Social media has been on my mind a lot this week. My spouse has been out of town for work, which left me rattling around the house. I was also challenged by my step-brother to one of those “post your favorite albums” games. I played along, in my own fashion. I didn’t tag any other people, which probably defeats the purpose of the game.
Anyway, I spent a good bit more time on social media this week than I normally do. And I usually spend way too much time looking at Facebook and Twitter. With Jen traveling and my curiosity about people’s reactions to my album choices, I found myself gravitating to social media for a quick glance. And, as happens too often, it turned into reading and re-reading the same drivel over and over. Plus, it cut into my writing time. (Although I did get a few things accomplished despite falling down the rabbit hole. Just not as much as I wanted.)
I already know that being on social media has affected my attention span. I have a harder time concentrating on a reading or watching a TV show or movie than I used to. My attention span is shrinking, and that’s not a good trait for a writer.
That fact is why I completely understand why a dear friend announced she was shutting down her Facebook account this week. Frankly, I’ve given that very idea a lot of thought. And yet, I haven’t made that choice. At least, not yet.
Among my reasons for staying on Facebook is that it’s how I stay in contact with a lot of my relatives, despite the many miles that separate us. I’m also connected to several writing groups there, and a few have been helpful in getting me to set daily and weekly writing goals. More importantly, they’ve kept me accountable to those goals, and that’s key.
I keep my Twitter account because it allows me to follow writers, literary agents, actors, and other creatives. I often learn a lot from seeing what they post about their creative process, and I hear about new books, albums, and theatre productions that interest me. Twitter can be a good place to gain insight into the creative life, provided that precious block feature is engaged when trolls appear.
I’m always one bad political debate away from cutting all my social media ties. I know that many publishers and agents are interested in writers who have already built a following because it means less marketing they need to do. And self-published authors simply must have a social media presence to sell their books.
I just wish social media was easier to wield for good. Lately, too many of us—and I include myself in that group—have used it as a bludgeon for those with whom we disagree. Too often, I’m a few keystrokes away from channeling my inner Robert DeNiro and spewing profanities.