Sunday, June 12, 2011

Swimming the Social Sites

Have you ever taken a second to think about how much the Internet impacts your social life?  Have you ever credited the Internet - or it's tools - as a factor in succeeding in your weight loss goals?  I have.

I remember the first time I was introduced to the World Wide Web.  I was in 7th grade, and taking a computer class.  From the first click of "connect" I was, information, chat rooms, Yahoo!... I was in geek girl HEAVEN!!

Fast forward a lot of years...and I'm still completely addicted to the Internet.  I remember the day I was introduced to it - but I often wonder how the heck I lived life without it.  We are in the age of technology, and I feel pretty happy saying that I've kept up with the times - and feel pretty comfortable when it comes to gadgets, gizmos, and computery stuff.

I remember being addicted to chat rooms - remember those?  Yep, I started using them in high school - thought they were the coolest things ever.  That was before Spam Bots bombarded you with "View My Cam" posts...stupid bots.  When I was single, I lived on chat rooms after my kids were in bed.  It was my connection to the outside world.  My "adult conversation".. (not that kind of adult!)  I can proudly say that it was a chat room that brought Hubby and I together.  Chat rooms, in my delusional mind, were better than meeting someone at a bar.  They were also my first encounter with an online social life.

Then, there was MySpace.  Ah, cool that was?  My first introduction to sharing my life with random strangers, friends, and family.  I taught myself something about HTML with MySpace to create cool profile backgrounds. 

While I was a MySpace addict, someone suggested Facebook to me.  I checked it out and thought meh.  It was OK - not as cool as MySpace... no cool backgrounds, no profile music players...but, like the rest of the world, it didn't take long for me to get addicted with posting my entire life in a few sentences "Going to work" - SHARE  "Going out with the family" - SHARE...I started connecting with old friends from high school, friends from work, random people..and MySpace became a thing of the past.

Then, came my blog.  My wonderful, amazing blog.  I've always loved journal writing - but love my computer even more.  I was now able to share my love of writing with my love of my computer - and blogging life was born.  Within a few months, I noticed people were starting to read what I had to write.  I couldn't believe that other people were interested in what I had to say.  So, then I began looking for other people that blogged about weight loss...and my blog roll started to get longer and longer. 

All of these wonderful social sites, I managed to master.  I am still addicted to my Facebook and my blog...and my new(ish) love?? Twitter.  Now, Twitter...that's funny.  140 characters to share what I'm doing...not too difficult, right?  I would post my status updates about working out, what I'm eating, and my blog posts...and before I knew it, people were "following" me.

Also, who can't love a site where you can find out what your favorite celebs are up to?  Knowing when they're on the way to the airport...eating dinner..hanging with their friends...being "normal"...what a fantastic concept.

The people I follow on Twitter are completely different to my Facebook.  Out of the 361 friends I have on Facebook, I can proudly say that I know 90% of them personally.  Out of the 461 followers I have on Twitter - I know only 1 personally - Hubby.  I have a few friends on there...but...

Twitter was another way for me to connect to people on the same journey I'm on.  I got rid of my personal Twitter account - that's what my Facebook was for - and became @madfatwoman.  Being on Twitter, though, is still pretty different for me.  It's not a site I've been able to "master".  I still feel like a newbie - even though I've been on there for over a year.

When I'm on Twitter, I kind of feel like I'm swimming in deep water.  People are able to have full conversations on there - in 140 characters - and I'm still learning how to stay afloat with all of that.  I will say that Twitter has helped me stay connected to the people I admire in the weight loss community.  I like to read their status updates, and there are lots of cool words of inspiration posted all day long.

To me, though, I'm still just an observer.  It's kind of like attending a party.  I'm standing by the bar, drink in hand, watching everyone mingle...while I wait for someone - anyone - to say something to me.  I throw out a few "hi, how are ya?"s - and get those quick "fine" responses...and those people go back to their conversations with the people they know.  It's still a very new environment for me.

I know that I'm all over the place with the post.  What's my point in all of this?  My point is - last night, I received an email from someone that just started reading my blog.  She wanted to know how I managed to stay so motivated.  I didn't respond with "read the past few months of blog posts, I've been struggling"... no, I accounted a lot of my success to my social networks.  The blogs I read, the Facebook statuses, the Twitter posts. 

It then hit me, I read so many blogs and Twitter posts from people that have made such great connections using the sites...and I'm still that person standing by the bar.  If my motivation can turn a full 180 by just reading about others successes...what could I accomplish if I was really in on the networks that are out there?  I know that I have to throw myself out there's time to bite the bullet and move away from the bar...join in on conversations, not just be an observer.

I have managed to make a couple of close connections.  My friend, Adah, from Plain Ole Grandma Is Losing It was my challenge partner during a Sisterhood challenge.  After the challenge, we stay connected through email and by posting on each other's blog. 

Then, a couple of days ago, I got a message from another blogging friend - Colleen from Goodbye, Fat Girl asking me if I texted.  Do I text?? That's like asking me if I change my underwear.  I do, in case you were wondering.  We exchanged phone numbers, and now we're keeping each other accountable by texting each other after working out.

Having these connections are a big deal to me.  They really help my motivation... but there's always room for more.  I want to be part of the crowd mingling on Twitter.  I want to be able to say that the weight loss community I admire so much are my friends...and not just "people I follow".  So, I'm going to be throwing myself out there....if you don't already follow me on Twitter.. please do, I'll follow you back.  I'm gonna start replying, getting in on conversations, and building my network of friends.

Can't wait to get to know you all.  Oh, and if you wanna get in on the texting thing, shoot me an email  I really am a texting junky.  I have my phone with me 24/7.

Till next time. ;)
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  1. You are obviously much younger than I am since I remember getting my first PC in grad school and there was not internet then, yet, that I know of. When I started blogging I had hardly read any and had no idea there was an amazing community out here. Love it.

  2. I can *totally* relate to this article: the geekiness, the love of chat rooms (squee 1998 baby!!), feeling a bit adrift in Twitterland.

    W/o all the social media aspects of it, I know I would not have stuck with blogging as long as I have-and while I haven't been as successful as I want to be, I know I am in a waaaay better place than last summer!


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