Episode 303 - Featuring Lee Matthew Jackson
February 3, 2021
I am quitting social media. In this episode I explore the reasons why and how I will be showing up online in the future.
Granted there are so many benefits, and yet, the struggle to separate business and pleasure has been a difficult process. I’ve felt guilty, even compelled to double down putting more time and energy into my social presence only to realise I was repeating history:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”
How I will be approaching online engagement will significantly change over the next few months fuelled by the following trigger points:
A great video that encouraged me recently as I sanity check my WHY for taking such drastic action can be found here.
I give a shoutout to this episode during today’s show.
Don’t worry! I will still be online just in a different way. You’ll have to listen to this episode to find out how.
Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer podcast, this is your host Lee and on today’s show, I want to share why I am coming off social media. Dun dun dun.
But before we carry on, let’s thank our wonderful sponsors Cloudways, who do an amazing job on social media and provide wonderful managed cloud hosting services. They are the cloud provider that we trust with all of our agency projects, especially those that need a lot of resource and excellent support. You can find out more on agencytrailblazer.com/cloudways.
Right, let’s get stuck in. I, Lee Matthew Jackson am coming off social media and I’d really, really appreciate if you hang out with me for this for several reasons. Number one, all is not as it seems so please do stay tuned, of course. Number two, perhaps what I share may be of some help to you. That’s on a personal level, equally, some help to your business. So do hang out with me as I share why I am coming off social media and what my plans are for the future.
Now, it’s a pretty big ask for somebody who has grown their brand and their podcast through social media to then just do a disappearing act and you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting less. And if you have a real eagle eye, you may have noticed that my LinkedIn account doesn’t even exist anymore, which is an incredible feeling. Oh, my word. I’m so glad not to be receiving the many messages per day that I usually receive from agencies who are currently offering great deals on SEO and Web development, all for the low, low rate of twenty dollars per hour and apparently they’re based in America with a stock image that I can find from unsplash.
So thank you to all you guys out there who sent me those. I can no longer receive them because I do not exist on LinkedIn. But let me kind of rewind and explain what the hell is going on. Is Lee Matthew Jackson, as I like to term myself online with this whole personal brand, is he having an identity crisis? Probably. Possibly. Is he having a mid-life crisis? I’d say most definitely. With that hoodie and cap and the beard and everything else he’s got going on. But there is an actual method to my madness.
I want to share with you first on a personal level what being on social media has kind of done to me and it’s not great. I’ve essentially been on a mental health rollercoaster. I’ve had a terrible work life balance. I’ve not been present in so many situations. I’ve found myself wrapped up and addicted to the devices that get me connected with as many people as possible. It’s not been a great experience.
In fact, it’s been an exhausting experience. I’ve actually found it’s been a constant drain. Whilst I love and appreciate all the people that I get to connect with, I’ve found that I’m having to show up and continuously give and give, and there is only so much that you can take. There’s only so far that you can go until you realize that this is having a really serious impact on your mental health, your work life balance and your relationships.
Despite 2020 and being home so much, I was still too busy to achieve really important things. I recognised that sentence I’ve shared with you many times, that sentence that changed my entire life all those years ago when we reset our agency. Only a fool does the same thing over and over again and expects different results. You see, I’ve been that fool for many years. I’ve been that person who keeps showing up online and continues to do more and more and more. If you look at my Facebook page, if it still exists when you’re listening to this, I’m not sure if it will.
I went through a phase where I went live every single day, five days a week for weeks, and it didn’t kill me, but it’s certainly exhausted me. I felt like I had to keep doing more and more and more. And that was the point, that was the moment where I realized that I was doing the same thing and more of the same thing and still expecting different results. I realize that 2020 is a year of change and I have the ability to take extraordinary action to change the outcomes, and that means I have to take extraordinary steps. I have to go against the perceived grain and perhaps take myself out of the equation when it comes to social media, when it comes to the platform that seems to get most of my attention and zap most of my energy.
What I’m going to do in this episode is just break down the core aspects of social media that have affected me, my life, my business, my relationships, etc and I’m going to explain to you how I will be showing up in the future via social media.
I want you to know that this is not an episode where I’m going to bash on the tech that’s out there, the way that we can all communicate, the way that social media allows us to be a huge planet all connected via the global village. I agree that social media certainly has its benefits, but it needs to be used right. And I believe that I’ve been going about things wrong for a very long time, much to my own detriment and I do need to make these changes. So let’s go through those key reasons and then I’m going to explain to you how I’ll be showing up and how we can continue to connect.
So I’ve broken this down into four sections, Section one: mental health section two: work life balance, Section three: expectations, and finally, Section four: relationships. Starting with mental health, I recognized that there were three core areas that were really affecting me with social media.
