Both of these friends were on Facebook, and I feel their pain. I actually quit Facebook in 2014. I got away with it for six weeks, before one of my publishers sent me an email saying to go back to fulfill my contractual obligations to them. What obligations, I asked. The ones they added. Turns out the publisher merged with another company, and our contracts had been quietly modified to require presence on certain social media outlets. So I went back to Fartbook (or Faceplant; whichever Twitterism you choose to apply to them). But I’ve also self published ever since then, because I resent the intrusion in my online activity. I can see where a website is necessary. A blog is also beneficial to writers, but when it comes to social media, I think we should be free to utilize the outlets that work best for us. Not all people are the same, and not all social media sites work for all of us the same way. We can taylor websites and blogs to our personality. Social media; not so much. You can filter through groups and “likes” but that only does so much. In the end, you get what they’re all about, and each of them are about different things. Social media is a tricky thing. There are so many sites out there, and it can be hard to figure out which (if any) you connect with. But once you find one, I say stick with that, and don’t waste your time and energy on the rest.
Twitter has been my outlet of choice, because people actually interact with me over there. You’d be amazed at the conversations you can have in a limited amount of characters, and the depth of conversation that’s possible. In fact, it seems to me that Twitter is better because it’s easier to specify groups with like interest that make it easier to bond. I like Twitter so much, in fact, that I have two accounts: @sherrithewriter is my main account focused on day to day life observations and writing, and @CaptainBubbs is focused on birds. Many people follow me through both accounts. Heck, I even got on as a contributing writer on BirbObserver through friends on Twitter. That community bonds over common interest in a way more like “real life” than anything I’ve seen online. We talk and interact, online and offline. Heck, several of us even send one another Christmas cards. Who does that anymore? There's a lot of love on Twitter, at least in my experience. Sure, there are some bad apples (as there are everywhere), but overall it's a much more supportive community. They absolutely overwhelmed me when Chloe died. I still have people calling, emailing, and messaging me to see how things are going. That's impressive!
Not so on Facebook. It's a void. Honestly, people only react to my posts if I put a picture of the birds in it. Most of my posts are ignored, except for a handful of loyal people (mostly people I know in day to day life) who react, but the conversations don’t happen. And the only person who reacts to posts about my writing is a fellow author across the country. To date, I’ve only confirmed one book sale through Facebook, and that person eventually dropped me and passed away (the random friend drops are so common on Facebook that I hardly notice them – probably those random fits of judgement that my friend mentioned a few days ago). And don’t even get me started on the “lurkers” who never post anything themselves, but monitor your posts closely (the 21st century version of eavesdropping and gossip). They don’t seem to understand the basic concept that social media is about being social, and if you aren’t interacting, then you’re defeating the whole purpose of being there. There are some good folks there that I like being in contact with - the problem is that they don't post a lot, so they aren't the majority. Too bad, really. It would be a better place if they did. Unfortunately, the judgement and opinionism seem to be taking over.
The other site I’m on is Goodreads. I used to be more interactive on there than I am. Honestly, it’s a time thing. I log my reading activity there and check in on group conversations, but I don’t interact as I should. I think the reason is that it isn’t easy to do on the mobile app, and it isn’t “real time” like it is on Twitter. All of the conversations on Goodreads are through threads, so replies may come hours or even days after you post. No instant interaction or gratification there. As an author it would probably behoove me to be more active there. Maybe I need to zero in on one or two groups to regularly interact with to stay alive over there.
As for the other social media sites, I just don’t have time to deal with them, or even know about them. But then again, that’s probably why there are so many: to suit your tastes. I’ve heard that Instagram is good if you take a lot of pictures, but I don’t. I am on Flickr for pictures, but that’s more for storage and backup than for interaction (plus, it’s linked to Yahoo where I have an account, so in essence, I was already there even before I was posting pictures). I’ve never sold an article on EzineArticles, and in fact so rarely write them now that I perhaps get one or two hits a month on very old things from back in the days of my inspirational writing. I duck into Pinterest every now and then, but I’m falling away from that because I really don’t need any more bad ideas and again, the interaction isn’t really there. And the others – what are they? Off my radar. But if you're on one of them and it's knocked your socks off, let me know to check it out.
Social media really is a mixed bag, but one thing is for certain: what you see may or may not be what you get. In the end, I think it’s a good enhancement to human interaction, but not a substitute. You still need to get out there and talk to people, face to face. But being online isn’t bad. You just have to know where to be, and what works for you. If you find yourself in a place you don’t like, be bold like my friends have been and just leave. That’s the advantage of social media. You can log out.
That’s the easiest way of walking away ever.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.