Forget Social Media, Carve Your Own Path

I don’t surf the net/ No I never been on MySpace/
Too busy letting my voice vibrate/ Carving out my space/ — Jay Z (Beach Chair)

Because of the Internet and social media it’s easier than ever to keep up with your friends and colleagues. I’m a big proponent of cultivating relationships, helping one another, and spreading ideas — that’s primarily why this blog exists.

But this vast and changing social landscape also makes it increasingly easy to compare ourselves to others, to spend countless hours looking at people’s Facebook photo albums, or reading blog posts talking about the latest gadgetry or waxing poetic about the same old nonsense.

I encourage you to leverage the speed of social media to solidify connections, advance ideas, and create positive change, but I also encourage you to cut all that other crap out.

  • It doesn’t matter that Jenny wrote a book before she turned 30. (Even though she’s super awesome).
  • Ignore the virtual tour of your old classmate’s new house.
  • Stop reading 10 new ways to market your Facebook page. They’re not new. 100 people have written this exact same post.
  • Hell, stop reading this blog if you’re not learning something new, if it’s not leading you to take action or adding value to your life.

There’s significantly more noise than ever before. Trying to keep up with all of it and be everything to everyone is a waste of time. It’s just fear manifesting itself through excuses and procrastination and we’re all guilty of it – some more than others.

Take a queue from Jay-Z and bury your head in your own work. The less time you spend comparing yourself to others, caring about what others think of you, and educating yourself on things you inherently know the more time you have to carve out your own niche.

You might find that when you pick your head back up, you’re ahead of those you were comparing yourself to — more importantly you’ll be ahead of where you were before you got in the trenches.

Photo Credit: Juergen Kurlvink

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  • Preach on, brother Ryan. Preach on!

    I find myself enjoying life more (and increasing my productivity) when I engage in less social media, or unplug all together! People concern themselves far too much what everyone else is doing and if they are missing out. I can’t even tell you the last time I logged into Facebook…6 months ago maybe?

    Tweet less. Do more. That’s my motto.
    David Stehle´s last blog post ..Fight Or Flight


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    @David – I hate that it took me so long to come to this realization (about 6 months or so ago). The Interwebs are just one gigantic ego trap if all you do is look around, see what others are doing, and think you have to duplicate that.

    You’ll end up doing a lot of surface-level things and not ever doing anything of real, sustainable value. Besides that you’ll be accomplishing what other people want/expect and not your true reason to serve.


  • I think this is great advice that never gets followed, Ryan.

    Too often, would be writers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, etc. never act on their true dreams because they are waiting for the case of “perfect.” The perfect time, the best way, the right partner – and thinking that if they have the most Twitter followers or blog subscribers – they’ve accomplished something.
    There will always be more and better and everything that is out there, but you won’t accomplish much if you are sitting on the sidelines pointing out what everyone else and feeling bummed you can’t join in on the fun.
    Raven´s last blog post ..You’re too smart for this job &amp other lies we tell ourselves in the office


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    @Raven – You’re a 100% right, it’s a never-ending rat race if you let it be. I hope that it some point most people look up and realize that — but I suspect there’s these tiny slivers of social validation in playing the #’s game that makes people think they’re on the right track.

    Fortunately, there’s some smart people and some sound organizations doing some really cool things right now to get people to stop participating in the everyday minutiae and start creating work that matters – that impacts our society.


  • I’m trying to find my own way to balance this. I’m just not at a computer that often, so I can’t stay constantly plugged in. Maybe that’s good because when I am online, I really want quality. I’ve been shirking “duties” to be as connected as I had been before, but I’ve found that being plugged in and constantly plugging are two different things. I am more discerning now, but I do appreciate that if I fall off the grid for a bit, people like you and some of our peers will still be around when I come back.


  • Great post sir. Since I’m a relative newbie on the social media blogging front, I have definitely felt overwhelmed by all the things I should be doing (SEO, Analytics, Great Copy, Content Marketing) to the point where you want to chuck it all.

    I think one of the main issues is the metric tons of information available to us in an instant, we feel like all of that work needs to be done that immediately. I’ve tried to take a step back and focus on producing or contributing to articles in my field and worry less about all the SEO, Twitter, etc. that could become too distracting. Plus, I try not to compare myself to the heavyweights who have been in this game for 5+ years or I become discouraged.


  • Nicely put, Ryan! In my own case, comparing myself to other, better writers always made me put down the pen, making me think that my writing wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough, and that I would never achieve my dreams because of it.

    Which is bullshit. You achieve your dreams because of you — not because of anyone else. And the only reason you can’t? Is if you’re not working towards them in the first place.

    So I’m ignoring those voices of comparison and, yes, even ignoring social media every so often, as I pick up the pen and write the novel — and what I’m finding is not only am I believing in myself again, not only am I getting far (or farther), but I’m having a blast with it.

    I’d missed that part most of all.

    Great post!