Is the backlash through newsletters? 🔥
|Nina Fern||Jul 23, 2019|
If you listen to the world there are certain rhythms that are predictable. Fall, learn, grow. Fall, learn, grow. If you do your part correctly, you’ll be sprinkled with magic. That’s the trick. You have to be 100 percent sincere with your intention, or you will not get the magic.
That’s the problem with social media.
I joined social media for my business. It was the last place I wanted to be. I attempted to get on the Facebook bandwagon before. Within hours, I heard from people best left in the rear view mirror and signed out. Instagram — I followed about thirty stores I liked. Twitter — aka ‘Speakers Corner.’ Nope, too much yelling.
I dove into the image-friendly Instagram with the rest of the cannabis start-ups.
BOOM: IT WAS AN IMMEDIATE REACTION
Swiping up, swiping right, tapping through, looking at stories, tags, DM’s, different colors, tones, vibes. My mild ADD kicked up big time. The echo chamber was exhausting and I began to get a little jumpy. As someone who practices Transcendental Meditation — this obliterated that work. In my past career, my eyes were on ten financial markets at a time and I thrived in the chaos. I knew right away social media was poison for my brain. It was five percent pleasure, ninety five percent pain, and I was resentful that it had to be a huge part of my life if I wanted a business. This was no place for a sensitive person like myself. I had anxiety for the first time in my life.
GO TOO FAR FROM NATURE AND YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR
The feed grew quickly and then the algorithm changed. No new followers. If I wanted my work shown, I had to post more often and use more features. I was stunned. Did a new rollout happen that made life more complicated for millions? I tried to imagine how this plan went down in the boardroom or nauseatingly by the ping-pong table.
It took me awhile to figure out ‘The Game.’ The hashtags, likes, follows, unfollows, comments. An empty, insensitive, dumbing down waste of time. ‘The Game’ was trying to tell me to behave in the exact opposite way of who I was in real life and how I raised my children.
Your worth is being judged by people liking you. You judging people by how they looked. There was the popular group that fed off insecurities and played the same useless story on repeat — always pushing something with their new ‘best friend.’ There was the corner with the incessant bullhorns reminding everyone of every negative thing happening. There were the rage addicted snoops, the skuzzy pick pockets ripping everyone off, and of course, groupthink, AKA the fake police. The machine gun holding, lowest level thinkers that actually rule the roost. No one was immune to them. The ruler of ‘The Game’ happened to be the one person on the planet with the absolute worst judgement. How did this punk become my boss?
The insensitivity of this thing was astounding. Ghosting, the latest rage in despicable behavior, was definitely learned here.
In real life, different conversations for different people at different times of day, no? There was no way not to offend someone.
The algorithm would continue to change and I was furious for small businesses everywhere. A new level of trickery would have to be schemed up for businesses to compete. I could sense a new way to waste my time about to bop around the feed like a volleyball. The poor businesses without the creative knack would come across outdated. How did everyone get on board with this? It was that ‘am I the crazy one?’ feeling. But I was a crazy one. I wasn’t on solid ground anymore. My mind was scattered and a mess.
Every fun, fresh idea I had was too complicated for my mind to execute. How would the same thing look in the feed, the stories, on their stories, on the website? Are we even doing this for people that see or care? I started picking up on whose feed had fake followers. I mean…seriously — why was I here?
SUMMER OF 2018
I took my first holiday since start-up life to Mallorca. On the first night, right before bed, I saw an accusation on Instagram about a woman I met in the cannabis space. I remembered her sharing how stretched thin she was from start-up life. I turned the phone off right away. I knew I couldn’t dive into it right before bed. By the time I woke up she was annihilated by groupthink. Done in less than 24 hours. It was an over the top, cruel punishment and I was worried for her welfare. Witnessing it and doing nothing changed me. Did I mention when I go against my intuition I get a stab of chronic pain right in the neck? I was being stabbed left, right, and center as I was posting my beautiful Mallorca photos. It was the first time I felt shame since my teens.
I started looking at my phone constantly. I was afraid if I turned it off all hell could break loose on my feed. It was like leaving your store unattended for looters. I became that person, always on the phone. Ew.
Every time I posted something, it was like being on a stage. The other last place I’d like to be. My following continued to grow which made me nervous instead of feeling like an accomplishment. Suddenly I was surrounded by people I knew had very different views from my own and it hit my weak spot. I worried about everything I was saying — and I had something to say. I was turning into a self-imploding volcano again. The anticipation of chronic pain was painful. I began experiencing paranoia for the first time.
Seriously, why should we all be connected? In the big sense, yes. In the everyday? I vote no.
FALL OF 2018
The stabs in the neck were talking to me and I heard it loud and clear. I was the actual idiot. I put my mental health at risk. I was building a business on a platform that could take me down in a second for no reason. If this did succeed, groupthink would spot me eventually. I knew I couldn’t handle that. A rumor about me living on Google forever I couldn’t even fathom. It would ruin my reputation, dating life, future employment, and affect my family. I wasn’t afraid of death but I was afraid of groupthink. Even death didn’t seem as permanent. I started thinking of the rising suicide rate and was becoming angry. Another feeling I rarely have, that was now familiar.
Everything I looked at in real life and online that was dysfunctional — which was everything — linked back to social media.
People were ill and we were kicking them instead of helping them. Especially our youth. How did we let this happen? This was opioids, gluten, and sugar wrapped into one. Guilt for being a part of it was getting heavy.
