Some of the best advice I ever received as a writer came from the musical collective known as Gungor. After a late night of adventure together, we all squeezed into a four-door sedan and continued the talks that carried us through the night. As we pulled into the hotel to drop them off, David Gungor concluded our talk on writing by speaking these words to me: “The best place you can start as an aspiring writer is to realize that you have nothing to say.” And then he left.
To be quite honest, his statement initially offended me. Of course I had something to say! I wouldn’t be a writer if I believed I had nothing to say.
But his statement strikes at the heart of a deeper issue. Much like me, there are many of us who have pride in our own voice. Our voice breathes out our passions, our purpose, and what our life is all about. It is basically the exclamation and output of our souls. But what happens when we have too much pride over our voice?
What happens is that we become addicted to any outlet that allows our voice to be heard and emphasized. This is where social media steps in.
Social media tells us our voice is important. And that is okay! In fact, that is good. But social media also does this for everyone to the point where it becomes more of a competition of which voice gets heard more than connecting with people and their passions.
Elevate the addiction and we find the most damaging consequence social media can offer us. In the collection of noises that is social media, it can become hard to pick out any one voice, even when it’s your own.
Let me explain. As a writer, I do most of my work over social media. But after a while, I began to find social media was building my ego more than my passion. I tried several ways to make my passion and purpose for writing more marketable over social media, that it got to the point where I lost my voice entirely. My voice became a product of the masses, and my passion and creativity suffered.
This is the danger to social media. We throw our voice into the sea of constant competing voices, and soon enough, we lose the essence of why we were really speaking at all. And this isn’t just a problem for writers. It’s a problem for anyone who wants to market themselves or gain a presence over social media. We run into the danger of losing ourselves in the noise of other voices vying for attention.
What can we do to reclaim our voice from the raging currents of social media?
The solution is simple. We stop our addiction to social media.
Just like any other addiction, doing this is easier said than done. When I realized that I needed to pull away from social media, what ended up happening was that I went cold turkey. In fact, I did more than go cold turkey. I stayed completely silent.
In silence, we can clearly hear our own voice. We can hear the breathe of our soul, passion, and creativity move through our body. The sound doesn’t get muddied or water-down through the clutter of other voices. We instead hear our own voice re-engage itself with a dialogue necessary to find itself.
We have to know and keep our voice because this is what social media was created for. It was created for community, which involves us engaging in dialogue with who we really are, not who we were made to be because of social media. At best, social media works as a community. In its worst state, it drowns out our voice.
We cannot have our voice be the product of social media, but rather keep social media as a medium through which we produce.
But the problem is not all social media. The problem is ourselves. After all, we are the ones who become addicted. The addiction happens when we have too much pride in our own voice.
When I find myself drowning in the rising waters of social media, I remember what David Gungor told me. I remember that my voice needs to be humbled to the point where I realize that my voice isn’t so much about speaking, but rather saying what needs to be said.
In speaking just to speak, I contribute to a cycle that draws me in for the sole purpose of getting my own voice heard. In saying what needs to be said, we push our culture and ourselves to become better. [Tweet that] But through a pride in our own voice, we only build our own ego. There is a difference, and it is in the difference that we can stop our addiction to social media and use it for the betterment of our society.
Are you addicted to social media? If so, are you approaching it to hear your own voice bounce off of others, or to contribute to the betterment of society with a clearly defined voice?