Me & Social Media: I Feel a Bad Moon Rising

I have written many times over the years about eschewing social media, most notably, Twitter and Facebook. But it’s becoming a problem, because everybody and their grandmothers are on it, including businesses and writing groups and offline groups that I’m involved in. It’s become more of a pain in the ass to avoid it, than to throw up some accounts and give in to a zeitgeist I missed by about ten years and still find just a little repulsive.

canstockphoto14835320Maybe it will be like the year my family took an Amtrak vacation shortly after a fatal train crash. We rationalized that we should still go, since the company would be upping their safety checks – perhaps it was even the safest time to go. Now that social media platforms are being raked over the coals and forced to come to terms with the idea that their platforms are shitty human free-for-alls and treasonous manure spreaders, maybe some things will change. Except people don’t. And companies tend to subvert their shittiness, rather than improve their products. I’m pretty sure it’s all going to still be a time-wasting swamp of excrement.

That being said, I’m going to open accounts, connect with the people I need to connect with, and then hope like hell I can navigate it all without tossing my phone, computer, and self from the nearest bridge. Things are getting intense with writing and I’ve got to learn to connect with people and organizations that support my intentions. It sounds just dreadful.

canstockphoto59497944In the past, it seemed important to have a clear delineation between professional and personal selves. These days, every day is casual day, the profane blends with the political, and metaphorically everyone is in sweatpants. I’m not sure how I feel about that. There is the judgmental voice in my head from my prudish, proper, spit-shine-your shoes, stiff-upper-lip background – impacted by my British mother and grandmother and a stint in the military. And then there is the hippie liberal, comfortable means confidence, pay-attention-to-substance-not-surface, throw-no-stones person that I often long to be.

Of course, nothing is binary these days, which loads us down with the paradox of choice and forces those of us from different generations to really examine what standards we’re holding onto and why. Communication is no different. We are in an age where very prominent, powerful people are running our lives from their toilet seats – where people don’t vet anything before they spew it out. Much like self-published literature could use more editors, social media could use a little self-censorship. But I have to decide what that looks like for myself. Where are my lines in the sand?

canstockphoto14835421I sometimes naively mention my blog to people and am horrified when they want to know what the URL is. Then I’ll quickly denigrate it – oh, it’s nothing, just a little something I threw together, you don’t want to waste your time… I’ve written a lot of personal stories here, used some blue language, rattled off a political opinion or twenty. The thought of people I see regularly, reading it, makes me want to throw up just a bit. When someone says they’ve read my blog, I feel a bit like I’ve just woken up in front of a panel of judges. In my underwear. Yet I have no intention of changing the tone of the blog.

One of my writing kicks lately has been to really think about narrative distance and how that impacts what kind of information we relay – both in fiction and on social media. I feel distance from my writing when I type it – as if I’m writing about someone else. I can say the most vulnerable, revealing things and it feels like I’m just telling a story. If I feel that way about my own writing, I have to pay attention about how I interact with others who write online. Do I make the connection between what they write and their humanity?

canstockphoto14835466The problem with this approach are the insincere, attention hogs who view social media as some sort of stage upon which they can play act any role. Provocateurs and narcissists and sociopaths populate these venues, savoring the idea that they are the puppet masters of others’ emotions, while taking no responsibility for the division and spitefulness they sow. Then there are the maternal, smiley emoticon people who tsk, tsk any negative emotions, trying to have everyone make nice, no matter what the issue. And then there are people like me – a little narcissistic in writing publicly, constantly irritated by bad grammar, and so easily baited into anger by blatant ignorance. I am not well-suited to these venues.

But it’s 2018 and staying true to my interest in anything pop culture, I’m a decade behind the curve. I look forward to the next decade when I get into Instagramma and Crapchat.

45 Comments on “Me & Social Media: I Feel a Bad Moon Rising

  1. I block the assholes on Twitter. So there’s always that. And it is a good place to rant, once you master the art of being succinct about it. It’s amazing what you can pack into a few words 😊

    Liked by 2 people

      • I post my blogs on social media and also articles I write. It is very good for that. You can be on it as often or as little as you want and I have met and have become friendly with some terrific people — more on Facebook than anywhere else, but that’s different for everyone. I handle a client’s social media and LinkedIn works best for him. You’ll quickly figure out what works for you. It’s a good tool.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. Yes I use social media as a vehicle to carry my work, but never to hear what someone’s had for dinner. I think we all should be judicious in this matter. Nice post.

