Facing My Irrational Fear of Sharing Content
For months now, I have been discussing the importance of content with the Teach Starter team. I’m a firm believer that if you’re not visible on social, then your business is practically invisible.
As an individual, I have always been reluctant to share personal content on social media. The quest for likes and shares can shape an individual’s self-worth. It was something I just wasn’t comfortable with.
So what has changed? Why do I now want to share? Three reasons:
- To improve the visibility of Teach Starter and share my journey as co-founder in the hope that it helps/educates/inspires others.
- To see if people deem my content worthy of their attention (I love a challenge!).
- To stay up to date with new social media features and platforms.
To be such a passionate believer in social as a critical channel for the future of our business, I knew that I needed to lead from the front. My actions had to back up my words. I had to face my fear!
So I devised a plan to get to the crux of the problem. It involved three steps.
- Identify why I‘m not comfortable sharing on social
- Address this irrational fear
- Start sharing!
Step 1: Identify why I’m not comfortable sharing on social
When trying to get to the root of a problem, I have found the ‘5 whys’ a useful exercise. The ‘5 whys’ is an interrogative technique that involves aspects of active listening to drill down to the root of an issue or idea.
Why 1: Why are you uncomfortable sharing content?
Because I think it looks like I am seeking attention and craving validation.
Why 2: Why is it an issue that it looks like you are seeking attention and craving validation?
Because I don’t want people to think that I am showing off or full of myself by sharing about my life.
Why 3: Why are you concerned about people thinking that you are showing off?
Because it reflects on me as a person. I feel like people will judge me.
Why 4: Why are you worried about how this will reflect on you as a person?
Because I’m worried about what they will think of me.
Why 5: Why are you worried about what people think of you?
For some reason it scares me.
Step 2: Address this irrational fear
To address this fear, I thought it would be a good idea to attack the problem from a ‘worst case scenario’ perspective .
I share something on social media and people might think and say negative things about me.
On the flip side, they might also think and say positive things about me.
I suppose that’s why all people share on social media. They share so that someone thinks something (ideally positive) about them.
They share to get a reaction.
That reaction then triggers a hit of dopamine and the cycle of social media addiction begins. More sharing = more reactions = more positive feelings.
So why do other people’s thoughts scare me so much? Why have I identified this as the barrier stopping me from sharing on social media?
Perhaps the reason lies in worrying about what people will think of me, instead of what they will think of my content.
One solution might be to separate myself from my content. I can then share more freely knowing that my content will be judged separately from myself.
This, however, is not as simple as it seems. The content I want to share, relates directly to me personally. It comes from my own personal experiences. I am sharing as me, and will be revealing myself to an audience outside of friends, family and the Teach Starter team.
That solution, of separating my content from myself, just isn’t going to cut it.
I will have to think of another way to face my fear.
Tim Urban, of Wait But Why fame, wrote an enlightening piece titled ‘Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think’.
In this article, Urban comically (and thoroughly) explores the innate, social survival mechanism of worrying about what other people think.
Essentially, Urban points out that we all have ‘an irrational and unproductive obsession with what other people think of us’. That 50,000 years ago, being part of a tribe was everything. Fitting in was crucial to survival. Being socially accepted was everything.
Urban continues, ‘Because of this, humans evolved an over-the-top obsession with what others thought of them — a craving for social approval and admiration, and a paralyzing fear of being disliked.’
This is the reality for many people. Their lives and decisions are shaped by what others (may) think of them.
The funny thing is, as Urban points out, almost nothing you’re socially scared of is actually scary. Unlike 50,000 years ago, you are in no actual danger. ‘Absorbing this thought will diminish the fear that you feel’, Urban concludes.
Think about public speaking. You are in no real danger, yet speaking to a crowd is many people’s number one fear.
The conclusion Urban arrives at can also be paired with studies around what people notice about others. Do you recall a time when you’ve spilled something small on your clothes and all you can think about is everyone staring at you and seeing the mess? Studies have revealed that people usually never see the mess on your shirt. In fact, the awkwardness emanating from your self-consciousness is far more apparent!
Internalising the fact that what other people think about me is not actually scary is certainly much easier said than done. However, I’m willing to give it a shot.
Time to stop caring and start sharing!
Step 3: Start sharing!
After some self-reflection and feedback from others, I determined that writing was the best place for me to start. I know podcasts are a huge opportunity, and video is already the dominant form of media on Facebook, but I think the written word represents my strongest entry point.
Putting myself in front of the camera… that’s another ball game entirely. I’m still working up to a selfie!
So, this is my commitment to content:
- Post one blog each week on Medium.
- Share one photo each day on Instagram.
- Share these photos and posts on Facebook.
That’s a minimum of 52 blogs, 365 photos and over 400 posts on Facebook. Who’s with me? Let’s #committocontent!
Now to decide on what to share. I think that’s a blog post in and of itself.
Looks like I better get started.