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Being social online has meaning – #037

Podcast Guest: Bridget Willard

Today on the #PressForward podcast we’re speaking with Bridget Willard. 

She’s been working with WordPress for many years and specialises in helping companies with their social media channels. She’s got an international client base and posts helpful content about how you or your company can leverage social media. Bridget also has a podcast over at WPblab which is worth checking out!

Today we cover a lot of ground. We talk about her relationship with social media, how it’s presence is being felt more and more in our lives and how we can manage this. We get into the idea that social media is a valid replacement for so many older forms of communication.

We also discuss the loss of Bridget’s husband a few years ago. How she’s coped and what she did to get through this difficult time. This led us into a chat about her journey with depression and anxiety.

So this is a trigger warning that we will be talking about depression and anxiety during this podcast.

Bridget is an energetic and enthusiastic guest and it’s a fun episode to listen to…

Interviewed by Nathan Wrigley.

We hope you enjoy the show, please do subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We’re always looking for feedback, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do reach out.

And remember… Together we can #PressForward

Podcast Details

Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to the PressForward podcast. I’m Nathan Wrigley, and I’d like to thank you for joining us again. But if this is your first time with us, I hope that you enjoy it and that you find it useful. 

We release the PressForward podcast each week and we’d love it if you’d add it to your list of podcasts, the ones that you consume regularly. You can do that by subscribing to us on your favorite podcast player. Head over to wpandup.org/podcast/feed/.

Today we’re going to be talking to Bridget Willard. But before that, let me tell you a little bit about what WP and UP do and how you can get involved. We’re a nonprofit working in the WordPress space with a mission to offer support to those who need it. This could be with your mental health or your physical health or perhaps your business or skills.

Whatever it might be, you can reach out to us. We’ve helped many people so far. Find out more by going to our homepage, wpandup.org

To function, we need to raise money. And until now, this was done via donations at the wpandup.org/donate/ page, or by buying one of the larger, more expensive sponsorship packages. A few weeks ago, we started to offer a much more bespoke, à la carte way that you can help us out.

Now you can pick and choose which areas of WP and UP you would like to sponsor. So, if putting your brand in front of thousands of live event attendees fills you with joy, you can sponsor those specifically. If you love the longevity of hearing your brand played out across the speakers, then the PressForward podcast might be for you.

Perhaps you simply want to give with no expectation in return. Well, you can donate in that way as well. Go to  wpandup.org/fund/. Thank you.

So today we’re speaking with Bridget Willard. She’s been working with WordPress for many years and specializes in helping companies with their social media channels. She’s got an international client base and posts helpful content about how you or your company can leverage social media. Bridget also has a podcast over at WPblab, which is certainly worth checking out.

We cover a lot of ground. We talk about her relationship with social media. How its presence is being felt more and more in our lives and how we can manage this. We also get into the idea that social media is a valid replacement for so many older forms of communication. 

We also discuss the loss of Bridget’s husband a few years ago. How she’s coped and what she did to get through this difficult time. This led us into a chat about her journey with depression and anxiety, so this is a trigger warning that we will be talking about depression and anxiety during the course of this podcast. 

Bridget is an energetic and enthusiastic guest. And it’s a fun episode to listen to. And so without further ado, Bridget Willard, please introduce yourself.

Bridget Willard: [00:03:54] Hi, I’m Bridget Willard and I am a social media marketer who specializes in WordPress products and services. I’m pretty opinionated and old school about how social media should be done. One of my previous taglines was “Giving unsolicited advice is 2011”. So I met Dan at WordCamp us a couple of years ago, and he told me about the nonprofit and he was like, yeah, I need some help on social.

So they’ve been my client for quite a while, but also, because I have depression, I’ve had my dark suicidal times, and I have a chronic illness, like I could clearly believe in the mission of WP and UP. And I’m a recurring donor because of it. So, giving back to those who are giving, and of course a WordPress industry. One of my friends says, tongue and cheek, “Hey WordPress, you broke it. You fix it!” So mental health in our community really matters (laughs). 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:56] Bridget mentioned that she’s old school about how she likes to do social media. Now, I could be wrong about this, but it seems like social media is still pretty young, not much more than 10 years or so. So what does she mean by old school? 

