On an Internet that can feel as if it's inhabited largely by belligerent know-nothings, Quora is a place where the average citizen is an intelligent, well-informed person – and where, in a Lake Wobegon–like effect, most everybody seems to be above average. If you ask a question about a particular Web start-up, odds are that you'll get one or more thoughtful replies. And it won't be the least bit startling if one of them comes from a founder of the company in question.
I experienced the same longing I feel when I read about Enlightenment salons and meetings of the like-minded. So I found the invitation to join Quora I had received from a friend and colleague, and followed the link to the site. My plan was to simply register and have a look. I would view the online sharing of new people with new ideas and if I found myself drawn to what I saw, I would participate. I would have a fresh start to join a new community in a new and thoughtful way.
I did not join Facebook or Twitter thoughtfully. I leaped in. I participated willy-nilly, accepting friend requests on Facebook from people I knew, following people on Twitter whom I knew or found interesting, finding the feeds from both of those sites increasingly populated and diverse. In both, I was connected to people I am connected to off-line – friends, family, and colleagues – and with people I've never met. One of the college professors I revered most told me, "Separate personal and professional." But that was before social networks, right? That wisdom didn't apply now, right?
Then my cat died.
She was my cat. In so many ways and for so many reasons which I have written about elsewhere, I was so deeply and profoundly attached to her. When I get hurt, emotionally or physically, I keep moving, assessing the damage as I go. It's been three months and I'm still moving. But there was damage.
I posted my grief on Facebook.
People were so kind. They posted updates to my Facebook page expressing sympathy and support. As I do, I kept moving, answering each one, trying to keep up, wanting to feel touched by their words, feeling only shock and pain and sorrow. I started to feel like a fraud, especially when trying to respond to kind words expressed by someone I knew in a business context. My heart was broken – how could I reply in a professional way? I felt so uncertain about how to tend these relationships with so many people from so many realms and to care for my own sore self that I did what I don't do. I stopped.
I want to be close and connected to people in mind and heart. I have trouble doing that casually. I have started following my professor's advice, separating personal and professional in my Facebook and Twitter updates, sharing primarily business news in both places.
But I feel called by the closeness and connection possible in a social network, just like by those Enlightenment salons. That's why I joined Quora. I wanted a fresh start, a social media do-over.
Quora somehow imported all my Twitter and Facebook contacts. "Wherever you go, there you are," writes Jon Kabat-Zinn. I stopped.
I feel called by the closeness and connection possible in a social network. I do have time for another social network. What I don't have time for, or don't want to give time to, is the struggle with the personal and professional whirlpool that my cannonball dive into social media created for me.
She Chooses is for women who want to feel deeply, think seriously, and communicate meaningfully with each other.
Women are invited to use She Chooses as they choose. I will use it to feel deeply, think seriously, and communicate meaningfully with other women. Personally rather than professionally. I'll get my social media do-over.