Social Butterflies: Settling, surfing and sofalising

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching and evaluation of where my future is heading, what I want next in life and how I’m going to achieve it. When talking about my hopes and dreams both personal and professional, I often quote Carrie Bradshaw, in Sex in the City, who says:

“Some people are settling down, some people are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”

And, I am absolutely one of those people who refuses to settle!

To look forward you have to look back, take a deep breath and turn to face the exciting, if not somewhat daunting, proposition of a world unknown. But do you know what? That’s the best bit because when you say, ‘You know what? I will!’, great things can happen.

“I’m a connector, a communicator and I crave conversation.”

So, what’s next for me? A pursuit of all things digital and social from a communication perspective. I’m taking myself on an adventure where I’ll not settle for anything less than butterflies and wherever my surfing takes me, I’ll ride each wave as it comes. But before I look forward, here’s a brief history of how I discovered my passion and what made me the social butterfly I am today.

How it all began…

In 1985 I was introduced by my Dad, to the Amstrad 664 and a manual with code that you could use to make thrilling games including, my favourite, ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?’. I was only 5 years old at the time, so this was very cool and kept me entertained for hours. A year later, my little sister was keen to get in on the act but instead of putting a floppy disk in the drive she poked a piece of my little brother’s Lego in there instead. One trip to the PC store to be repaired later, followed by a fire that burnt the store to the ground, and our 664 was no more. Cue sad face 😦

I dabbled with the Apple Macintosh in secondary school circa 1992, writing essays on screens of black with green text. This was a time when forgetting to ‘Save’ before you did anything else meant losing everything you’d written and starting over again. In 1995 I had a few ‘Computer lessons’ once a week learning how to use excel and then finally in 1997, in my college days, I discovered something wonderful called ‘The Internet‘!

Once I’d convinced my mum to get AOL at home, I was up and running in no time discovering what the Friends AOL Keyword meant, how I could talk to people in other countries instantly on forums at any time of day and how to rack up a £400 internet bill in a month! When you sat up every night till 4am surfing the web with a very slow and noisy dial-up connection this was very easy to do! Being 17, my saturday job wages from New Look didn’t really cover the costs so, my mum paid the bill quite rightly insisted that from now on, I could spend just a few hours online a day.

*****

But let’s step back a moment here, something monumental in my digital history here. It was at this moment that I started to realise the possibilities of the Internet as a way to breakdown boundaries of the world that I knew and… I had butterflies!

*****

One year later, I was at university and suddenly having an email address was very cool. Remembering your password so you could check your messages was an important part of this whole concept which, unfortunately, took me a little while longer to grasp. It also saw the evolution of a very cutesy email into something that was deemed quite something else by my Corsican lecturer and gave me a little reality check on my personal brand identity; something I would really bring into play a decade later, with the creation of Steph’s Bubble. So here’s what happened:

The Email Address Evolution

  • Stephy@hotmail.com
    The original, innocent and logical choice of ‘Stephy’
  • StephyB@hotmail.com
    The letter ‘B’ was added to reflect the first initial of my surname
  • StephyBaby@hotmail.com
    Adding ‘Baby’ seemed cool at the time as I was still quite a Spice Girl fan
  • StephyBabyOhYeah@hotmail.com
    The nail in the coffin of my innocence was when my best friend thought that adding ‘Oh Yeah’ after my ‘Spice Girl’ name, it would make me a pop star

But I digress. While the story of StephyBabyOhYeah was taking place, I was learning to embrace email; a new form of communication. Much like receiving a letter from a pen pal as a child, I loved it when my email messages got replies and when I received an email from someone for the first time… It gave me butterflies!

Over the next few years my passion for surfing grew and like everyone else, I spent a lot of time just browsing around the Internet uncovering its potential. But it wasn’t until 2005 and the age of Facebook. That’s when things really got interesting. Too scared to use my shiny new laptop to surf the net for fear of ‘something’, I’m not quite sure what, terrible happening, I would visit my local Internet cafe daily and pay £1 per hour to delve into a world of ‘poking’, ‘sheep throwing’ and reconnecting with people I’d forgotten existed. On reflection, it makes me squirm a little when I say that I actually used to get butterflies when I saw that someone had ‘thrown a sheep’ at me. Why did I get butterflies? Perhaps it was because they were connecting with me on a virtual level or because the person at the other end wanted to engage with me and the internet makes that happen. Both of which, incidentally, are pretty magical in their own unique way.

“She has a complete inability to switch off from people” – A close friend, talking about me

My addiction to Facebook quite quickly became apparent in all aspects of my life: home, work and mobile and by 2010 I had decided that I had far too much to say to my friends alone and I need to branch out. I was fundraising for my half marathon event and wanted to create awareness for my cause without spamming my Facebook wall. How would I do this? I’d create my first Facebook page ‘Butterflies and Daffodils‘ . I had a small following of about 50 fans but I loved the idea of having my own page and the opportunities to learn about social media and human behaviour. The psychology of it all appealed to me as a marketer and a connector.When the race was over, I created my very own Facebook brand page! ‘Steph’s Bubble‘.

By now I was connected to the internet from home, which gave me plenty of time to explore and experiment with my new page. But what would it be for? I had no idea. And that was the best part of it all. Unlike every other successful page that had a clear mission or purpose, I wanted Steph’s Bubble to be free to be an expression of my thoughts, a space to share cool stuff and discover what others loved about social media too.

Now, in the age of ‘Sofalising‘, as my lovely friend Sandy (@S_Wongle), so aptly calls it, Steph’s Bubble has now evolved and joined the realms of Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram too. With each face giving me a new type of audience, a new way to connect and a new way to explore myself and others.

So, that’s the story of how I discovered my passion and how, as a literal social butterfly, I have now become a digital social butterfly. I don’t think I was ever really a caterpillar 😉 Do you? Either way, I will refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies where ever the ride takes me because…

That feeling of butterflies every time I discover something new, something magical, something digital. That’s the feeling that energises me and makes me the person I am today. 

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2 thoughts on “Social Butterflies: Settling, surfing and sofalising

  1. Neil says:

    Your emotion towards people was recognized by your little brother as we watch ‘Word e’ and helped on the team players in knightmare.

    Your turning point for me was when I picked up a book in the local library probably around 1987…… After reading carefully I realised that asking for a roll of toilet paper was historically funny and you realised an opportunity for communication with THE PLANET!

    PS

    Still no fan of apple, still can’t find magic telephone on 5.5 floppy disc.

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