Bridget Willard: [00:05:16] Oh, that’s funny. I mean, I was gonna make a joke about the caveman and their sharing buttons, but (laughs). But social media is, be social on media. Right? But you know, I’ve been on Twitter since 2007, Twitter and Facebook. 

So, now that we have the internet 3.10 or whatever we’re on now. You have these social sharing sites, but there’s a way to do things that you —  software iterates, and sometimes the iterations are good and sometimes they’re bad. For example, the retweet button is like… I have a whole blog post about why don’t use the retweet button, because I feel like it stops conversation and it makes you part of somebody else’s statistics.

So from a branding standpoint, it’s bad, but also it stops the conversation and people will will say to each other, “Oh, I really like your hair”, and they’ll just press retweet. But in real life, you would never do that because if somebody said, “I really like your hair”, you would say, “Thank you.” And so before the retweet button existed, Twitter users came up with their own way of re-tweeting, which was copy paste with RT in front of the handle, just like the hashtag, the hashtag came from the users.

So I mean, I believe in being a polite human being on social media. And so that’s why I say I have old school values. Not just pressing buttons and automating everything, because if I wanted to have a relationship with a robot, why would I want to have friends? 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:06:51] I don’t do a lot on social media, and I think that the reason for this is that I find it quite overwhelming. What I mean by that is that there’s just so much. So many channels, so many messages, all vying for my limited attention. I heard someone the other day describe social media as akin to a landfill site. More and more keeps getting put in until eventually it’s completely full and it starts to look like a mountain.

Bridget works in social media, and so I was interested in her thoughts on how it might be considered overwhelming. 

Bridget Willard: [00:07:33] Well, I’m sure some of it’s definitely garbage. Some of it people are going to go in there and you know, reclaim it. You know, refinish. It’s going to be shabby chic, digital (laughs) furniture. It’s somebody’s house in a boutique, this really expensive, because they put some paint on it.

You know, some of it’s going to end up in an antique store. You know, I was in Texas for WordCamp Dallas, Fort Worth, and I went antiquing with my friend and client, Sarah Phillips and I found this autograph book. The dealer showed it to me and this guy from 1800 and whatever went around to all of his friends and asked them to write something about him.

I was crying. I was crying in an antique store in Fort Worth, Texas. These were real people and photographs. I mean, you want to talk about the physical version of it. You had all these photographs, you would turn them around and it had descriptions. This wasn’t stock photography. This was in somebody’s storage unit that they lost and ended up at an antique store, right? 

And it would have been normally garbage, but maybe they didn’t have relatives anymore. People moved away. And I’m looking at these photographs, and of course. My friend Sarah is just, you know, doing her own thing and it’s somewhere else in this giant warehouse and I’m sitting there rambling through these photographs, crying, going, these were real people and nobody cared about them enough to keep their photographs. 

So the reason why I became so good and have this career is because of my chronic illness, MECFS, which I’m not even going to try to pronounce, but chronic fatigue syndrome is a terrible, terrible name for it. So basically I came down with this flu, like symptoms would never end, and I didn’t even know what was going on.

Everybody was like, thyroid, thyroid, Oh, maybe you have Epstein-Barr, which I did, but there was always some trigger and then all of a sudden your body just goes into… you know, it’s on strike. It’s not going to, “Hell no. We won’t go, like, we’re not going to work anymore. Too bad, you know. Too bad you had a life and we’re done with you.”

So I would go to work, I come home, I take my dogs out and go to bed, eat dinner in bed and watch TV. And I used to be somebody who did all this stuff, right. I’m bored. TV is boring. And I interacted with humans, so you know, I was on Twitter and stuff and I’m like, Oh my gosh, look, there’s all these people I could talk to.

And all of a sudden geography doesn’t matter. And your station in life doesn’t matter. Like you’re not destined to not interact with people. You have access to all these people and all these conversations and you could build these communities. It was so exciting and I still feel that way about it. And I use that for business, but in the end, that’s what we do.

