Some of you may have noticed a slight lull in activity around here of late.
Over the past two weeks, my activity online has dwindled greatly. It culminated on Monday of last week when I resolved to not get ‘on-line’ for the remainder of the week. I say online because I still got onto the internet, the world wide web, the information superhighway, etc. But I did so for work exclusively. I didn’t engage on social media at all recreationally and I curbed all efforts to look up things on Wikipedia, Google things, tool around on Youtube, etc. I spent as much of my day as I could without so much as checking my email.
And you know what? It was great.
Like, it was really good. Amazingly good. Transformative, really. For starters, I got a lot of work done, but that’s probably a given. But more than that, I felt better. I definitely slept better. I feel like I thought clearer. I smiled more. That’s no hyperbole either. My quality of life went up considerably.
Make no mistake, there was a downside too. A strange loneliness crept into my mind. I found myself missing friends and wanting to reach out to them. Granted, I could call or text many of them, but more than a few I only interact with via social media. Facebook or Twitter is the only means I have for saying ‘hello’. But broader than that was the sense of isolation. We might revile social media for being a surrogate for ‘real’ friendships (whatever that standard might be), but it does provide meaningful connections in more instances than we give it credit. I certainly felt that absence over the week.
Perhaps worse was my lack of awareness of the world around me. At least eight people died on Friday from the most recent school shooting here in America. I only learned about that yesterday. That weighs on me greatly. There was a wide protest here in Raleigh where teachers marched on the capital in protest for their abhorrent situation. I’d have loved to voice support, if not participate. Without being online, I found only learning about the fact as I drove to work.
I elected to cut the cord on my online activities without much forethought. I’d be considering going on a ‘media fast’ ever since things spiraled out about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and their involvement in violating users’ privacy as well as pushing harmful political agendas. There was no real catalyzing incident though. I just went through a day the week before last where I was so busy, I never really got online. I realized how much I had gotten done in that absence and how draining it felt to get back onto Facebook and scroll through my feed. It didn’t feel recreational; it felt like work. Through the weekend, mindful of that drain, I found myself avoiding social media more and more until Monday came and I decided rather abruptly.
I am not about to delete my Facebook page. I’m not going to cancel my Twitter. While I liked life without social media, what I missed were maters too important to turn a blind eye to. On top of that, social media is a job requirement in this day and age. For most people and especially for artists. Most of my books sell through word-of-mouth and word-of-mouth these days are Amazon reviews and Twitter referrals. I could delete my social media accounts but then I’d probably never sell a book outside of a convention again.
So if I want to avoid social media and I need to be active on social media, what do I do? I’m not entirely sure. Having read the single best book ever on social media for writers – cleverly named Social Media for Writers – I do think I can strike the balance. I hope so. But it means I am planning to overhaul my presence and activity online. I hope to streamline my processes, and also consolidate them. I’m only going to be getting online periodically and for short periods of time. I still want to interact with people. But I will simply be a bit more strategic about it.
The internet may possibly be the greatest invention since the vaccine, and social media is no tiresome ill of the vain but a powerful tool. But power can overwhelm those who don’t wield it carefully. I think I have become careless and I hope to remedy that.
And we’re just days out from Escape Velocity!
Yes, this weekend for the Memorial Day Holiday, I will be in Washington DC for the Museum of Science Fiction’s primary event, Escape Velocity!
If you will be in the area, come to what looks to be a promising new convention on the scene, one that marries science fiction and science fact! I will be sitting in on a bunch of panels (Zombae, Alien Worlds as seen through Video Games, Sci-Fi and Faith, and many more) as well as selling copies of Proton and RocKaiju. Also! I will be helping to celebrate the release of LG Ransom’s newest book, Legacy of Hollin! See you there!