That is the question. They are telling me that Social Networking is the key to growth and it is a free self-promotion resource. ‘They’ being the Marketing Consultants that have followed me on Twitter. They give me tips about how to grow my followers and increase my list.
It’s all new to me, but I can see it makes sense, and I really don’t want to spend money I don’t need to on advertising that may or may not work.
So, naively I create a Business Page on my existing Facebook account. Most days I don’t even bother to comb my hair as I am either digging on my allotment or painting skirting boards wearing husband’s work jeans. But thanks to Colin at Nirvana Hairdressing Company (real name used this time – happy to give a shout out) I look uncharacteristically well-groomed and have a reasonably decent photo to use.
Now I have completed the profile, Facebook is asking me to invite friends to follow my page.
I scroll down the list, and find myself ‘umming and aahing about this. One by one I imagine the reaction of all these people to my new title: Reconnective Healing Foundational Practitioner…
You see, most of my friends, correction ALL of my Facebook friends belong to the ‘old’ me – my previous identity as a professional. Most were colleagues I had taught alongside at the past three schools I worked at. Others of course go back a long way – to my ‘ministry’ days even – Christian friends. Did I want everyone to know I was doing this? In truth I rather feared their reactions. I can hear the raised eyebrows over cyberspace; sense their surprise, disapproval, judgement…
Maybe I can circumnavigate them?
You are laughing because YOU know how social media works. Remember, I don’t. Not at this point anyway.
I tick husband. He can know. Best friend for twenty years plus is allowed in. The colleague I had confided in and practised distance healing on – she’s OK. As I read some of the other names I shudder at the thought of their reaction. There’s one in particular, let’s call her Miss Dismissive. This person I would regard a work colleague rather than a friend. We never socialised outside work. We don’t really have that much in common, and to be honest I found her a bit of a challenge. She is loud and very vocal in her opinions. Furthermore she is particular dismissive, even derisive, regarding anything to do with spirituality or religion and tells us repeatedly she doesn’t believe in ‘any of that rubbish’. Miss Dismissive is blunt and speaks her mind, often unaware of the collateral damage this causes (you know the sort, right?). Needless to say I don’t tick her box. In the end I have about eight people who I think are sensitive and open-minded enough to accept my new vocational choice without judgement.
That still leaves about 90% of them left in the dark. I’m playing safe.
It’s not long before I get a notification. Tracy (one of my trusted friends) has seen and liked my RHFP page.
Good, I now have two likes. Husband and Tracy.
Soon the others follow, and each time I am notified. I feel a sense of satisfaction that I am in control and things are going to plan.
Then something unexpected happens.
I am notified of a new page like. It is from someone I used to work with; a friend of Tracy who has seen that she has liked my page. Woops – curve ball. But it’s not too bad. This person isn’t too much to worry about.
Then the penny drops. If this person know about my page (because of Tracy’s ‘like’), all of her other friends know, which is pretty much the entire staff of the previous school I worked at (Tracy is a popular lady). And now this new person’s entire list of friends knows. The circle widens. I guess that’s why it’s called a social network!
I decide the best way forward is to bite the bullet and go for it. After all, nine page likes is a pretty paltry show, and makes me look a bit sad, should someone randomly land on my page and scan the likes to rate me.
I take a deep breath and start typing. I write a confident and friendly message on my timeline addressing ‘all my dear Facebook Friends’. I explain that I am pursuing a long-held interest and have become a qualified RH practitioner. I thank the people who have already liked my page, and I make a point of saying I value this as a sign of their support for my choice ‘even though it may not be your thing’.
Then I press ‘post’.
It feels liberating. Like coming out.
Like I am unashamedly saying “This is me – the real me.”
Now there’s nothing more I can do.
I have tried to explain to you who I am; what I believe in, what I am now doing and why it’s important to me.
And if I’m totally honest, I would really, really like your approval. That would be nice. But if it doesn’t happen it’s OK.
It really is OK.
I shut the laptop lid. Get on with other things. Put the washing in the drier. Peel the spuds. Get lost in the busy banter of family life as we gather for our evening meal.
It must be three hours later when I am next online. I have a notification.
This is good. And significant. It must be the first response from the group I had deemed ‘unsafe’.
I touch the little globe icon showing the number one in red.
Yes, somebody likes my page – Jill Brennan: Reconnective Healing Foundational Practitioner.
And when I read the name I have to blink.
I really didn’t expect this.
My first ‘coming out in the open’ page like is from Miss Dismissive.
Maybe I’m the one with the lesson to learn: not to be so quick to judge.