Kimli Welsh knows from experience that social anxiety can really get in the way of living one’s life to the fullest. On May 7, at the Northern Voice conference at the University of British Columbia, she’ll speak about how social media has helped her deal with her fear of social situations.
Born in Montreal, Welsh is a 35-year-old blogger, social-media enthusiast, and gamer who lives in East Vancouver. The Camosun College graduate posts almost every day on her personal blog, DeliciousJuice.com. She makes her living as a technical writer at Radiant Communications, a Vancouver-based company that provides data-communications and cloud-computing services to businesses.
The Georgia Straight reached Welsh by phone at work.
What makes you a geek?
I absolutely love technology—anything to do with it, especially gadgets. I’m quite shameless when it comes to gadgets. Video games, in particular, I have a very soft spot for. You know, I’ve been a gamer for a number of years—since ’92, I’d say—and it’s a really big part of my life, to the extent that I met my husband at a LAN party and we play a lot of video games.
On the other side of things, I’ve been involved in Internet communities since about 1990—back when they started as BBSes going to the early stages of the Internet and then IRC and then now using things like Twitter and Facebook to interact with people in my community.
What made you realize you are affected by social anxiety?
It was when I realized I was actually skipping events by coming up with excuses of, “Oh, it’ll just be too much of a hassle to go.” It’s when I kind of realized that, you know, what’s a hassle of going? You know, putting on pants and heading out the door? There’s not much of a hassle to it, so why was I routinely turning down events because of silly excuses that I brought up? It kind of made me look into it a little bit and realize that—you know what?—I’m not lazy. I’m afraid of people.
How has social media helped you overcome social anxiety?
I find that the more people I meet and the closer I get to some people in the community, the easier it is for me to get out doing things. I meet these people on Twitter, and it gets to a point where we have enough conversations on-line, and we decide—you know what?—we should actually meet in person. So, having that as an excuse to get out of the house, it helps me leave the house. It gives me a reason to get out. Then, once I connect with these people, we become friends, and then they act as my safety net when we go out to other events.
So, one of the big parts about my presentation is going to be that, by going out to an event or two, you start to build a network or, in my case, a safety net. So, whereas before I had to have at least my best friend with me the entire time I was there, now if I’m in a room with 100 people and I know 10 of them, that’s better than knowing just the one person.
How do you think blogging can help other people with social anxiety?
I think it’s just making a voice for yourself—not so much as getting your name out there but sharing opinions and thoughts with other people without having to do it in a face-to-face or intimate setting. It’s a little more freeing to do from behind a computer screen. Once you’ve kind of established a voice for yourself and you’ve got people who are kind of interested in what you have to say, then it makes it a little bit easier to meet them because you know that they appreciate what you have to say.
Why do you call your blog Delicious Juice?
My blog actually started out under my on-line name, Deeay.com, and I decided I didn’t want to have my own name as my domain. I use a tagline on all my bios, which is “squeeze my head for delicious juice”, and that just stuck out in my head, so I decided that I would call it Delicious Juice and run with it.
What makes your blog “unapologetically inappropriate”?
Because it is exactly that. I actually don’t hold anything back—not so much in an opinion stance. Some people can say I’ve got strong opinions, which I do, but I think for my blog it’s extremely personal. I will share absolutely everything. I don’t have that inner filter that says maybe I shouldn’t put this information on the Internet. I don’t care. If it’s happening to me and I find it interesting in the least, then I’m going to share it on-line. That affects people like, unfortunately, my husband, who’s not sometimes all that happy about what I put on-line. But I don’t have an inner filter that says maybe this wouldn’t be a good idea.
What are your favourite video games right now?
Right now, BioShock 2. It’s kind of what I’m playing. I’m also playing the newest Pokémon, just because I need something to do when I get tired of my iPhone video games. When it comes to video games, I’m really kind of stuck in 2002-2004—around that timeframe. You know, some of my on-line favourites: Quake III, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Enemy Territory. Then, on consoles: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and Katamari Damacy and Jet Set Radio Future and Beyond Good & Evil. So, I’m kind of stuck in that timeframe. Those are still my favourite games.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.