We do business with people we know, like and trust. I connected with all these different people. For different reasons. And my whole philosophy is if you invest in people, they’ll invest in you. And so I got really good at connecting with people and telling my story, and then them telling their story. And then after my husband passed away in 2016, May of 2016, I use social media as like a PR device.

So I would go on Facebook and I go, no, you guys, I’m not okay. My husband died. Like I was part of the Christian Church, and they would say, well, he’s with Jesus. I’m like, my theology is completely sound. Still not here. He’s still not here, you guys. I don’t care where he is. This isn’t about him. It’s about me, like (laughs).

So I was trying to educate people on what it feels like. You know, I was married for 23 years and even though he was much older, he was 36 years older than me. He was 79 when he died. That doesn’t matter. I was married from 20 to 43. He was my whole world, right? And we didn’t have children because I’m also infertile, you know what I mean?

Like there’s all these, like, weird facets. And so I don’t have that legacy. And I started saying, you guys, there is no proof I was ever married except for a document that shows my name change and some photos on Facebook. That’s it. So like there’s no business, there’s no house, there’s no heirs, there’s no DNA… combination of people. There’s nobody with some of my chromosomes on this planet, right? And I think that’s why those photos remind him like, what is going to happen in my photos? Nobody cares. There’s no, I mean, it’s not true, but there was that moment where you’re like, I don’t have a legacy. I have no heirs.

Nathan Wrigley: [00:12:25] I’d never really thought about social media in this way. But I think Bridget is right. The generation of children growing up are using social media to record all the things that they do in ways that were not possible just a few years ago. The book in the antique store is now a timeline of updates. The letters that were received and hidden away for the future are direct messages that you received on your phone.

It’s a real change. And an important one to recognize. Something of the old curmudgeon in me feels that perhaps we’ve lost something in this transfer from postcards, letters, and books of photos, et cetera, to posting on social media. 

Bridget Willard: [00:13:10] I mean, I still have some books, but back before digital cameras, and they were very expensive.I mean, we didn’t have a lot of pictures of, of even my grandchildren, but like if I had an iPhone when they were little, I would have these pictures because now we take all these pictures. We don’t even think, but there’s not even that many pictures of me as a child because film is expensive, you know?

Even having a 110 camera was expensive. So the fact that you have developed and paid for this to happen is special. And so I mean, like the, a lot of native Americans wouldn’t allow photography because they thought it was taking your soul. And there’s like, I think because of all of these things that have happened in my life, I have developed a much deeper sense of empathy.

And I’m very emotionally supportive of people. So, like I’m taking 10 years to answer your question, but the thing is that when my husband died, I looked around and I was like, wow, all I have are these photos. That’s all I have. So I think it’s good to take them and have them, whether you post them or not. It’s different. 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:14:23] Harking back to the past, again, celebrities and gossiping aside, the version that the world got to see of most people was the version that you presented to them in person. What I mean is that unless someone bothered to actually stand in your presence, they didn’t get to find out how you were, what you’d been doing and so on.

Nobody published a little newspaper of our recent endeavors, but now they do. Each social media post is available for inspection and critique, and to allay that critique, it’s easy to post the best version of yourself, the version that you want the world to see. Not necessarily the real version. There’s nothing really new about this, of course, but I wonder if Bridget thought that this was an issue that was growing in importance.

Bridget Willard: [00:15:17] Social media is a tool. People have always done this. They’ve always curated the image they want others to see. So people like, curate their lives and they’ve always done this and they show what they want. They show what they want you to see. Social media is just another tool for that. Now for me, I think everybody’s mess is beautiful and because I decided to be so straightforward with a lot of my grieving process, people DM me.

You know, you were saying earlier, what about the authenticity of the letter? Has that gone away? And I’m like, no, it hasn’t, because I get so many private messages every time I put something out there that I think, Oh my gosh, I should delete that right now. I get a private message either on Twitter or Facebook.

Sometimes I get a letter. After my keynote in Seattle a couple of years ago, this lady sent me a, a pillow that she made because I said the most important words in our lives are verbs, and so she made this pillow. She designed a pillow with all verbs on it. Sent me a note like a year later about how much that touched her.

