How Snapchat saved me from myself

I’m 43 years old, married with two children and a dog. I work for a large corporation and have been doing the same thing there for close to twenty years now. I’m just short of “middle management” and probably peaked back in 2006. On occasion, I wear dad pants and a polo and if I’m real lucky, I get to wear jeans on Friday. I am more than aware that I am the cliche and at least I have that going for me.

But I have a secret. Something that falls way outside of the norm of the “business” world I live in. I like flowers. Like a lot. I spend as much of my free time outside tinkering in my 2 + acre garden in rural NJ as I possibly can. And I love to write about this passion. I love to take hundreds of photos at a clip and include them with my writing. I’ve been doing this for 6 years now and it is my escape from my cliche world.

At first, I only shared my work with family and close friends but soon got the itch to open up to the world. I liked the feedback and I got off on people thinking of me differently than they had before.

“Is he serious with this garden stuff?”

“I could see him being into the lawn and shit, but flowers?”

It was fun to catch people off guard and not have them understand what was going on. A contrast they had trouble coming to grips with. I also enjoyed escaping the corporate James and Fred’s and loved the exposure to other plant lovers like me all over the world. This felt more real and with fewer status meetings.

Once the blog became a regular endeavor for me, I took the next logical step and dove face first into social media. All of my posts were promoted on Facebook and in between sports rants on Twitter. This is easy I thought. Just drop a link and everyone will want to read it. Just friend someone and they’ll friend you back and then they’ll want to read all of your posts.

Of course I ignored all of the “social” aspects of social media. I didn’t put in the time with any of the platforms to engage with others. If I look back at my Twitter feed it’s an embarrassment of my own links and not much else. I became a narcissist because I figured that was the blueprint for success.

I made a conscious effort to change that way of thinking when I first engaged others on Pinterest and Instagram and went back to Facebook and Twitter for a second go round. But even as I upped my engagement levels, I realized I was still coming from the same place of only promoting myself. Leave a comment with an opening to slyly encourage you to head over to my blog. Not as transparent, but still selfish as hell.

At that same time, I was struggling to come to grips with who I was in terms of a (and I hate to utter this word) “brand”. While the world is all about “growing your own” and “farm to table”, I’m all about ornamental plants and pretty stuff. I’m dabbling in social media where all of the younger crowd hangs while most of my readers are 50 and above. Facebook is my best bet for interaction with an older audience yet I’m full bore into Twitter and Instagram.

I’ll spare you with any more details around my journey and get to my point. My 10 year old daughter is very active on Musical.ly and I’ve been watching her operate on it from afar. She also asked to join Snapchat and my initial thought was hell, no. Isn’t that the app where it is all about selfies and receiving nasty pics from people you don’t know? My dad card would be revoked if I allowed it.

To reinforce my original Snapchat thesis, I downloaded the app and dove in. I couldn’t make sense out of it at first. Must be intuitive to teens and I’m missing the point. But then I learned how to face swap with my daughter and spit out fire. Fun. Maybe I can play around on here as well. Let me follow some people, they’ll blindly follow me back and we’ll be on our way.

What, no suggested people to follow? What, no comments can be left on photos or videos? What the hell is a story? Why am I pressured to take quick videos? This timer is friggin intimidating.

Fast forward a few weeks and homey is all in. I’ve researched a ton and followed some of the better “snappers” in the world to see how they are doing it. And you know what? I could care less who friends me and who actually sees my stuff. It is a creative outlet like none I’ve seen in a long time. An incredible opportunity to tell a story in a unique, immediate and intimate way. You know, like actually speaking with someone but with emojis and drawings. No pressure to promote, just the impetus to get the creative juices flowing. Be who I am and throw caution to the wind.

And yes, I will resist the option to screen shot my blog’s home page and add it to my story.

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