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The conundrum of social media

It seems to me that the distractions of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all the other social media sites are really interrupting the daily flow of our lives.   And I don’t know if that is a good thing.

There is little doubt that these are wonderful new ways for us to communicate with each other and make new “friends” and contacts;  for those of us who “follow” – they are often enormously entertaining, sometimes even enlightening.

But, it seems to me that they are becoming such a distraction that they are taking us away from the serious writing we should be doing.  Indeed some of my authors spend so much of their time on social media – to promote their work or for other reasons – that they complain they have no time left to write their books.

I found this article by Matthew Dicks in The Huffington Post last Thursday and thought it was relevant as it speaks about those things that keep us away from our writing and how many of us have trouble overcoming them: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-dicks/when-do-i-write-in-the-cr_b_2775893.html?utm_hp_ref=books

Indeed, I am almost afraid of the potential addiction of social media knowing that many of my colleagues spend so much time on it.  There’s a fine line between using social media wisely and abusing it to the exclusion of our more important work and it’s one I struggle with as much as everyone else.

I wonder what you think of all this?  Has social media taken over your life?  Do you feel you are drowning in it?  Or, do you want to spend all of your time chatting  with your “friends” and “tweeting”?

12 Responses to The conundrum of social media

  1. jeffo says:

    For me, ‘social media’ is mostly reading and responding to author blogs and participating in the largely-excellent forum over at Absolute Write. No twitter, no Pinterest, no Linked In, and not a huge amount of time spent on Facebook. And it’s still too much time.

    And I question how effective an author’s activity in social media is in boosting sales. I think too many people are misguided in their assessment of how influential it is for the average writer.

  2. Pingback: Where’s Your Audience? | B: Social. Smart.

  3. Joelle says:

    I have found that the most damage is to my attention span. I used to read for hours straight without another thought, and now I seem to need to check my email every hour or so. I’m conciously moving away from that, though. I don’t do FB and have Twitter splurges instead of being on there all the time. I update my blog when I have something to say, and I’m filling my life with more important things like music and family and friends. I shut my computer down in the early evening, most of the time, too. It’s surprisingly scary how I’ve had to consciously make these changes, though.

  4. Andrea says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m so relieved I’m not the only one who’d rather have her favorite authors spend time writing books than writing the next blog post or tweet.

    At the end of last year, I started getting frustrated with not having enough time to write and read (books), and I realized that I could win a lot of time if I wasn’t on Facebook, Twitter, writers’ fora, YouTube and blogs so often. And it scares me a bit that I often have to make a conscious effort to turn off the internet on my laptop and actually start working on my stories.

    Unlike the author of the article mentioned above, I cannot write whenever or wherever I can, which is why I don’t have children, for example. I need quiet time and a quiet place, not just to write, but to live and breathe. Social media, and the internet in general, interrupt that quiet time, and I try to use them in moderation.

  5. David says:

    “Where ideas are concerned, America can be counted on doing one of two things: take a good idea and run it completely into the ground, or take a bad idea and run it completely into the ground.”
    George Carlin.
    This sums up my feeling about social media. It was a good idea, and it has become a source of terror. It can be a useful tool, but this tool can also hurt you when used improperly.

  6. D.C. DaCosta says:

    All good comments.
    The circumstances of my life are such that social media is a godsend in keeping me in touch with people (from relatives to folks like yourselves, strangers who share a common interest)…otherwise I would be a recluse.
    OTHO, it is undoubted an interruption, a time-waster, and tends to shortent the attention span.

  7. Emily says:

    I find the whole thing overwhelming. For example, I do not use FB because it is time consuming and when I do log on, I find the interface has changed. Which requires a whole new learning curve for me.

    I do use Google alerts — to receive news clips about cats — I have a neighborhood cat blog for lost and found pets. A reminded in my Outlook ‘tasks’ function pops up once a week telling me to look at the clips, find an interesting topic, write and post a quick blurb. it takes me between 2 to 3 hours to do that simple task and I’m working on reducing the time to no more than one hour.

    The trick for me is keeping a weekly ‘task reminder’ in place to tell me to post to cats, or check goodreads, etc.

    I work to Tame the Beast by staying with simple once a week tasks that serve ME — as opposed to the universe at large.

    easy to say, hard to do.

  8. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    Well, the only thing I made by way of a New Year’s resolution this year was a vow to stop posting comments on agency blogs where I don’t have any queries in play, and you had to go bring this up again…Social media is little more than crack cocaine for mind, which as the posts here show, mostly just wastes a LOT of time. (I beleive I made this point on this site before, come to think of it) Like Jonathon Franzen, I don’t allow an e-portal within a hundred yards of my writing space, and don’t own a smart phone. My cell is a Motorola from a decade ago for voicemail and phone purposes only; this isn’t because I’m anti-tech-I allow myself one hour a day to waste time online at the public library, (hence this posting)but more like the way an aspiring Olympic athlete had better steer clear of Carl’s Jr. if he wants to ever get anywhere. I’m sorry if your social media habit is getting to be a problem,Jane-fortunately, I’m too much of a gentleman to say I told you so………

  9. Lisa says:

    I’ve worked in community engagement for over a decade now and have noticed that people seem to forget the everyday rules of relationship-building when it comes to their online communities.

    For example, you wouldn’t call a friend just to tell them what you’re eating for breakfast or stand in the middle of a cocktail party shouting your business ideas to everyone. Would you? We know better when it comes to real life interactions, so why do we forget this when it comes to our online activities?

    I agree with the replies above. Social media at its worst can be addictive, it can lead us down a path to becoming deaf to the real world outside our mobile device, and it can serve as a barrier to putting pen to paper. However, in today’s technologically advanced world, it seems to be a necessary part of the process.

    I think Joelle’s comment above sums it up nicely: Post when you have something to say. In the end, social media is a tool to develop relationships, so acting in an organic and real way, will serve you well.

  10. Siri Kirpal Kaur Khalsa says:

    No facebook. No twitter. I do post here from time to time. I allow myself a couple of runs on Absolute Write a couple of times a day. And email, of course.

    I felt email was God’s gift, as it allowed me to connect better with friends who nearly all lived more than an hour away. And it allowed me to do organization volunteer work without the hassle of phoning, which I personally dislike.

    More than that though, and the writing suffers. I’m of the opinion that writers are meant to write.

  11. EDWARD says:

    All good comments. As Billy Joel once famously asked, “Man, what what are you doing here?”
    Tolstoy has a story about a man who wins a prize where where every parcel of land on a very large island he circles, he gets to keep. The man starts running, and as he comes across interesting pieces of terrain, he widens his circle to include them. He sees a bit of shrubbery he wants, a waterfall, a lake, a beach; each exotic tidbit he spies, he expands his jog because he must own it. He spies much and makes his circle all the larger because he wants everything he sees. At the end of the story, the runner drops dead of a heart attack.
    Tolstoy, as Emily above, both extol the virtue of self-discipline. I would also ask literary agents everywhere to stop asking for too much. Much too much. There are only so many hours in a day, so many years in a lifetime. The more time an author spends perfecting his ‘brand’ and making it world famous on social media, the less time (as Jane astutely perceives) he has to write the great books which the world will notice. In the end, he spends his time always typing and never writing. Any writer who has the rare ability to keep the average reader away from distractions and reading the book he wrote should drop the unnecessary obsession with FB and let the world come to him. I apologize to all the bankers I am sure I have offended.

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