Fact 1) Ten years ago, I set out to finish my historical fantasy series.
Fact 2) Ten years ago, I also got a Facebook and Twitter account.
At the time, it seemed like everyone was telling me how important social media was to my career. And in many ways, it’s actually helped a lot. Facebook has facilitated meaningful relationships, connected me to critique partners and beta readers, and introduced me to some incredible groups of readers, writers, and friends.
Twitter has been less personal, but I have learned a lot by following and occasionally interacting with authors, advocates, and artists. It’s allowed me to be “in the know” on newly released books and movies, as well as important topics and issues within the writing community. My writing is absolutely better because of it.
Facebook has also turned into the biggest time-suck I’ve ever experienced in my life. My fingers type its URL into my browser window before I even know what I’m doing. When I started looking at the time I spent every day on Facebook, I was shocked. Apparently all those moments of checking in and falling down the wormhole were adding up into hours, and after ten years…I wonder how much time I’ve lost to this blue and white void.
Twitter is like that little girl in the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “There was a little girl,/ Who had a little curl,/ Right in the middle of her forehead./ When she was good,/ She was very good indeed/ But when she was bad she was horrid.” Twitter isn’t just a time-suck; it’s a soul-suck.
And the biggest issue wasn’t just the amount of time I was spending on Facebook and Twitter, but how it affected me emotionally. I won’t go into the details, because I don’t really need to; most of you are already on there, and you already know. But the biggest hangup for me was the writing paralysis. When I invited the legion of Strangers on the Internet™ into my head, there was no space left to think, or feel, or create. There was just vitriol, despair, and chatter. And advertising.
I used an app called Self Control. I blocked screen time and scheduled “downtime” and set app limits on my iPhone. But Self Control only blocks things for a day at maximum, and my phone settings were so easy to bypass, sidelining them became part of the muscle memory of logging in.
Of course, I had the option of deleting everything. But a number of my former missionary companions are from foreign countries, and Facebook is my primary means of staying in touch with them, and I do enjoy keeping up with old friends. Facebook messenger allows me to talk to one of my best friends in Japan for free. Facebook is also the source of 99.9% traffic to my blog, because at this point, it’s really only the people who know and care about me that read it, (thanks guys!) and I’d really like to make this website my central hub.
On Twitter, I have about 1,000 followers, which isn’t a lot, but it also isn’t nothing. And I feel like it’d be stupid to erase that when I’m trying to establish myself as an author, and it is nice to have access to other authors as well. And I have learned a lot from it, and I don’t want to cut myself off from that entirely. I just don’t want it in my head every day.
My husband was the one to come up with the solution. He offered to block Facebook and Twitter from our home internet server. That means they can’t be accessed from our wi-fi. And I have no idea how to bypass that block. If I want to share a blog post on Facebook, I can go to our local library or a coffee shop to log in. Same with Twitter. But it has to be intentional. I have to set aside some time for social media, get in my car, drive somewhere, and log into someone else’s wi-fi.
I’ve been doing it for two weeks already and it’s awesome.
Long story short, if you want to get ahold of me via Facebook or Twitter, you might have to wait a week or so to hear back from me. I still have Instagram, because I already rarely use it. In the meantime, the best way to get ahold of me is by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you don’t want to miss any updates on this blog, please put your email address in the subscription box in the sidebar. (It should be on the right side of the screen if you’re viewing this from a computer, and directly under this post if you’re on a mobile device.) You’ll get a notification in your inbox every time I post something new, which is usually once a week. I will try to also share links on my Facebook page, but, you know, now I have to go to the library so it might take a little longer than usual.
I think it would be a good idea to watch this space, actually, because there’s a lot of good stuff coming up on the horizon, and it’s coming up faster than ever.
Thanks for coming on this journey with me.