Last week was another Media Free Week, and once again full of surprises.
Oftentimes, my week-long media fast is a chance to take a break from the news and information that takes up time I could spend doing other things. I miss watching videos, and some of the local buzz, but generally find ways to occupy myself.
THIS time, I was in a very different position. I was too busy to watch videos even if I had time, and I heard enough of the big news from my friends. No, this time what I really missed was swimming in the social media.
On a normal, non-fasting week, I am on Facebook and Twitter several times a day. I use HootSuite to make life a bit easier, and to track everyone’s comings and goings. Most of all, I can track the responses to my own posts, the likes, and retweets, and mentions.
I barely notice this on a normal week. But this Media Free Week, I had things going on that I wanted to share. I just had a great book event at Cloverhill Yarn Shop, my guest blog post for NAMAC was going live, and, most importantly, I was telling a story at the Stoop Storytelling’s O Little Town of Baltimore holiday show. Not just any story, but a truly embarrassing one from my early 20’s, that talked about race, art, class, and religion in just 5 minutes. I had been waiting 14 years to tell this story, and now I couldn’t even promote it.
The little 130 character lines were running through my head: “Ever throw a party where no one came? My Stoop Story, this Friday.”
I wanted so badly to spread the word, and shout it from the rafters. But this was my week of no media, including the social kind. As the week went on, I realized that I was craving some kind of feedback.
It’s a little like that Michael Scott line from the Office: “Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like this, compulsive, need, to be liked. Like my need to be praised.”
All I needed was some kind of positive feedback, like some page hits or a thumbs up. But nothing came, and I wouldn’t know if it had, because I was off-line.
And so, a week without sharing my ideas, actions, and emotions with the world became a week of self-reflection. I was able to completely prepare and focus on my storytelling, rather than my promotion of my storytelling. And I have to say I’m glad I did. It was a delicate story to tell, one that had to be funny in the right spots, and serious in the others. And because I wasn’t running around shouting, “look at me! Look at what I’m doing tonight!” I was given the time, space, and peace to practice and get it right.
The night of the show, I was nervous as all get out. But when my time came, and strode up to the mic, I knew exactly what to say. And the only people who knew about it were the audience and us storytellers on stage…and now, you.
My friend Jen Lee talks about how storytelling in public can be a private event. I’m not sure I really understood that until last week. Without the buzz of tweets and posts to dilute the message, I was able to share this special thing with a roomful of people, and when it was over, it was our little secret.