Like you don’t even know. Even though I feel like I’m very open, I did not talk about being suicidal openly. I only talked about it in some private circles, like whatever, this is going on the internet, so people know now. I’m fine now, like I’m on the right antidepressants and stuff. But this last summer was terrible and I couldn’t even tell my circle of friends.

I could only tell three people. And I had to because my psychiatrist made me make a safety plan, you know, she asked me, what are three reasons for living? And most people are like my wife, my kids, you know, my dad, I couldn’t think of anything. It was terrible. So like every time I think of, I try to think of, oh, I shouldn’t say this, it gives — my vulnerability is my strength. And while I’m vulnerable, I give other people that same power to be strong in that way so that we can all be a beautiful mess together. 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:33] I’m sure that Bridget would be the first to agree that her style of using social media is not for everyone, but it works for her. She’s enormously open online and whilst keeping some things private, she shares areas that many might curate out of existence. She shares and is lucky in that her contacts respond positively to this. It’s like a help mechanism for her. 

Bridget Willard: [00:17:59] But not just that, not just help, but it helped them. And even though I feel like I’m very open and I am, I’m very open, I had a meeting with one of my mentors last night and he was like, “Bridget, you’re curating this image. And I see through it,” and I’m like, what do you mean? He goes, “Bridget, I follow you very deeply. I know what you’re saying. And I know what you’re not saying.” 

And even though I feel like I’m open, like I lose a client, gain a client, lose a client, gain a client, just like construction, you know, the internet business, whether it’s web development or social media, any kind of service work that we do. Lose a client, gain a client. Back one step. Forward two. It’s just, you do this two-step with your clients. It’s discouraging. 

And he’s like, “I know that you’re worried about your money situation and you need to just believe in yourself. You’re very good at this,” dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, and all this advice. And I’m sitting there and I’m going, wow. I feel like crying right now, but you’re not going to cry cause there was no crying at baseball. You know? And I do that, like humor is my favorite coping mechanism. I always say it’s, you’re either laughing or crying and crying gives me a headache.

But when I came home last night, I mean, I’m an introvert, I deeply think about things and I was like, wow. So — one of the things I talk about with my therapist is that I don’t feel seen. I feel loved. I feel respected. I feel admired even, but I don’t feel seen. I never feel like somebody just looks at my face and says, I see you.

But I have two or three friends that are really good about that. And then I realized with my mentor last night, I was like, wow. He sees me and I don’t know because he never comments. So we think the lurkers aren’t paying attention because we think the people that comment are the only ones paying attention.

But my grandmother’s a hundred years old and every night she talks to my aunt Patsy, you know, at five o’clock at night, and they say, what’s happening on Facebook? Which means, what is Bridget going through? She knows everything I write on Facebook. So even though she doesn’t have an account, my 70 year old aunt has an account and reads it to her. It’s just a woman who was born before the federal income tax and astronauts and cars and planes (laughs). 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:26] I’m sure that you’ve pondered this before, but it seems like social media is a double edge sword. One side is connecting us in ways that are remarkable and miraculous. We can now chat to people on the other side of the planet as if they were sitting next to us.

We can forge relationships with people in communities that would have been impossible just a few years ago, but there’s the inevitable downside too. We’re shackled to our devices for too long each day. We divert time to social media that might perhaps be better purposed towards other things. In short, social media can be addictive, and I wondered what Bridget thought about this.

Bridget Willard: [00:21:11] Yeah, I mean, obviously there’s the addiction because we love when our brain chemistry works, so you get a notification, you get a little dopamine, it starts a cycle. I deleted all my dating apps this year. I was just like, I’m so over it.

But the thing is, all of a sudden it was quiet and you’d get a whole lot of messages from people, and you have to be okay with that. Like, oh wow, this is weird. But it’s kind of good, because it’s not bugging me, but there’s an absence and we haven’t allowed our, our minds to be bored. And boredom, well, I could do a whole podcast on boredom, but the thing is we’re not allowing our minds to think. 

