Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is Social Media Taking Over Your Life?

    I was surfing through the channels the other day and came across an entertainment program where the host was talking about some celebrity or other. What they said stopped me cold in my tracks. The 'news' was that the celebrity’s Social Media Standing had slipped by a few points. Social Media Standing? Really?
    Is ‘Social Media’ taking over our world? My family, friends and fellow writers use various platforms to connect in ways that weren’t possible ten years ago, and that’s good. On the other hand, large companies run television ads asking consumers to “Like” their Facebook page. I remember a time when companies advertised to us, not the other way around. Nowadays, they have us going to their website to Like them so they can send their advertising into our homes. It’s our choice, but it still rankles.
    And then there are those who fall in between. Let’s consider social media and the writer, because after all, that’s what I am. Before we writers dip our toe in that big murky social media pond out there, we generally look for guidance on how to go about it.
    Today there are literally hundreds of books aimed at the independent writer; advice on how to set up your web page, how often you should blog, how to build up a Twitter following and how to create a book trailer and put it up on YouTube.
    I read my share of books before I got started. E-books mainly. They all start the same; they have a lengthy introduction telling you what they’re going to teach you. Wouldn’t want to give away any secrets in the free sample.
    If we independent authors were to follow even half of the advice that’s out there, we’d spend eighty percent of our time doing promotion, leaving very little time or energy for writing. Not to mention that we’d be so wrung out after trying to figure it all out, our creative juices would be completely dried up. We’d start to gear our writing toward what sells; never a good idea. By the time you write a story à la current ‘big thing’, interest has moved on to something else. It’s that old saying: Every time I figure out where it’s at, somebody moves it. There you go.
    Today I was searching on Google for fossils combined with a specific area in British Columbia, where my next book takes place. Google is one of my most valuable time-savers. I love it, but today a set of 12 sponsored links popped up on the page, all nicely boxed for my consideration. Every single one related to self-publishing, Writing, Book Design, etc. Considering that I was searching for fossils, that's spooky.
    And then there's Twitter. For most writers, Twitter is a bunch of authors promoting their books to other authors. It’s a lot of clever sayings, quotes, thoughts that amuse us for a moment, but keep us from writing. Again, our choice, but you get the picture. Recently I’ve started to ‘Unfollow’ people who tweet too much. How many times can you read about their amazing book for sale, or their saccharine, peppy, inspirational, funny comments? Yech.
    Twitter is, however, good for a smile if you follow people like Bill Maher, Seth McFarlane, Steve Martin, Stephen Fry, Albert Brooks. These guys are known throughout the twitterverse for their clever comments. Their tweets are few, succinct and precious. Thanks, guys. We could all take a lesson.
    I didn’t mean to turn this into a rant against Social Media. It's here to stay and I will continue to use it. But hearing that comment on television was like a splash of fresh, cool water in my face. Was I getting derailed by all of this stuff? Almost, but not quite.
  In the meantime I'm going to get my little wheels firmly back on the rails and do what I love to do...and that’s write.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting and provocative post, Mona. I confess to getting caught up in all the newsy little tidbits. I'm on facebook and twitter primarily to get the word out about my books, but it's hard not to get derailed by the back-fence-gossip aspect of social media. And how do you draw the line and not sound too grassly commercial? Maybe the subject of another blog? I think a lot of us are struggling with this and could some advice.