The first one is how addictive social media is. I’d be checking my phone so many times just to see what the latest comments were, to see what the latest conversations were, to see what the comments had been on something I’d posted and to see how many likes something I had posted got. That endorphin rush that you get when people start to react or give you positive feedback and comments and all of that is highly addictive. So checking your social media on a Sunday in the evening, in the middle of the night on the toilet, it’s a bad sign. That’s kind of where I was at. And so many times I’ve managed to get out of that and then kind of got sucked back into it. But the first thing is I just recognized that my mental health, my feeling of well-being was starting to rely on the positive feedback loops that I would get from social media and the addictive nature.
Next was the negativity that I was finding online. People online just seemed to be so freakin rude. I mean, I wouldn’t walk into a room and meet up with someone and then just give the benefit of my opinion, not asked for in a rude manner when somebody says something. It’s just weird how people seem to think it’s OK to be miserable and negative and picky and pick fights and be argumentative online. I don’t like it. It’s really horrible and that is something that has really brought me down over time. I’ve got involved in these arguments. I’ve really tried to change people’s opinion or stick up for other people, and I found it exhausting. I don’t like that negativity, nor do I like the negativity when I put something online and you know, people, again, give me the benefit of their opinion in such a negative kind of slapdown manner.
I’m like, seriously? Following on from that, there’s the self-image and my self-esteem I mentioned with the addiction. I’m looking for that feedback loop. I’m looking for social media to give me a feeling of, yeah, you’re all right, you’re doing a good job Lee. People like what you’re doing, people like what you’re saying they agree. People are building you up and all that sort of stuff and unfortunately, with that mix of negativity in there, which really does bring you down, coupled with the fact you can see other people’s quote on quote, perfect lives going on your own self esteem, your own self-image really starts to struggle.
I start to say things that I shouldn’t like: Oh, I should be doing what that person’s doing. I should be doing more of what that person is doing. Maybe that person’s right about my approach to my business. Maybe that person’s negative comment is right about me and all of that is really unhealthy. I shouldn’t be laying my entire emotional framework on social media, especially when there are so many platforms and people are pretty much free to say what they want and gosh darn it, they will miserable bleep’s.
Anyway, let’s move on to work-life balance. I mentioned how addictive social media has become and I go through peaks and troughs with that. Sometimes I cannot be on social media at all. Other times I’m on it all the time and it became a distraction for me, especially during 2020 when we were stuck at home where I was looking for things to do online, both for me at a personal level, things to go and look at, things to go consume, but also on a business level thinking, well, what can we do with social media for the business? What content can we create? How can we promote it? What Facebook ads can we do? What blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, just this constant distraction. So that in itself distracts me from the work that I should be doing, thus creating a good, strong, healthy company with a clear vision and a clear plan. But equally, it distracts me in general from anything that I’m doing and slows me down.
I found that social media creates work for me. I have to respond to people. I have to create more content. I have to come up with these new ideas. I must invest in this particular course to understand how to foster my group more effectively, or perhaps this one to write the killer headline for a Facebook ad. It creates this sense of work. It creates this sense of having to do more than I really have to do.
I did a podcast a few months back, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes where I kind of ask, are we wasting time on social media? And you can tell I’m really, really going through this journey and I’m realizing that I need to be ridiculously intentional about what I do on social media rather than just being on social media, for social media sake and jumping on the latest bandwagon. Hello, clubhouse. Although, I actually did try and get on it just because I’m a follower and then realized that I needed an iPhone and then I was actually relieved because it meant I didn’t have yet another distraction.
The other thing, and this is the final thing on work-life balance and this is probably the most important and I would challenge you to look at this yourself is that there’s no separation between family, friends and work. If I’m on social media and I’m showing up on social media for my business as well as for my family, there is no separation. I can’t escape from seeing the feeds of people that I would normally mix with on a work basis. So if it’s a weekend and I see that somebody is launching a new book or doing something that I’m dreaming of but don’t have the time to do, it’s actually just sucks for me and my mental health for a start off. But equally, I start thinking about work again.
There’s no separation. I can’t post pictures of my baby online because I’m actually friends with a whole lot of people that I’m not even sure who they all are anymore. I mean, it’s that bad. I’ve had to continuously go through and try and remove as many friends as I could because I was up to 2000 friends on Facebook alone. There’s no separation, I don’t feel comfortable being Lee at a family/friend level because I’m also aware that there are so many people on social media connected with me in some way, some capacity on one of these many platforms who are also to do with work. It’s just such a messy space and I’ve certainly not enjoyed that aspect of it.
This segways perfectly into expectations because of that blend of communities that you’re connected with via social media, including family, friends, etc. It really does affect overall expectations. If you put yourself out on social media, people expect that they should be able to contact you. And when you are on a platform that does mix with family and friends and and work, et cetera, I find that people who purchase products off me expect to be Facebook friends, expect to be able to add my family members to their friend lists, expect to be able to communicate with me at random times.