You know, I go to the gym specifically so I can think and clear my mind. I do not listen to podcasts. I do not listen to music separate, whatever’s on the gym. If I’m outside walking, I don’t listen to anything. I’m really like — oh, one of my nieces said, “How come you don’t want to be a part of a book club?” And I realized I read the internet all day long. I don’t want to read anymore. 

So we’re constantly consuming and then we feel like we’re alone. We’re all those kids at the bus stop. We’re alone together, but we’re choosing that. So when I go to the pub, I’m going there to not be alone. So I have my phone because I work with clients all over the world, just in case. But if there’s somebody next to me, I flip it over. Not looking at my phone, if there’s another human to talk to, you know what I mean? 

And I think that we’ve become lazy that way, and we’ve taught our children to be lazy that way. And I think, it’s a lot of, it’s Gen X’s problem is, oh, TV’s so easy. Let’s just put the TV on the car.

We don’t have to interact with each other. So you have six people in a car doing their own thing. You’re not making those memories of slug bug or these ridiculous road trip games or even opening your eyes and looking at what is outside the window. 

Like I literally told my friends on road trips, stop looking at your phone. That’s a river. That’s a river. Look, look, wait, stop, stop, stop. Look at the sun. This sunset is never going to be the same ever again. They’re so unique and we have to stop, drop and roll. Dick van Dyke used to tell us, “If you catch on fire, stop, drop and roll.” But in our lives, and it’s not the detoxing, “Oh, I’m quitting Facebook.”

It’s no, you need to have control over yourself and allow your brain to think. But we like the noise because the noise keeps us from really thinking about what’s actually going on in our own personal lives. 

What my theory is, because I’m a kind of an amateur social scientist, is that we are afraid of ourselves.

If we’re not listening to a podcast, and thanks y’all for listening, but if we’re not listening to a podcast or if we’re not listening to the radio or music, what are we listening to? Are we thinking about things? Where’s the innovation going to happen if we don’t all go to the coffee shop? You know, we’re the age of enlightenment. Where’s that next thing? 

We isolate ourselves. Even at WordPress, one of my friends, Roy Savant, used to say, you need to leave WordPress to make it better. You need to leave and then come back to make it better. And I’m like, Twitter’s my JavaScript. That’s what I bring to WordPress, right? So that’s specific for us.

But, like, if we’re not talking to people from other disciplines and we’re not deeply thinking about problems, and we’re constantly filling up our lives with sounds, we’re not building relationships with each other or with ourselves. And then all of a sudden you have this crisis of mental health because nobody even knows how to put words on the feelings that were going through or how to properly express them or whether or not it’s normal. 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:25:00] I wanted to change the direction of the conversation, and so next we moved on to talk more about Bridget’s work. She’s a freelancer, and so I asked her to explain what it is that she does. 

Bridget Willard: [00:25:15] Well, I work out of my home office because I’m in California. I’m an independent contractor, thanks to AB5 we’re not supposed to call each other freelancers, but I do work with agencies, but physically I am alone. I have a roommate, but other than that, I do work by myself at my own discretion. Everything’s async with my clients because they’re all over the world.

Kuala Lumpur, New Zealand, England, Germany, New York, Texas, you know (laughs), they’re everywhere. 

So, before I was in tech, I was a secretary for 30 years. And I’ve always worked in small offices, and the company I worked for before I worked for Thought House was a construction company. And usually it was just me and my boss and maybe not even him, and he didn’t talk to anybody.

So it was like being alone anyway. So I mean, again, it was another reason why I was glad I started using social media for the business because then I had people to talk to. But I came home to a husband and two dogs. Now, because my dogs died and my husband died, I’m like, it’s so tragic. My whole family died. 

Now I’m like, Oh, I’m just talking to myself. I need to go the pub (laughs). Like, it’s bad when you talk to yourself and then you start answering. Most intelligent people do talk aloud to walk themselves through things, so I don’t mind that, but I was like, I don’t know, Bridget, what do you think? I don’t know. This is really bad. Okay. I should probably go the pub.