    Like

    • I think that’s all I’ll be using it for as well, but also for connecting with other writers and writing venues. I know it’s easy to get sucked into those worlds and it’s a death knell for the procrastinating writer. Judicious is one of my favorite words. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. All social media can be considered a network — if it has to be. I’m not convinced that it’s any better than local networking/feedback venues, but if one is trying to publish (or canvas, or grassroots something), social media seems the way to go because it reaches more people quickly. (Said Captain Obvious!) It’s certainly not comfortable for people who were raised to employ their filters OR go to their rooms to think about it!

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      • 🙂 Your reasonable, rational, but also vulnerable. It’s a win-win-OW thing, but writers are mostly a sincere lot — it’s always good to mine them and to be mined by them, even online. Or so I hope, for your sake!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My resolve not to “do” social media lasted until last year, when—like you—I was convinced that they were needed if I was going to throw myself wholeheartedly into my writing. I’ve been pretty good about setting boundaries and holding to them. For example, I didn’t download Facebook onto my phone because I don’t want to be one of those people who ignores the life around her to scroll through other people’s lives on a tiny screen. The same with Twitter. I’m pretty intentional about who I connect with, and why, and as a result, I’m finding a supportive community not unlike the community of WordPress bloggers. I really have benefitted from the groups and individuals I’ve connected with, and I think I’ve been able to give some value back. As long as I avoid addiction and succumbing to “what am I missing” syndrome, I’ll probably stick around. I think you’re smart to go into this with your awareness of its downsides and your clear reasons for doing it.

    Like

    • I won’t be downloading the apps to my phone. I don’t like being tethered to the thing and also like to pay attention to actual life around me. Given my rather compulsive personality, I’ll have to work at keeping some guidelines in place. Thanks for sharing your experience, Donna – I think we are similarly inclined in many respects.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I headed in the opposite direction. I quit social media last year, along with yahoo (which I had my computer crash due to scum bags hacking into their system all the time). Not sure it helps or hinders, I just got to the point where all I saw was crap on people’s FB pages who I considered friends. I started forming negative opinions I wished I didn’t have about good people. It stressed me out! So I stopped. Now I have only my WordPress and my blog and I don’t edge outside the zone I like to be in. Although, it has been tempting to vent my liberal ideas I know they are not popular in the USA right now and so I keep them to myself.
    I hope your experience with social media has a positive influence on your publications and networking. I know that your writing stands fine without it.

    Like

    • I will likely keep a lot of political venting to myself (there is already so much out there) and focus mainly on the writing. I’ve gone back and forth on social media, but because of the involvement of other writers and writing groups, I feel compelled to plug in. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for sharing your experience and good wishes.

      Like

  6. Social Media can be great and bad at the same time, it is good for sharing things and thoughts but I feel Facebook has fallen flat. There is too much spam and family drama and boring pictures and too many damn cat pictures. Facebook and Instagram can feel very egocentric at times, it is good to stay away at times. Great read!

    Like

    • Thanks! I found Facebook aggravating when I tried it many years ago – mostly because I hadn’t figured out the privacy settings (or they hadn’t added some of them yet) and people kept contacting me that I never intended on getting in touch with in the first place. Now, it’s a little more locked down and I intend on only using it for writing purposes, having learned very quickly that not much of the content is useful.

      Like

  7. Good luck. At this point, the most unhealthy thing in my life is Twitter, yet I can’t get clear of it. It keeps my politically obsessive brain chemicals pumping and I’m in a bad place w/ it. Problem is, while I’m networking w/ other writers, the little trending list scrolls by and I am hooked — off and running after the latest outrage. I got it bad. 😦 I suspect you have a good more discipline than I have, so go for it & good luck! I agree w/ the person above who said LinkedIn (or I guess it’s just “In” now) is the best for writing/networking.

    Like

    • I can easily see how Twitter can keep the adrenaline flowing. I’ll have to be careful about that as well. I’m hoping to curate an account that doesn’t make me mental and serves to reinforce writing inspiration, but already the users I’ve followed have loaded my feed with everything political. I’m becoming a compartmentalizer due to the fact that constant anger is toxic. Politics, writing, family, friends – I’m starting to untangle them from each other. Just for sanity’s sake.

