Social Media, Unrequited

I spent a very¬†educational evening tonight at the Talk Is Cheap “unconference” on Social Media, held at Centennial College‘s slightly inaccessible Carlaw campus, the Centre for Creative Communications. It was a free event that brought together around 200 people, mostly public relations and corporate communications practitioners. As such, it wasn’t directly related to my job, but for someone who’s desperately trying to advocate “social media” and “Web 2.0” stuff at PricewaterhouseCoopers, it was food for my soul. Not so much in terms of content, though, as I’d have to say I probably know more about these issues than most of the people in attendance. My problem is that I’ve never held a career position that allowed me to actually apply all this knowledge. And so my passion for blogs and the like has largely gone unrequited throughout the course of my professional career(s).

This became apparent as I listened to several very good speakers, like Joe Thornley and Michael O’Connor Clarke, both of Thornley Fallis (whose employees actually communicate with me regularly in their capacity as PR agents for ThinkFilm, whose films I review for Toronto Screen Shots. Small world sometimes.) Thornley Fallis is a small Canadian public relations firm who have made great use of social media and established a reputation as leaders in helping their clients apply that knowledge. I found myself envious of working in an environment like that, and thought, perhaps foolishly, that maybe I should be working in public relations instead. But I can clearly see that my apparent zigs and zags, career-wise, are attempts to find that ideal environment where I can apply my skills and passions to the fullest while still making a decent amount of money. While I’m not going to be hasty, maybe I should examine whether my skills and experience as a web-savvy writer might be better applied in a field that is embracing social media.

While I can foresee that PwC might call upon my experience in a limited way, it’s a large firm. So large that even after several months, I still feel like I’m learning what they do. It also feels very decentralized and finding the right person to talk to takes a fair amount of work. I haven’t been there long enough to have a truly informed opinion, but my initial impression is that they’re using cumbersome and limiting technology to publish their web site. As well, they’ve separated my job function from the actual coding of web pages, so that I’m working only in Microsoft Word, writing content that someone else will mark up. So it may be too soon to tell if PwC will be a long-term home for me, or if I just have a perennially roving eye. I’m trying to get some insight into myself, anyway, and tonight was useful.

Out of Body Autoreply

Wow. For the past two days, I’ve been keenly aware of a feeling of disconnection between my mind and my body. It’s been quite a long time since I felt it this strongly, but I know that there are a number of factors that are causing me to feel this way. I began a new job just over two months ago. From working in a small and casual office environment, I’ve moved to a large and rather impersonal corporate office. New clothes, new space, new people (and lots of them). Sometimes I feel like I’m just carried along on the tide of people during the morning and evening rushes, or at lunch in the cavernous “food court”¬Ě. As well, I just returned from a week’s holiday in Cuba, a place where it would be very difficult indeed to separate your mind and body, for a variety of reasons. Coming home with a flu bug has only increased this feeling of my mind floating above my body like a balloon in a hazy sky. And I think the cold weather and early darkness also make it easier to forget about having a physical presence in the world.

I’m going to check out the local YMCA in the next few weeks and will probably join. It has a running track and is closer to my new job than the University of Toronto Athletic Centre where I usually run in winter. I’m realizing that I need this physical activity for more than just physical health. I think that running will help me to reverse this feeling of unraveling. I hope so, because it’s really beginning to creep me out.