But that’s the thing. I mean, that’s the whole purpose of a place like that. I used to call it a bar, but no, it’s an Irish pub I go to. It’s walking just, it’s all the same people. Sometimes I’m just… I’ll just go to the gym, or I’ll go there, or I’ll go walking at the harbor or something like that. But I do prefer to work alone anyway, because before this, I used to have to go down to the office once a week, so it’s 80% remote.

And then I had to go into the office and everybody’s sitting there in the office together, with their headphones on, listening to music. So we’re alone together. And I was finally like, why do you make me come here? And then it’s like I’m in detention. It was torture. It was worse, because at least when I’m home, I could do whatever I want.

Nobody’s complaining about me singing along to the music or being loud or whatever. But you’re sitting there with people and there are, why would you be in a room of people and they’re not talking to you? Like I’d rather be by myself. I always say, if I’m going to be alone, I prefer to be by myself. 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:28:01] As we heard earlier, Bridget lost her husband and has had to cope with living her life in a much more solitary way. She makes sure that she connects with people socially, but still has to return to an empty home. I asked her how she had managed during this time. 

Bridget Willard: [00:28:22] Well, the first year was terrible. That’s putting it lightly. But one of my really good friends, Jen Miller, called me two or three times a day, every day for a year, cause she knew what it was like cause she had also gone through that.

So and that, you know, I would cry and she would just let me cry and all that, but I still had to work. And then she’d say, “Bridget, what are you going to work on? Like what are you writing today?” You know, it’s really hard to be creative. It’s easy to do the, like, rote work. You’re just like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But being creative and having to write articles for clients, it’s pretty hard to do when you know you’re just, your brain is not working because you don’t have creativity. And that’s when I realized, okay, this has gone on for a long, long time. I need to go to the doctor and be on some kind of antidepressant.

I have to work, you know, cause it just felt like I was constantly trying to outrun an avalanche. Everything felt impossible, which isn’t me. I’m a fixer. I’m a doer. I do stuff. “Oh, this doesn’t work”, I’d do something else. It’s, that’s not my personality at all. That helped me a lot. I remember March 8th very clearly.

I woke up with ideas. March 8th 2017, very clear in my mind, and I was like, wow, this is great. Now I’m still sad sometimes, but I give myself grace. I will take a nap at 2.30. And that makes a big difference. Little 20 minute nap. If I’m not feeling it, then I will either walk or watch something on TV.

Like I said, like in order to create, you have to consume. So that’s why I don’t believe in fasting from social media. I think that’s extreme. So I’ll watch a documentary or something. I’m like, Oh wow, that’s really interesting. And then when you will have that silence in your mind, you can think, I’m like, wow, that’s just like this, you know? 

And the reason why I decided to start dating and trying to make new friends was because the documentary I watched about the snow monkeys. And the snow monkeys live in northern Japan, the macaws, and so they need each other, and every day they go down to the hot springs. 

But if you’re not part of the pack and you’re not in with the guy, then you don’t get to be in the hot springs.

If you don’t get to be in the hot springs where they’re grooming each other. Getting that oxytocin and reducing your cortisol levels, plus extra protein. And they found, they’ve done studies that the one who grooms actually has more oxytocin, the one who’s being groomed. But if you’re not part of that whole situation, then guess what? You die. 

So I was like, okay, that’s it. It’s about the snow monkeys. I have to meet new people. I have to leave this apartment. Because you get all this conflicting advice as, as a single woman. First of all, as a widow, you get so much advice. I just started saying, “Thank you,” because it ends the conversation. I don’t have to do anything, they said. I could do a whole standup routine on the ridiculousness of what people said to me.

But, as a single woman, you get so much advice like, “Oh, you don’t need a man. You should be fine by yourself and whatever. Just work on you.” What the hell does that even mean? As primates, as humans, we are social animals and we are meant to be with other people. End of story. Whether it’s having a roommate or having a partner, you know, that’s up to you. We are not meant to live in isolation, and yet we do this. And then, because of the way we work, we like to be isolated because most of us in WordPress are thinkers and engineers. 