You know who you are. But you messaged me at Christmas to ask me a question about how I do something. And I’m really sorry, but I actually found that ridiculously rude to do that, because in the message you even pointed out, you recognized I was taking time off. Sorry, that was really passive aggressive. Anyway, that really frustrated me because there is this expectation that you’re contactable. I couldn’t relax and check social media and share pictures of my family and and chat to my mum and everyone else on social media, because the minute I would show up and check things, I was getting messages from people who were in the workspace. That’s the problem. There are no boundaries when it comes to mixing social media with business, work, life, etc., etc..
There’s also an expectation when you do show up as yourself on the Internet that you’re going to keep showing up. You are going to give all of yourself. People ask really personal questions about your life and your business and expect answers. I saw on Reddit at some point one person asked me a question and I didn’t answer it and then they followed up 24 hours later to ask, Oh, you must have missed it lee, could you please answer this question? And again, I just deliberately didn’t answer it because again, hey, where are the boundaries? But also why is there an expectation that I should keep showing up? I do have a business. I do have a life. I have a family to support. I have my brain and my own mental health to support and all power to them I get it there on a platform where you can go ahead and ask questions, etc. But I do think it’s fair to, you know, not get an answer now and again. That could just be could just be me.
Let’s take a look finally at relationships and this is a real important one. Just like the family/friend work separation relationships are a strange one when it comes to social media.
First thing is, I found myself neglecting real friendships. So that means neglecting my best friend, which is my wife, but also neglecting friendships with other people. It’s a weird feeling where you kind of can like a post instead of sending them a birthday card. There’s a whole load of things that I find myself getting really lazy with when it comes to social media. Rather than investing time with friendships, investing time with jumping on a telephone and having conversations. You kind of feel that you still have that friendship because you know what they ate last week on Instagram and you know where they went and you put a really nice love heart comment on something. I’m kind of still neglecting those friendships just, you know, showing up in a way that the path of least resistance. I’m not actually investing in those relationships that I so love and cherish. So for me, that was a big deal.
I really had to pull back and work out alright, how can I communicate with those that I really want to develop those good, strong relationships with? And that has included being able to message them directly via our phones and having telephone conversations and voice bubbles using apps that are not nothing to do with social media, which has been a fantastic experience. But also it increases the number of superficial relationships. Ohh that sounds well, posh. We did Google that for a good phrase, because I couldn’t come up with a good phrase like that.
I was calling them fake friends. But it does create those superficial relationships where you are connected with all of these people that you don’t really fully know, but you will have some kind of thing in common. And because, again, of that blend of work-life and family and those lack of boundaries, you’re all kind of in on each other’s life a bit more than you probably should be. But you’re not necessarily like the best of friends and it’s potentially not even a real friendship, because some of those friendships, if we’re honest, are probably based on what can they get rather than what can they give or even just based on a true friendship of valuing each other.
The final point in relationships is that I just recognize that I can’t actually be friends with that many people. And I probably sound like a real negative Nelly right now having a go about social media and moaning about people contacting me and all that sort of stuff and I’m sorry if that does come across negatively, but I just kind of need to share where I’m at with social media, how it’s really affected me and how I think things need to change for me so that I can be a better person, I can be more productive, and I can actually achieve the goals I want to, which is to help agency owners grow a business that they love and to keep it.
That’s my mission and I’m not sure that I can do that mission if my mental health is being affected, if my work-life balance has been affected. If the expectations that are being placed on me are just too much, and if my relationships are suffering and again, like I said, I can’t be friends with that many people, but I can show up in a different way.
So we’ve kind of got all of that out of the way. Let’s talk about the future. How is Lee Jackson going to show up in social media moving forward? To do that, let’s take a look at some of the brands that I represent. The first one is this podcast. This is the Agency Trailblazer podcast, and it is hosted by Lee Jackson. I’m your host and you’re listening to me. Hello. Great to meet you. There is also Event Engine which has multiple brands within it in the event space and I am Lee Jackson, the co-founder of Event Engine and the co-creator of many of the products that it has developed over the years. There’s also Cloudways where I’m a Cloudways Maverick and I show up online and in written form providing value to agency owners that use the cloud platform.
Now, what I recognize here is that there are three brands of which I can contribute to. It’s OK for me to show up as Lee Jackson representing those brands, to appear on their platforms and to provide value and also disconnect myself and have my own private space. This means I can show up on those platforms as Lee Jackson with the value I have to provide but it’s not expected that I will be in constant communication and so easily accessible.