What would happen to me if I couldn’t play the game? Would I ever get a paycheck? I took pride in my logical brain and it was turning on me. For the first time in my life God and faith just slipped my mind. God is linked to genuineness, and I was half in the conversation, busy scrolling through Instagram instead. I felt it needed watching for things to work out. And there it was. My whole life I knew ‘it’ would work out. Whatever ‘it’ was. It was the first time in my life I became negative and I forgot how the universe worked — the one thing I actually know. I was stuck in a video game as a mentally fatigued Ms Pac Man.
I was in semi-nervous breakdown mode. Luckily I had some serious cannabis that kept it at ‘semi.’
I smoked more than I ever did - by far. I needed calm on a regular day and now I was desperate. I’m so grateful for cannabis, there are no words. It guaranteed an off switch to the day. It guaranteed I would fall asleep to happy thoughts and take a break from these warped patterns of thought. It would help me get into my feet and out of my shoulders. I remembered who I was when I was high, but it didn’t change my situation. It revealed it even more starkly. I felt unsafe, uncomfortable, and scared for the first time since my teens. I reminded myself how lucky I was to know this anxiety was caused by social media, having lived without it (both the anxiety and social media). I worried for the kids who didn’t know the difference. How did their brains even work? It explained a lot about my interactions with millennials.
A GLIMPSE OF MAGIC
I was dark and unhappy. I suspected it was the first signs of depression, something else I never experienced. Addicted to my phone, I was walking and scrolling on my way to the train when a beautiful photo popped up in my feed and stopped me in my tracks. I admired this photographer. He was meticulous. It was a one of a kind nature shot and I needed nature desperately. No hashtags and no agenda. Just a human act of extreme thoughtfulness. It felt like a present in the middle of the mental abuse surrounding this photo. For the first time, I looked at a photo and I cried. It gave me hope my brain could recalibrate one day and I could feel those feelings more regularly again. It was a digital hug I didn’t realize existed.
That feeling coming from social media wasn’t lost on me. It came with stillness, calm, and power. I felt magic in this thing for the first time. I didn’t hear the message. But I knew there was one. I was somehow on the right path.
I took a few cues from that photo and adjusted my own Instagram vibe thinking of the good feelings I wanted my following to have.
EVOLVE OR DIE
I re-rooted myself and went back to work the only way I knew how; connected to God and faith. My confidence came back not in what would happen, but the part I played and how I played it. Just be genuine to myself and how I rolled. I did this in finance, and it worked like a charm every single second of every single day. I was on a mission to evolve and make peace with this mad machine. I had tons of digital hugs to hand out. It’s what cannabis culture is all about. ☺️
THE SHIFT IN BEHAVIOR
I treated the platform like I did real people in real life. Guess what? I don’t enjoy most people. I’m an introvert. But I do love deeply when I do, and I do love the world. All the people, good and bad. So I politely avoided people on Instagram instead of interacting, keeping with the people I met organically. I ignored the new rollouts that meant more work. Posted when I posted, forgetting about times and analytics. I started taking breaks, which helped the most, and took my power back. This was in Gods hands, not Zuck’s. If groupthink annihilated me, I guess it’s how the story goes. I wasn’t bowing down to a punk any longer. I made sure to post about the poisons of social media on the platform. My following grew, and I interacted in DM without fanfare. I was halfway out of the vortex by changing my mindset and taking breaks. But what about the other people?
I was getting over it. I was happy, but not happy-go-lucky the way I was before social media. It haunted me that I traded a piece of my mind for this. Every time I took a social media break, I saw the difference in my brain function within hours. My feed was too personal to give to a social media manager and I was feeling trapped. I had a new conflict rising in me. Months into my new Instagram approach, I grew to care about the people in my feed and I followed accounts that brought me good feelings and knowledge. My community was becoming more defined. The people were interesting, smart, and fun. They had great thoughts and opinions on everything. I had all the right collaborations coming my way and I was hesitant about all of it. I knew I was still not being 100 percent genuine. Bottom line: building a business on Instagram didn’t make sense with it continually working against me. Fueling this was not the right thing to do to myself or anyone else in the world. It wasn’t harming me the way it had, but it’s harmful in general.
Every day Facebook was in the news for something bad, and there weren’t any meaningful changes.
At this point, it wasn’t Zuck at all. It’s the people supporting it. We have enough information on the dangers, so why? Money? Fear of missing out? I love missing out IRL.
I was getting antsy. I promoted a quote on instagram that said, ‘We need to apply the hippocratic oath to data. Do no harm.’ My own little ‘fuck you back.’ It gave me joy to think it was floating randomly through Instagram space. No surprise, after a few days, it was suddenly not promotable and my ad account was permanently suspended. Add selective censorship to my list of complaints. I didn’t care. I had done this once before. I quit my finance job, a job I loved, at the height of my career for my health and never looked back. Why was it taking me so long? I was bringing it on with that ad. That was my intention.
WITHIN DAYS, MAGIC HAPPENED FOR THE SECOND TIME
I was sitting on a train going from Portland to Seattle, and The Photographer appeared in my DM out of left field and suggested a new way of doing this —connecting—through newsletters. In my experience he was a man of few words, so his detailed advice and feedback surprised me. Everything he said made sense with the added bonus of pointing me in the right direction: easy to use, easy to take ownership of, and not at the mercy of Instagram. In a million years I wouldn’t have thought of this.
I SAW THE RHYTHM
The Game self implodes by annihilating its ‘real’ users. The trauma victims heal together with cannabis — the conduit to sincerity.
The country is about to get high with some seriously great cannabis. If you don’t believe in magic, look at the timing.
Who’s making the next platform? Maybe it’s already here and it’s called cannabis.
I dedicate my first Substack newsletter to The Photographer.
Find ‘Hi’ 3x
“Pain is my teacher, my disciplinarian and my most honest companion.”
-Stoner Epiphanies, Yours Truly