This post is inspired by a few conversations I’ve had recently on the topic of vulnerability:
- with @StuartSorensen about his fabulous post where he shared his work motivations arising from personal experiences of vulnerability
- with Brendan aka @StoryingShef from Storying Sheffield about the importance of honesty and vulnerability in creating a open story-telling culture within organisations
- with @Ermintrude2 in my last post where she shared the impact of social media on her confidence and wellbeing.
What I was struck by with each of these conversations, was the positive response I had to another person showing vulnerability. It is a way of showing trust and of making a connection. But the risk of showing vulnerability is to experience rejection and dis-connection. What is at stake when you show vulnerability on a public social media platform?
I’m going to be asking lots of different people to share personal experience and, by implication, their vulnerability in my research. So perhaps I ought to reflect on the impact of social media for me personally. Here goes…
Love/hate – sometimes I love social media and sometimes I hate it. If I feel all is right with my world then it enhances it. But if I’m feeling bad it makes me feel worse. I don’t use social media to get support – I’m not very good at showing vulnerability… even to my friends…
Playing it safe – I know I avoid controversy on social media because I worry about becoming a target of trolls or flamers – how boring. I’m not quite the whole me on Twitter.
Thrills – making new connections gives me a real thrill. I love it.
Regret – sometimes I realise I’ve been showing off and it makes me cringe….
Superficiality – does it all sometimes seem a bit superficial to you? It does to me sometimes. And other times I get quite a profound sense of sustenance from it.
Misunderstandings – very occasionally I have misunderstandings with other tweeps on Twitter – I know what I’m trying to say but I haven’t expressed it very well. I can be hard to sort out in 140 characters and I hate the feeling that others might think I’ve got views that I haven’t.
Pestering – a while ago someone really started pestering me on Twitter. I was surprised how much it bothered me. I stopped tweeting for a while. But fortunately when I told them (privately) they stopped. This experience now makes me cautious.
Maturity – when I first started messing about with social media – how many followers I had, what other people were up to, tweeps not responding to me, people un-following me – it all mattered. I’ve noticed these sorts of things bother me less these days. I think that’s probably about familiarity. But I’m not going to pretend they don’t matter at all.
You could argue that social media gives us the opportunity to present ourselves in a way which we can control, perhaps more so than in our real-world lives. The negative consequences of showing vulnerability or saying the wrong thing can be amplified hugely. But then what is the expense of not showing vulnerability – does it compromise our ability to make connections and build trust with others?
This YouTube clip is a great if you are interested in the topic of vulnerability in general terms: Brene Brown – The power of vulnerability