My 8 Step Journey From Hating to Loving Social Media

April 28, 2016

Russ Ewell

Technology has been part of my life since my earliest memories. Social Media had nothing to do with technology in my mind, so I resisted. What follows is my story. How I learned we no longer live in a world where the ‘Digital’ is divided from the ‘Real?’

They are one!

Fortunately we are at the beginning of this transformation, so it is not to late to follow my 8 steps and jump in!

Social Media and Digital Living Takes Time

The 5 Levels of Inclusion is one of my favorite blog posts of all time. This self-focused conceit is actually an admission of failure. Throughout my time exploring the usefulness of digital communication tools, it has taken me 4+ years to produce something I appreciate (one day I will produce something others appreciate).

Humility Opens Doors

I resisted the first time someone suggested I use social media or blogging tools to connect with the customers and partners of Digital Scribbler. From my perspective, time was too precious to waste on Twitter or Facebook.

Finding some humility, I listened to the Millennials in my life (Strauss/Howe Generational Theory at Work). The journey began with the Scribbles on my Digital Scribbler Blog.

Since I am familiar with technology there was no technological learning curve. Once I began writing posts the need to tell others about them became apparent. This opened the door to social media with Twitter being my first choice.

Back To The Future

When I logged on to my Twitter account the truth began to surface. There would be no technological learning curve, but the social transition from physical to digital was going to be cataclysmic. Place me in a room full of people and I typically know what to do, but staring at a screen with 140 characters as my only means of engagement, sent me back to the future as an awkward insecure 6th-grade nerd (Black Rim glasses and all).

Becoming Digitally Socialized

This was the best thing that could have happened to me. Twitter forced me to learn. I had to become digitally socialized. My mistakes were countless and humbling. The graciousness of experienced users was amazing. Step by step I gained experience and the power of ‘Digital Living’ was upon me.

Digital is Real, Real is Digital

‘Digital Living’ continues to be a time challenge for me. I fall off the wagon like the last several months, and then I get back on. Part of this is because I am at the beginning of Generation X, and my Baby Boomer influences make me forget we live in a world where Digital is Real and Real is Digital (Politico explains this generational effect best here).

Digital Scribbler
I started writing on “The Friendship Circle” because of Social Media

Taking the Leap or Full Immersion

Breaking my tendency to compartmentalize is now my goal, so I have leaped in and am trying to embrace my 21st century life.

I keep videos on and enjoy using YouTube. My LinkedIn account has become a primary connection point for people who want to understand my mission of ‘using technology to overcome human limits.

Twitter is where I learn the most, and although I am not as engaging as I would like to be, this is the place where I have turned digital interactions into face to face meetings.

Facebook has reconnected me with old friends and allowed me to share my thoughts and ideas with all my friends. I am certain they grow weary with my constant posting, but I am an Infovore, and when I see something valuable I have to share.

Edutopia is a place where I can immerse myself in an educational atmosphere, and find great resources. What I enjoy most is commenting. In fact, Edutopia has inspired me to post comments on the Wall Street Journal.

Quora is a social media question and answer platform. I feel comfortable here because it has a Silicon Valley culture of inquisitiveness and humility. The problem I faced was taking everything too seriously, which kept me from posting or asking questions. Recently, my breakthrough has been to answer questions about basketball. 

Rather than trying to be smart, I am having fun, so Quora has become one of my most relaxing digital destinations (This could all change if James Harden finds my answers about why he doesn’t play defense!).

Finding a Role Model

I love to write and digital platforms make this easy. My struggle is finding or making the time. No one I know is trying to do what I am doing, so I had to find a role model, someone who could inspire me by their example.

 M.G. Siegler has become my role model, although he has no idea who I am, which is the beauty of digital learning. I have studied his digital disposition, because he enjoys and produces great writing without taking himself too seriously, and was schooled in my home state of Michigan (Go Blue!).

Siegler has given me a second wind. I am now writing on Digital Scribbler with an emphasis on inclusion. My posts on this site are about leadership, creativity, and whatever comes to mind. I am planning to reengage with E-Sports, where I can write about E-Soccer and other inclusive sports (I received a Jefferson Award and Congressional Citation for this work).

Breaking All The Rules 

For those who are counting, I am spread thin. This doesn’t even count Learnist, Tumblr where I post about books (Fitzgerald’s Window), or my “Not So Daily Shorts” on Weebly. These have all received less attention because my heart has been stolen by Medium!

I am breaking all the social media rules and loving it, because my primary goal is learning not being noticed (although I do hope someone notices something at some point).

Have I wasted my time?

There are 10 reasons this has not been a waste of time.

  1. Audrey Waters met me on Social Media and gave Digital Scribbler our first good press, defining us better than we defined ourselves on Hack Education!
  2. Hacking Autism with HP and Phil McKinney another great experience here.
  3. Taught at Lesley college over Skype (couldn’t make the trip)
  4. Connected Hope Technology School with KIT two groundbreaking inclusion groups
  5. Published on SF Gate
  6. Published on Friendship Circle
  7. Quick Talk and Quick Type give a voice to verbally challenged people around the world
  8. Great reviews for Digital Scribbler products
  9. I have connected with a rich special needs inclusion community, which lead to an interview on the Think Inclusive Podcast!
  10. Quoted in Wired!
  11. None of this would have been possible without the 8 step journey from hating to loving social media!