First of all, this has been wearing on me. Former facebook exec says, you are being programmed. Here’s that article.
I took a couple of days off. I didn’t avoid social media completely, but I tried to. I posted a couple of links to my writing, to my books on Amazon. After a while I remembered this meme, “Weapons of Mass Distraction” with the social icon links on it.
I know exactly when I was first aware of one of these memes, because someone posted one on facebook in 2013 and tagged me in the post. That was five years ago.
I noticed something when I was setting up my new Pinterest page, that is now gone, again, as is my tumblr page, abandon profiles. On every social media site, abandoned profiles. On sites where such information is visible, you can see that someone hasn’t actively participated in however long. A year, two years, Pinterest boards untouched for three years, just there. On one hand, perhaps someone finds such a thing, if you’re a writer, or what have you, and it leads them to your work. I am still on the fence about Pinterest. ( I’ve gotten some pretty good ideas from Pinterest plus I found these super amazing printed lounge pants that I probably need. I also need them to be about thirty-five dollars max because I happen to think that’s a lot of money for a pair of lounge pants that I will never leave my house in.) But on the other hand, there was something about it that kind of bothered me, the abandoned profiles. I realized that they matched the migratory patterns of social media over the last five years or so. A new site comes online, everyone goes to check it out, a few people stay with it, but the masses move on to the next thing, and they leave their profile behind. Just in case. My G+ still exists “just in case”, just to have a back-up if facebook finally implodes.
There’s something about that, the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t sit well with me. Sure, ostensibly you’re trying to reach as large an audience as possible. Or are you? I think there are folks who are geared towards that, as in they are really working hard at it all the time, making a conscious effort at it, and for some, that yields results. I’ve seen some go at building their following like consummate politicians, real movers and shakers who are actively going after whatever goal it is, making every potentially advantageous connection they can, their friend count sometimes quickly sailing towards the five thousand limit on facebook. ( I’ve also seen some people go from hard-working towards their goal, to being nothing less than completely smarmy, while engaging in the most shallow displays of blatant soul selling, which is something that I want nothing to do with.) I’ve seen others who are just doing their own thing, not quite going for the “hard-sell”, but just consistently producing good work, and their following has grown just as large. There’s nothing wrong with either approach if you’re being true to who you are. That is the key, being true to yourself. What works for one person, isn’t going to work for another. There isn’t a “one size fits all” business plan for some things. I’m not ever going to be the person out there pushing the “hard sell” and, metaphorically, hand-shaking all over the place, constantly trying to “win” anyone over in that regard. I want to do my work, and here it is, if you enjoy it, I hope you’ll buy my books or read more of it, and keep reading it, and that’s about it. Meaning, I’m not interested in trying to sell you on some package deal of existence in the wonderful world of “Teri” as in, I’m not looking to be Martha Stewart, and these are the towels I use and the dishes I want, and etc. My opinion, that’s something of a monster that the internet has created that isn’t necessarily a good thing, the writer as social animal. Writing is generally a singular, solitary, activity. Writers are, or have been, historically, generally known for being somewhat mercurial, living in their own imaginations to some degree, being somewhat odd, seeing the world through unique perspectives, being eccentric, or strange, or, reclusive, even if you will, just completely normal going to “work” at their desk in the morning like anyone else but who have tended to keep to themselves. I just did a search for “famous writers who were super social” and the results were “famous writers who were introverts.” Then, of course, there’s Goodreads, which is, to me, just another time-consuming app. Keeping in mind that if you’re enjoying using these sites and apps then that’s great, I’m not knocking that, that isn’t what I’m saying. Like I said, really on the fence about Pinterest. Not to mention all the time that it all takes away from actually writing, and really, that’s the main point.
The time it takes away from other things ( writing). I spent an afternoon, several hours, looking at garden ideas on Pinterest. It got dark outside and I realized, I’d never made it outside that day to do any actual yard-work. I like magazines. I haven’t looked at or read magazines as much in the last few years because I could look up ideas online, but the thing about magazines is that they are of a finite length. The internet goes on and on and on, you can lose track of time on the internet entirely too easily. A print magazine, you sit, you look through it, read whatever articles, you reach the end of it, and you’re done.
We’ve been catching up on the second season of the series “Stranger Things”, ( spoiler alert), and there’s a part of the plot where the other world, the “Upside Down”, the Shadow Monster, is spreading. It goes on and on, getting bigger and bigger, proliferating itself spawning these horrible monsters from slugs that come up out it and eat everything, cats, people, in theory, eventually, the world. I thought, “That’s an incredible metaphor for the internet.” For social media.
I started looking around at webpages again and thinking about what I want to do. I think that actress Gillian Anderson has something of the right idea going on. She has the social media buttons set up for her twitter and facebook pages, but she’s got everything pretty well contained on one page. I like that idea, of curating whatever it is to one site, because the other side of someone may find your work on one of those other sites and end up at your webpage, is that it’s also something of a wild goose chase away from your webpage, where you’ve left a trail of breadcrumbs of yourself all along the internet. ( This got me to thinking about people who have multiple houses, “Oh, well, I left that sweater at our house on the coast.” or, “My Down-jacket is still at the cabin.” Which is something I hadn’t thought about before but I don’t know that I’d care for that, or how I’d deal with it, however unlikely a problem it is, but I digress.) I don’t want to be the wild goose chase leader. All those crumbs get to be a lot to keep track of. It isn’t what I want to be spending my time on. Maintaining even one webpage is a tremendous amount of work.
Now, here’s where I’m going to tell you that I work my ass off. I’m in some kind of physical pain every minute of every day, some days, I do less. Some days, I don’t do much. When I can, I work my ass off. I’ve had numerous webpages, tried a million different colors and webpage layouts, and checked out this site and that site, and I’m sure that to some that has just looked like a mess of confusion. (In all honesty, sometimes it has been a mess of confusion.) But, I’ve been learning all the while. I’m a writer, I try to get it right the first time but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to need editing. Write, re-write, edit, and those are all things that apply to other areas of life. If you were creating a recipe from scratch, it might take you several attempts before you had your ingredients right. I work my ass off on my own books. This is work. Something that I’ve learned, the hard way, and more than once, is to trust my own intuition about what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. Everyone else might be going wherever or doing whatever, or doing things however, and I’ve learned that if my intuition tells me something else, listen to that. I’ve taken not a little grief for that on occasion, for not following the herd or for voicing a seemingly contrary way of doing something. As time has gone on, over the long haul, my intuition has generally proved to be pretty accurate. ( Sometimes I’m wrong. Just remember that if ever you walk on water, there will be those who will just say you can’t swim.)
What I wanted to do, originally, was to set up my webpage and have that be the hub of my online universe, something along the lines of what Gillian Anderson has done, though not exactly, and I’ve got it pretty close here now. I didn’t want it to be the center of the wheel and then you’d have to go over here to look at this thing, and then over there to look at that thing. One page. Then using the existing social media to promote the work and direct to the work. So that more work, can actually be accomplished. The Pinterest page is gone, I’ll likely be fighting myself over that one for a few days. The tumblr page is gone, though how I love, love, love tumblr. ( I re-upped pinterest and tumblr but not so much as an extension of my online writerly world but for creative purposes, get some good sparks to the imagination from those sites.) This is my webpage for the purposes of promoting my work, and occasionally that of others, for the promotion of writing and literature and such. All sorts of different folks use the internet for all different sorts of things. If I wasn’t using the internet with regard to my writing, I don’t know that I’d be on social media at all. There are a lot of things that I want to accomplish as a writer, a lot of books for me to write. I have work to do.
So, that’s where things stand now.
Writing to do.