My friend Sandi is the textbook definition of a choleric, extroverted personality. She’s fabulous, really. I mean who else would give you stuffed unicorn slippers as an after-Christmas present, just to make you happy? (Seriously, these are the best slippers I’ve ever put on my cold little feet.)
Sandi has a magical way of thinking about marketing too, having created this pretty thing thing called Marketing Tic-Tac-Toe, as part of her ideas about organic marketing. She’s hugely successful when marketing her own projects, and does a fantastic job teaching others how to do it themselves. She and Al, her business partner, are pretty much genius-level good in this area, in particular when it comes to social media marketing.
And this morning she really pissed me off.
I brought it on myself. I posted a challenge on my Words Girl page, encouraging readers to choose one photo from the recently released NY Public Library photo archives (if you haven’t seen them, stop reading and go there now. The images are amazing.), saying I would use that as inspiration for a blog post.
For me the challenge was about finding writing prompts anywhere, and letting them unleash a few hundred words of creativity.
Now, because Sandi is so magical, she’s created a world we refer to as SandiLand. And in SandiLand, the rules are only guidelines, and guidelines are for sissies. Instead of choosing a library image, she posted a few of her own, taken in Ireland almost five years ago.
One was a rather unflattering shot of me in what I always remembered as a lovely moment in time. Sandi, Ellen and I had just run into a little tea room in Dublin to wait out an afternoon shower, indulging in champagne and scones. Perfection. At least it was, until I saw that photo. The details I didn’t remember – the dark circles under my eyes thanks to jet lag and too much Celtic craic; the fact that when it rains we all sit around and watch my wild hair grow to three times its normal size; the travel-worn clothing I was wearing – are now a very real part of what was a lovely memory in which I remember myself as glowing, stunning and lovely.
The second shot was taken in a dressing room of this funky little dress shop near Sligo. I saw the dress in the shop window as we drove by on the bus, ran in when we stopped for lunch, and ending up buying the white and green version. It’s one of my favorite dresses ever. I put it on when I want to feel glowing, stunning and lovely. It works.
When Sandi first posted these photos, I got mad. Those were private moments…and who said she could do that? Those are pictures of ME, in unguarded, private moments (in a dressing room), and I didn’t consent to having those made public. I didn’t even know they existed. Who knew Anne Hathaway and I share the same struggle, but it’s real.
As I gave it more thought, I realized she was doing what Sandi does really well…pushing me further in my marketing than I’d be comfortable with on my own. So challenge taken. Here’s your post, Sandi, as promised. Still, it makes me wonder what remains private anymore? Where is the line? IS there still a line? And what does that mean for our overall happiness?
Ayn Rand had some prophetic thoughts on what she called “promiscuous sharing,” speaking as Howard Roark in the Fountainhead.
“Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched. The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing. But now we are taught to throw everything within us into public light and common pawing. To find joy in meeting halls.”
As we increasingly live our lives unmasked, unfiltered and wide open, often without our consent, what do we stand to lose? Is it worth the trade-off for temporary social fame and a giant list of followers? For some, I think it might be. For me, proably not.
Sandi, thank you for making me think this morning, and pushing me to reach further. And you’re no longer allowed in the dressing room, unicorn slippers or not.