So we need that, and heavily skewed, interview burden. So we need that alone time. And then we don’t go to meetups. We don’t do sports. We don’t meet up with other people. Nobody that you trust with your soul. And then we wonder why we have this giant mental health crisis.

Because of my illness, and I’ve been really dealing with this a lot this last 10 days, I’ve been out with people too much. And then I wake up crying in pain and I can’t move and I can’t work and I can’t do it. And so even though I’m on Cymbalta for my anxiety, which helps with my chronic fatigue syndrome, I think, okay, I’m so grateful that I’m no longer a shell of the person I was. That I’m 95% of who I was, and I can have, the quote unquote a life, a real life. 

And that’s why I started taking so many selfies, because if I ever left my apartment, it was amazing. And it was proof of life to me. So people say, “Why do you take so many selfies?” I’m like, “Because that day I was okay.” And so you take all these selfies, she looks so happy. I don’t take selfies where I’m crying in bed, you know? I mean, so yeah, it’s curated, but I will tell people, I’m like, I’m down for the count. I’m down for the count and this is why I had to be a freelancer. I can’t, me personally, I cannot physically do the work that I’ve qualified to do and then being stuck in an office from some archaic reason that you want to control my time for 40 hours a week.

When I can do the work whenever I want I’ve always been faster. Even as a teenager, of a going in office work, I would replace two or three people routinely because I’m so good and so fast at what I do. I knew I had to change from charging for my time to charging for the work and I can’t sell my time. So it’s still a reality for me, Nathan. Like I still have to choose and limit how much I’m with humans in person, and that’s why I value the online communities we have so greatly. 

Nathan Wrigley: [00:34:21] If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that you’ve logged into your social media accounts and started to interact and then suddenly 20, 30, 40 minutes have gone by. After the fact, I berate myself about this quote unquote, waste of time. Bridget though has a different take on this and one that I rather like. 

Bridget Willard: [00:34:45] If you leave the house to go put your bins away or take the trash to the bin. I use banks. I know that’s what y’all call it, but the Americans, and when I take my trash out to the trashcan, the neighbor’s going to be like, outside, and they’re going to talk to you.

And you can quote unquote waste time. We are meant to be social. This guilt about being on social media is ridiculous. Small talk is valuable because small talk is the secure credit card of relationships. It allows us to build trust with one another so that we can have those opportunities to talk about things at a greater detail when the need arises.

How are we wasting time? Like there’s this obsession with productivity, right? I’ll sit on my balcony and I’m looking up at these crows. They’re not quote unquote doing anything, but they are. They’re being vigilant. And then all of a sudden they go [imitates bird call]. You know, and crows are one of the smartest birds. They’re very social.

And so you’re sitting there, you know, they’re looking for food or whatever, but I’ve sat out there and watched this crow on a telephone pole for 20 minutes. You know, there’s nobody saying, “Hey, why aren’t you working? I’m doing the four hour work week like Tim Ferris.” Oh, okay. Well congratulations. And then you have Gary Vaynerchuk saying, “You guys are wasting your lives on Game of Thrones, and then you’d wonder why you’re not successful.”

And there’s gotta be something in between. You know, there is no dream without the work. You do need to do the work, but we need quiet times. We need times to talk to other people.

Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:46] One of the purposes of the PressForward podcast is to lift the lid on topics that don’t get talked about often enough. To allow people to share their stories so that others may listen, and by listening, they may gain an understanding that they’re not alone. 

There are other people out there who have faced the same situations that you are facing. They have found a way through and can offer support to you on your journey. Maybe that person is already in your life, but they might not be. And that’s what WP and UP is here for, to connect you with the support that you need. So, if you are able to, please help us so that we can continue to support the WordPress community. You can donate at wpandup.org/donate/.

That’s it for this week. Please let us know if you’re enjoying the podcast. If you’re finding it useful and helpful, you can reach out to us at wpandup.org/contact/. There’s a serious point to all of this though, and that is that WP and UP is here to provide help and support. That help is available for you or the people that you know and can be easily accessed at the wpandup.org website. 

Please spread the word about this podcast, tell your friends and subscribe on your favorite podcast player. And remember that together we can #PressForward.

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