      I’ll have to see about LinkedIn at some point, but not looking forward to it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LinkedIn is way more professional. Everything seems to be political these days, and I’m the worst offender! I feel rather at sea at the moment, but will find some legs in reality soon, I’m sure. Good luck!

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  8. I’ll be curious to hear how FB works out for you Michelle. I’ve been on it for years and have always felt ambiguous about it. It can be most annoying, but I do connect with my family members and friends across the country on it. I have suspended my account a few times when I got way too sucked into politics, but I usually go back to it just to maintain the personal connections. It will interesting to see if you find it to be a worthwhile tool or a giant sink hole that swallows your time and dulls your intellect by over stimulating your amygdala, which is generally my experience.

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    • I’m going to be pretty strict with myself about social media usage. I have a lot of writing projects going all at once, so likely these accounts may collect a little dust. Not having the apps on my phone is useful, as is limiting when and how much time I can spend on social media alone (I don’t tend to include the blog in this, but I probably should!). My intellect has been sufficiently dulled by the dumbing down of political discourse, but part of resisting all this toxic bullshit is recovering my senses and focusing on things that sharpen my intellect. Resistance is good, resilience is better!

      Like

  9. I have come to appreciate social media. I use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family and to share new blog posts and photos. I frequently clean out my feed so it’s not one long political diatribe which I have no interest in. Now my niece in Wisconsin, or the other two in Montreal and Australia, and my equally scattered sisters and nephews, and yes, the goings-on of new friends I’ve made online – that I’m interested in. I love Instagram as a place to share my photos, and I’m quite selective about who I follow – good photographers – so I can learn and be inspired. Twitter is a mystery to me and I hardly follow anyone and hardly spend any time there but I do use it to promote photos and new blog posts. Overall it takes time but feels like time reasonably well spent. Good luck with it all Michelle. It will be a bit of a learning curve probably to get it to work for you in a way that’s useful.
    Alison

    Like

    • I think that’s the trick – making it work for your particular purposes. As I’ve mentioned to other commenters, I’m going to be strict about when I use it and how much time I spend on social media. I will likely never use Instagram, since all my photos tend to be shitty and I’m not an image-driven person. Your photos are always fantastic on the blog, so I can see why it appeals to you – you have skills! I’ll have to see how it all goes. I felt like after all my kvetching over the years about it, I had to come clean about deciding to use those platforms. Trying to adapt, anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I was STUNNED and thrilled to find your friend request.
    You will find a way to filter the steamiest excrement—Unfollowing, Unfriending, etc. My trick is to stop reading when I hit the first political rant. Sometimes that’s immediately.
    My other trick was to join groups or create a group. As a moderator, you can control ALL.

    Like

    • Thanks for that group tip, Sandy. I’m in the rudimentary stages of set up and thus far, not enjoying it at all. I keep reminding myself that it’s a free platform, hence all the clutter, confusing settings, and unwanted advertising. I much prefer clean pages, but you get what you pay for. And of course I’d send you a friend request!

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  11. It is complicated! I’ve canceled my Twitter account. But I’m sticking with Facebook, mostly because it keeps me in touch with so many people I went to high school with and so many cousins that I rarely get to see. It can be used as it was first intended, as a way to keep in touch with real people, real friends, folks you actually have met in person.

    My greater concern about social media in general and everything that’s on the Internet is that it all seems to be controlled and mediated now by algorithms. Algorithms, a tool of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is already taking control of many aspects of our lives. Algorithms decide what information you see on Facebook.

    Artificial intelligence may not be able to take away our humanity. But artificial intelligence is going to greatly disrupt our economic systems and very possibly our systems of government. I strongly suspect that a majority of people will he dislocated from their jobs, or find their jobs drastically changed, as a result of artificial intelligence. Not in the distant future, but within the next 10 to 20 years. Writers are among the first to be affected. Even as I type here on WordPress, or anywhere, auto-correct keeps trying to change what I’m writing. Can auto-censorship be far behind?

    Like

    • I always freak a little bit when I read about AI being geared towards “content generation”. But in the end, little of it matters. I’d write regardless. The act itself matters. In terms of making money as a writer, it’s always been dicey and unpredictable.

