September 3, 2015

Well, I had my first (and hopefully only) social media intervention this week. My husband has been frustrated by my decreased “presence” while the computer has increasingly been on my lap lately. Luckily, I was already in the process of interventioning myself so we were on the same page during the discussion. And hopefully, as I explained to him, I view my, ahem, intensity, shall we call it, as a temporary surge during my social media learning curve.

I’m a list-maker and very goal driven. I had a goal this summer to get a website set up and get involved with (at least some) social media. The website, though there were a couple initial snafus and it will by nature require ongoing maintenance, went well and I really enjoy blogging. The social media felt more like an avalanche I hadn’t seen coming (See Diary of a Social Media Moron 1-3). But I’m determined, even more so after the intervention, to control the damage and progress to my fall goal, editing and publishing my memoir.

The collateral damage of the avalanche I feel worst about was that with my increased device time came increased device time for my three-year-old. Let’s face it, Kindles occupy kids when you’re trying to get shit done. My intervention came following a night she was overly tired (also my fault because I’m a late-nighter and she stays up with me) and had a meltdown when I shut the Kindle off. Listening to her screaming (and she is NOT a screamer) for the Kindle at 12:30 at night (morning) was a wake-up call for me: my initial social media learning phase is over. Where I’m at, I’m at, and however it goes from here will be in the dribs and drabs of normal—controlled—use.

Writers are notorious for getting bogged down with social media, and the internet in general. The most obvious reason is that writing is hard, solitary work, almost always on a computer where this huge distraction is only a click away. I think less talked about is why that particular distraction holds such lure (as opposed to washing dishes, laundry, plucking that stubborn chin hair, or what have you). It’s because writers are readers. Yes, there are a lot of videos and visuals out there too, but essentially when writers are online we are reading, whether it’s news (yilch, god forbid), a favorite writing blog or ten, or how to get your kid to be happy with a fish when he really wants a dog (no, that’s not actually an article. Yet. It will be after I write it!). And with social media, you get to read and write at the same time, even if it’s just snippets on Facebook or a catchy 140 characters on Twitter. Then, of course, there are the links—MORE reading, ENDLESS reading! It can be too much to resist, but even when you’re reading about writing, the “real” writing isn’t getting done.

So it’s tough. With the industry’s insistence that authors must build platforms, we can no longer refuse social media the way an alcoholic must refuse a bar. Instead, we face the dieter’s challenge, moderation. I’m trying to look at it like I try to look at pizza. Whether I have one slice or three slices or 40 slices, I want more, so I might as well just have the one slice that doesn’t make me feel ill afterward. I’m not always successful but lots of times I am, and I’m healthier for it.

So as I move from my summer goals to my fall ones, I wish for serenity as I navigate social media, the wisdom to keep figuring it out, and the courage to write in places without Wi-Fi.