see the human side of what’s happening in the world.
Yet, at work, we’re not openly acceptant of these things. We may say we are, but we’re really not. If you work in a team, do they all want to hear about your woes, trials and tribulations? They might want to, if they feel that the person can be heard well and find support in their colleagues. They probably won’t want to if they feel that displaying your emotions at work is frowned on and detrimental to the work environment.
We all present a sheen. We allow specific things about ourselves to be seen, and are very particular about what happens behind the scenes.
How do we build the capacity for people to feel that they can share in ways that are meaningful and don’t alienate? How we do help people build resilience so that when they experience things behind the scenes, they are taking care of themselves? How do we create a stronger sense of support and compassion where the focus isn’t on advising someone what to do, but allowing them to be heard.
What’s happening behind the scenes for you?