      Many jobs have already been eliminated or altered through automation. Fortunately, humans are a stubborn lot, determined to have some degree of self-reliance and generational skills. When corporate entities eliminate our choices, we find a way to make our own. Of course, my nihilist teenager would argue that there is no free will, so we’ll trundle along to whatever demise is in store, no matter if our butts are being wiped by robots or not.

      Like

      • Your nihilist teenager might be more tuned in to the new reality than we are. 😳 I recently spoke to a college teacher who said that her students apparently have not learned how to fend for themselves or take initiative. She claimed it’s because of the way children are being brought up, with little opportunity for independent play time or unsupervised interaction with their peers. The most recent post on my blog is about artificial intelligence.

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        • As a conscientious parent trying to raise an independent, critical thinker, I get a little irritated with the usual “this generation is a bunch of whatever-the-insult-of-the-day-is”. Every generation says crappy things about the ones behind them, but for some reason the human species goes on and society has not yet collapsed in on itself. Different times, different problems, different solutions, same old humans.

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        • Good point! The generation passing from the scene has always complained that the younger generation (not their children’s generation, but their grandchildren’s generation or younger) is going to hell in a
          handbasket.

          But in reality, the world changed very slowly until recent decades. Conditions in technology hardly changed at all from generation to generation. My generation and your generation were the first to grow up in the television age. People born since 1990 have been the first to grow up in the computer age, and the cell phone age is barely a decade old. The pace of change from generation to generation has greatly accelerated. I don’t Think we want to disparage younger people. But it may help us understand them if we acknowledge that they are the first to experience this new era. We wish them well, and perhaps they may be the ones who create a better society.

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        • This is true – it will take a little time for us to catch up in terms of how it impacts human development. What I do know is that I will likely, like most humans, need to be cared for by a younger generation. I’m going to be supportive and nice as pie, lest I end up chained up in a kennel or part of some sort of Soylent Green scenario!

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  12. Michelle, I get all of this. Social media can be toxic. I find Twitter is my favorite place for writing info. It is so easy to connect with literary journals and magazines, other writers, editors, and a strong writing community. I get and share info about submissions. I find that social media is almost a necessary evil if I want to keep up with writing. There’s so much info, and research often points me there. However, I sometimes find myself lost in the social media sauce instead of writing. That’s when I unplug for a while. And recalibrate:) I block all trolls and fake profiles. They are easy to spot. Oh, and also “nice Jesus-loving man looking for good woman”—delete! block!

    Like

    • I followed a lot of people who I thought were funny writers, but I had to re-think that and unfollow them because my feed was loaded with politics. I’ve decided Twitter is only for writing – so I’m following lit journals and a few writers. If I send out Tweets, it will only be related to writing. It sounds like that is the policy you follow. It’s not that I don’t want to be informed about politics, but it’s so relentless. I’d rather just read a few news sources for the day and call it good.
      And there is some sort of mercenary joy in blocking – even if they are not following me, nor will ever show up on my timeline. Passive-aggression is not my finest quality.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Left it and the allure of “social networking” in the dust over a year ago. The wells of toxicity are bottomless, and the ones which could nurture & network one’s craft are long dried up. Unless you’re into online bickering – it’s poison.

    Like

  14. Pingback: Me & Social Media: I Feel a Bad Moon Rising — The Green Study - The Greatest Never

  15. Pingback: Me & Social Media: I Feel a Bad Moon Rising — The Green Study – Nikki Westfield: Writer, Talker, Rocker

  16. Pingback: Me & Social Media: I Feel a Bad Moon Rising — The Green Study – Dandyfashionpro.com

  17. I [insert heart-shaped emoticon] this. #relevance #timelywisdom

    I dub thee Twitter-worthy Queen of Anti-Brevity (#bringbackthenovel)

    (Now where do I click to upload my comments with a link to CrapChat.)

    Like

    • Thus far, the only irritants are the reminders from Facebook to post something. To which I respond out loud, like a sullen teenager, “I don’t want to”. I think I’ve locked down the accounts to be utterly useless until I decide to use them. I’m not in any hurry!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Me & Social Media: I Feel a Bad Moon Rising — The Green Study – Extraordinary Ideas

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