Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Sandi Amorello has been a widow since 2002, the mother of three children since 1998, and a Girl Scout Dropout since 1971. In addition to these impressive credentials, she is also a humorist, artist, speaker, and author of the recently released book, The Irreverent Widow: Shockingly true tales of love, death and dating…with children in tow.
An admittedly reluctant "life transition expert," Sandi’s own passion lies in helping women get “unstuck” and tap into their inner rebel—infusing their lives with passion, creativity and fearlessness. She envisions, creates and manages projects that delight and support women—such as The Irreverent Widow Project and Girl Scout Dropout. Using her videos, books, workshops, coaching sessions & creative presentations, she proudly provides a safe and quirky haven for those who are unilaterally averse to uniforms, serious book clubs (where they actually read the book), and support groups.
Sandi has a BFA in illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, a Ph.D. in widowhood, and currently lives in Maine in a vintage house by the sea with her three wondrous, witty children, two cats, and a dwarf Belgian bunny.
Social media facades, boycotting Twitter, and match.com
As with most of my interviews, what you'll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.
What was your first experience with social media?
"Before I even got on Twitter, I think my first social media experience was being on match.com (laughs). That was the first time I realized how much I loved writing all of these exchanges with people. So, that was a lot of fun. The really cool part was, I wasn't ready to actually date, so having that buffer, that wall, really turned out to be a good thing. It gave me this safety zone where I could exchange a lot of information with people without actually having to be in front of someone. You're able to kind of hide in a way. For me, that was really comfortable at the time. This allowed me to slowly start dating after Drew died."
"I just realized that my ten year 'match.com anniversary' is Labor Day weekend. I should really be throwing a party or something."
"I was kind of at the cutting edge, the beginning, of Twitter. Someone who had been looking at my website told me that I needed to get on 'this Twitter thing' because I was good at doing little one line exchanges. They thought I would have a great time with it, and I did."
"I've been on and off of Twitter. I've used it heavily at times, and there have also been times that I've backed away from social media altogether. I have a great time using it, which is really the problem. It's so much fun that it can really consume me. Some people feel like it's a chore to use Twitter, but for me it's just the opposite. I've found myself having to take a step back from it on several occasions. It's been a great way to connect with different people from all over the country and around the world. I've loved that part. I never would have reached those people if it wasn't for Twitter."
What do you like about social media?
"I really love doing the in-person thing more than having the social media 'wall' in place, but social media has definitely been the path to connect with people initially. It's enabled me to meet people who I might never have crossed paths with otherwise."
"I think that Facebook is much more intimate and PG vs. Twitter. On Twitter almost anything goes. With my Irreverent Widow Facebook page, everyone is there for the same reason(s)—grieving and widowhood—and we're able to exchange a lot of meaningful information. I think it would be difficult for the same types of conversations to take place on Twitter. It's difficult to be super-meaningful on Twitter."
"I've definitely had a love-hate relationship with social media. I think it depends on what I'm doing with my work and how excited I am about what I'm doing. If I don't have a lot of stuff going on professionally then I feel like I'm wasting time on the Internet and should be out in the real world. Ultimately, connecting with people on an intimate level, in person, is what's really important to me."
What do you dislike about social media?
"My biggest dislike, and I realize I'm not the first person to say this, is that I really think it can cause depression in people. So much comparing goes on and it's completely unrealistic. My biggest pet peeve is that so many people put up this false, 'my life is perfect and wonderful and happy' facade. I don't understand the need to do this. I write things like, "I'm having a really crappy day," -or- "there's a policeman in my kitchen." I write things like that because that's what makes you real and allows people to connect with you. That's what my book is all about. It's about saying things that lots of people think but are too afraid to say."
"I've had friends who have stopped using social media because they were feeling really down. They felt like their lives didn't measure up to other peoples' lives. Even though they knew logically that other peoples' lives can't be perfect, by looking at that stuff all day on Facebook, it was making them depressed. You know? Please."
"The other thing I don't like, that really irks me on a personal level, is when people are tweeting during important life experiences instead of just being present. Like tweeting from the hospital when your wife is giving birth, or when you're at someone's wedding. How can you really be present during those moments and tweet or post at the same time?"
"I often ask myself, 'If social media were around at the time, would Drew have spent one minute using it once he knew he had a limited time to live?' This always makes me think that none of us really know how much time we have. How do I want to spend whatever time I might have left? These are the questions that really make me reconsider my social media use sometimes. This is what helps me keep social media in perspective."
What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?
"I did disconnect from Twitter for at least a couple of years at one point. Right now I believe that I could disconnect from Twitter again fairly easily. Although, I do believe that Twitter is the most important social media business tool. I have too much fun on Facebook to think about disconnecting for six months. I mean, I could go off for a month without going into withdrawal, but I really do enjoy using it. Six months would be difficult. Facebook is much more personal for me. I don't think of it as a business tool."
"My daughter has been off of Facebook for years and I really support her in that. Maybe someday I'll truly be able to be in solidarity with her."
"I'm currently back on more of the love side of my love-hate relationship with social media. I'm in a good, healthy, balanced place so it's hard for me to imagine giving it up altogether right now."
If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?
"Addictive. Fun. Illusory."
Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?
"Whenever I think someone is using the medium 'well,'it's because they're being engaging and entertaining. They're also sharing information that is of some value. Being generous. Not just selling things. For instance, @ThePioneerWoman shares recipes and such, but it took me a while to realize that she actually writes cookbooks! I just like her style. I find her amusing and informative and generous. A great combo in my opinion."
I want to thank Sandi for taking the time to talk with me about her opinions on, and experience with, social media.
You can find Sandi on Facebook at: sandi.amorello
You can find The Irreverent Widow on Facebook at: The-Irreverent-Widow
You can find Sandi on Twitter at: @sandiamorello
Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.
Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).
Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg
His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).