In the age of social media it is easy to feel the pressure to be visible on as many platforms as possible: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, I could go on and on. There are different types of people when it comes to social media use: those who don’t care about it (Baby Boomers), those who live their lives by it (Millennials) and those like me who are stuck square in the middle. I didn’t grow up with social media; it is something I had to choose to adapt to. However, I am more old-school than new-school and I hate the fact that I have to rely on technology for so many aspects of my life. I am a tactile, face-to-face type person and as much as I try to enjoy using social media it just isn’t pleasurable for me. Truth be told, if I weren’t a writer I would close down all of my social media accounts right now. But alas, my chosen profession is inextricably linked to the need for social media. I need to promote myself to readers and have a very visible online persona for potential clients. It’s the catch-22 of being a writer and it’s destroying my creativity.
Let me break something to you, I’m a huge introvert. It’s actually one of the reasons I enjoy being a writer. I don’t have to go to an office and make small-talk or interact with strangers. I get to sit in my office, listen to music I enjoy, drink coffee, be creative and read or write as much as I want. It’s my job and it’s pretty awesome. So right now I am working to find a balance between managing my social media and trying to focus on writing. I’m also trying to determine how detrimental it will actually be to step away from it all together.
Having to manage all of my online accounts takes my attention away from writing. Instead, I am worried about how many Tweets I sent out today, are my Goodreads shelves updated, have I “socialized” in my online writing groups this week, do I have any good photos to upload to Instagram? Managing social media is more stressful than fun. Not to mention social media is filled with meticulously curated expressions of ones success. As in, people carefully choose the images and status updates they share to put a positive spin on every aspect of their lives and because we tend to compare ourselves to others the use of social media can inadvertently make the rest of us feel like losers. Personally, I try very hard not to compare myself to others because I’ve reached the age where I just don’t give a shit. Yet, there are times when I feel like I’m not doing “enough”. I’m not posting enough, “sharing” enough, “liking” enough, etc. It turns my main objective towards beefing up my social media instead of focusing on my writing.
Comparison also makes me feel like the things I write are not good enough so I start writing about topics I “think” people will want to read when in reality, I’m just forcing things. Forcing creativity instead of letting it come out naturally is the number one way to fail at it. Forced writing can feel disingenuous if you’re not careful and most readers are turned off by that. And ironically, many of the articles I thought would flop drew the most readership.
My objective is not to trash social media and try to convince you it has no value because it absolutely does. It can be a great outlet for people who are naturally inclined towards technology, it can raise awareness of things that need attention, it can keep people “connected”, it can educate, etc. Using social media for fun is different than having to use it because our world now demands it. I don’t like feeling forced to do anything but right now I feel like I am stuck. All of the writing jobs I have found and the connections I have made to other writers have been through social media. So I would be lying if I told you social media has never benefitted me personally or professionally. I just don’t want to manage it anymore. I want to start my day by sitting in my office in the silence of the morning and flowing my ideas onto paper instead of having to worry about updating all of my social media platforms. Maybe I just need to say “the hell with it” and do what’s best for me. We’ll see.