Instead I’m just simply Lee Jackson, one of the team of that brand. It’s the brand that people are drawn to and of course, that is affected by the people from within the brand. Look at the Cloudways Mavericks people enjoy their content because people are drawn to Piccia or to Jan or to me, and they love what Cloudways stands for and that’s super important.
But that’s great because that means three different personalities can show up as themselves under the banner of the brand, which is Cloudways. We can all show up and provide immense value. We can be there, we can answer questions live, we can be friendly, etc. and then we can all go home and crack on with whatever other plans that we all have. There isn’t any sort of expectation that all of us would therefore continue to be contactable for support or for more beyond that, because that’s why there is a wider Cloudways team that provide all of those different services.
So I recognize that with Agency Trailblazer, with Event Engine, that’s what I need to do. Instead of building the Lee Matthew Jackson personal brand and I put my full name in there because there’s so many Lee Jacksons out there. Actually, I think I’m going in the wrong direction. I shouldn’t be making it about Lee Matthew Jackson. I should actually elevate those brands that I work for or work with and show up as Lee Matthew Jackson, providing the relevant value under each one of those banners and not making myself the central focus point.
I’ve read so many books on personal branding and was thinking that, well, that must be where I need to go. Maybe it has to be me. You know, I’m the central connection point to all of these brands, but not necessarily at all. You know, I’m attracted to the Cloudways brand because I love it. I love what they stand for. I love their designs. I love the content that they put out. I love the way they bring communities together across different spectrums and we’re not just talking WordPress. I know a lot of WordPress people listen to this show, but equally through Magento and so much more. I love all that and that’s a brand that I’m attracted to that I want to align myself with as a consumer, as a listener, as a client. I just feel exceptionally lucky that they’ve brought me in to represent them as one of them.
How cools that? I get to be an ambassador for a company that I have known and love for a very long time. But again, because that’s a brand that I’ve been attracted to, that I’ve followed, of whom I’ve consumed the content. That’s been a really healthy relationship. There has been no expectation from my part that the people of Cloudways would connect with me any further than that natural transaction of them providing value, me consuming, getting benefit, me potentially becoming a client, me being a client and being supported on the services that I’ve purchased, etc. That all makes perfect sense. That’s a really healthy relationship to have with a brand and with its team.
Equally, it’s healthy to then have my home life with my close family and with my close friends and to not show up online and put everything there. Instead to come offline and pick up the phone and call my mum more and go for walks more and all of those really, really important things that I think social media has contributed to, frankly, my laziness when it comes to investing in all of those really important and vital relationships.
I guess, therefore, you could look at this title and think it was a little bit click baity. But let me make it super clear, I am closing down my personal accounts, I will not be coming on social media as me via any of the major platforms. When I do show up, it will be via the brands that I represent, either through a special profile for Agency Trailblazer or Event Engine or Cloudways or any other brands that I either launch or work with in the future.
I may decide to use some form of federated social media to do my own microblogging somewhere, but I’m not going to share where that is. I’m not going to publicize it and try and grow a huge following. I might do that for cathartic reasons to talk about my Tinka projects where I love to play around with Tinka boards or Raspberry Piis, all that sort of stuff. And I might do that. That’s good. That’s nice. That’s my hobby. But it’s certainly not something I’m going to be engaging with on a day to day basis where I’m going to be hyper connected to family and or friends and or a community in that kind of manner.
I just want to spend the I guess the next at least 2021 not plugged into social media all the time, not having the apps on my phone, not being a part of a big global conversation that constantly reminds me of the good, the bad and the ugly, of which I’m not sure I can always cope with. Instead, I’d like to spend this year with family, with close friends and showing up, adding real, true value to the brands that I love and that I represent.
So, folks, thanks for listening to me and hearing what I have to say, things will be slowly changing over the next few weeks and months. If you have been a Facebook friend of mine and I suddenly disappear don’t take it personally. I’ve just closed the account because I’m doing this for me and I’m moving away from personal social media and showing up for the brands.
If you are or have considered yourself a close friend, then that would probably mean you have my phone number. So I’d say call me, it’d be great to have a chat. That’s if I’ve not already called you and in fact, I know there’s a few people I’ve sent messages to. Check your phones, guys because it’d be great to have a chat. Let’s have some real life friendships. Let’s have some real life communications, let’s develop some real world interaction, let’s avoid all of that negativity and all of those distractions from social media. Let’s use social media in the right way, for our businesses in the right way, i.e., showing up as the brand and then let’s use it on a personal level completely separately.
Hey, this is kind of all selfishly for me. This is me talking to me, telling me what I need to do to sort me out. But if any of this was any help to you, please do let me know agencytrailblazer.com, Episode number 303. Let me know in the comments there, because I will see it and I will read it and I will reply as a representative of the Agency Trailblazer Brand. I’ll be there, it’d be great to see your comments. If we don’t see you in the comments, we will see you in next week’s episode.
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