Over the last few months, as I’ve worked on a transition plan for a career in where-I-landed to one in writing, I’ve wrestled with the idea of social media. Here’s what I figured out: It is clutter that needs to be cleared from my mental landscape.
I’m a technically savvy person. To a point. There must be tremendous gain in order for me to be motivated to untangle the snarl of tech apps and social media on offer out there. If it doesn’t make my life better, whether it be personal development, time efficiency or dollars (so I can pay someone else to do it), then it’s off my radar.
About five years ago, before considering the professional aspects of social media, I set up a personal Facebook page. I snooped and searched and found friends and relatives first. Then I looked for Army buddies and then high school friends and then an occasional childhood friend.
It was amazing how many of them were fake farming and posting pithy quotes and causes, poor quality phone pictures and inane comments that one would hardly bother verbalizing in person. Worse yet, they were staying in touch with my ex-boyfriends, ex-bosses, ex-friends and ex-relatives. Fantastic. There’s nothing like rebuilding those bridges that I had tossed kerosene on, set on fire and danced around singing joyfully, all while they burned, baby, burned.
I tweaked the settings so I didn’t have to see them. Then I started blocking pictures, then the mommy updates, the impersonal updates from rock stars just because I “liked” them, then I blocked friend requests, since people I had chosen not to keep in touch with, hadn’t gotten the message over the last 20 years. Then I deleted the account. I’ve gone through this process at least twice in the last 5 years. Suck that, timeline feature. I think the 3rd time will be a charm.
It used to be that real life friends would start every conversation with “I don’t know if you saw what I posted on Facebook, but” and would start talking to me from the middle of some story. If you stare at people blankly long enough, they start remembering to call and email. Occasionally, since they would have to start at the beginning of their story, we’d meet for coffee. Or I’d never hear from them again. It was win-win for everyone involved.
I never really saw the point of Twitter. I’m a wordy writer. 140 characters seems like punishment for some crime I’ve yet to commit (#badprose). I signed up, un-twitting lamb to the slaughter. Stand up comics have great lines, which work well in the Twitterverse. The rest of us sound desperate for attention. I like my desperation in long form and feel embarrassed when I read as other talented writers send out Haikus that all say, in essence, “Look at me, I don’t want to do this but, they make me.” Unless, of course, they’ve already hit the big-time and have publicists who type that nonsense for them.
As curmudgeonly as it makes me sound, there are few things we have control over in our lives, but our free time is one of those things. I know that a lot of people find pleasure in connection at short bursts, but this is something that is BAD for me. It caters to my tendency to be unsociable and lowers my tolerance for longer interactions with real people. If I’m rapid-firing off missives on every mundane moment of my life, I don’t have the time to be engaged in the planet I’m physically standing on.