Facing Off


kitty in the windowWriting is a solitary undertaking, and I enjoy solitude for the most part. I can frolic with my imagination for hours, and enjoy every minute of it… but even I need some social interaction. In that regard, social media has been a godsend. I can pop onto Facebook, drop a post, and have a semblance of human contact all without leaving my writing chair.

I can tweet about the ring-necked pheasant hen I saw in my yard, and Mrs. Pheasantknow that somebody somewhere will get why seeing that bird made me so happy. I can feel like my readers are enjoying Scotland with me, and that was just lovely.

What’s not to like?

Well… plenty. The phenomenon of online bullying is well documented. cat fightWe get into a situation where we’re all but anonymous, and our opinions become rants. We see an inflammatory click-bait post, and even though we KNOW it’s simply there to collect data and generate traffic, there we are, leaving an impassioned comment that provokes somebody else to an impassioned reply.

Pretty soon, I’m arguing with some guy in Denmark about the ethics of Germany’s austerity demands on Greece, ’cause, see,  post-WWII, Germany was shown enormous debt forgiveness and rebuilt pew pew pewthrough the Marshall Plan, because the example from WWI was that austerity creates fertile grounds for facism, so we know that a bottom-up approach to restructuring the….

As if I know anything about international monetary policy? As if a single elected official will give a rooty-toot-toot about what I posted on Facebook? And yet, there I am… cat w megaphoneblathering on, about Greece, about Amazon’s thoroughly compromised review policy, about why telling little girls they’re beautiful might be a mistake… C’mon, Grace Burrowes.cat novel

So I’m setting some limits for myself. I will post on my page, about the stuff that I think might be interesting or fun for my readers. I will skim my feed no more than once a day, but this business of foghorning all over creation when I have books to write… no mas, Grace Ann. That’s just hot tremaine_450x2-274x450air, not social interaction, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s simply time wasted.

I have books to write, family and friends to stay in touch with, more trips to Scotland to plan, and flowers to plant. If you see me leaving one of my War and Peace comments one somebody’s post about the Exxon CEO who claims fracking is safe, but is suing to enjoin fracking near his horse farm… just tell me you hear Matthew Belmont calling me, or Hamish MacHugh, or Daniel Banks, or–this guy really intrigues me–Elias Brodie, Earl of Strathdee.

Am I the only one who views social media as a mixed blessing? Do you have any rules of thumb for how much is enough, and what lines not to cross?

To one commenter, I’ll send a copy of Tremaine’s True Love.


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43 comments on “Facing Off

  1. I *like* your Facebook page. I follow you on Twitter. But I will never comment on anything you post. Here, on your website I feel safe, but I don’t feel safe on FB or even on Twitter. My FB page uses a portion of my birth name and none of my combo maiden-married name. Here, I use my nickname and unless someone is really looking for me and knows me from childhood, they won’t find me.

    I have strong political views and have been a disability advocate for years. But I don’t want something I stupidly might say to influence any of my work as an advocate.

    My business is music and my choral organization has a FB page. That is the ONLY place I post anything (and as that choral group)and the posts have to do with auditions and concerts and music or the like in the news (when Ward Swingle died in January, we posted his death and will do that sort of thing when appropriate).

    My thought has always been to only post or comment on neutral things…no religion, politics or sex comments….just as I would at a dinner party or a family holiday.

    That being said, I mistakenly requested to Friend my best friend from HS. We message each other all the time and have lunch occasionally. It’s good to connect, really connect with her (she also knew the portion of my birth name as I know HER whole name so knew who it was asking to friend her!)and my mistake has been a real blessing.

    All the other junk is time wasting…it’s easy to say things to people when you are hundreds and thousands of miles away. But it’s not really satisfying.

    • I started off from the same perspective as you: I’m a published author, that’s my only excuse for posting…. but I’m also a mom, a child welfare attorney, a former musician, a trained conflict manager…

      I got distracted from the straight and peaceful, and I need to get back on track.

      • Your author FB posts are beautiful….and calming to me. I enjoy reading them and would love to comment but I hold myself back on purpose.

        I was hired in June to be a regular columnist for my own professional society’s website……under my own name…..and was so excited and honored etc. but now I’m a bit verklempt about it since my views about stuff will be on display. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

        Calm and beautiful, Miz Grace, steady on. The world is full of ugly, you be BEAUTY!

  2. The only social media I have is Facebook. I love the fact that I can keep in touch with my friends and what they are doing as we have moved away from home. I like that my family from all over is more connected than we would be otherwise. And I have met a great group of friends. Do I post much, depends on my mood. But I am extremely careful who I friend and if friends and I fight it is just like we would in real life. People who are not on my friends list who are friends of friends get ignored.

    • I’ve lately been hiding posts left and right, and unfollowing people… I never chose to follow them in the first place. The more I’ve done this, the happier my FB interaction has been. As you say… the same selective approach we take to real life.

  3. I was at a family gathering on the 4th and a bunch of us were sitting around the dining room table just talking when my sister rapped on the table and told my two young nieces to put their phones down if they wanted to stay at the table and talk. Amazingly, the 16 and 14 year old put them down and joined in the conversation.

    I think there might be hope for mankind yet! (smile)

    • I see those FB posts: “For a $1 million, would you live without your cell phone, computer, and social media for a month?”

      How do they thing their parents GREW UP? Geesh. I never set fingers on a computer keyboard until I was almost done with college, and that was because I worked at a very tech-savvy newspaper.

  4. I enjoy social media to some extent. I feel that people can really put too much info of their lives on there. I don’t need to know who is cheating on who or what you ate for dinner. I think that there is a line that can be crossed and I find that people often do it. I usually unfollow those people, I don’t have time for drama.

  5. Like most things, technology can be good and bad. I must admit I spend way too much time sitting behind my computer but it’s been a wonderful thing too. I enjoy people and and the contacts that I’ve made. I enjoy learning and there is so much wonderful information. But I also overdo reading all the horrible “news.” I really try not to ever rant about anything but I will put in my two cents once in a while. The best part has been finding new authors and anything book related. I have found that my favorite authors are people I really like. Sometimes I’ve found them through their blogs first or being lucky to win their books. And games – I love games lol.

  6. Growing up with four younger brothers, as well as a younger sister, I would have thought that I’d have become inured to having my buttons pushed. But no, I’m more like Pavlov’s dogs reacting instantly! And I seem to have gotten worse the older I’ve gotten! Or maybe I’ve just evolved my social conscience with age. So like you, Grace, I’ve backed way down, off really, of social media and almost all commenting – except I couldn’t resist the lure of Tremaine!

      • I will pass that thank you along to my publisher, who’s still worried about “teaching the readers they can get it for free.” Lordy days, then why not do something about piracy? Why not keep the titles out subscription programs…. oops. What you heard was the sound of a button being pushed.

      • If it will console your publisher, I’d be happy to count the number of your books both on my Kindle and in hard copy that I’ve purchased! Pretty much everything you’ve written except one or two of the early Lonely Lords. I think freebies work more in the line of “hooking” new readers.

  7. I do have very strong opinions, and I try very hard not to post anything on FB or twitter that is remotely political or religious. In fact,I am so reserved that only my family and closest friends know my feelings. People are strange, and I don’t want to be attacked or feel I have to defend my position on anything. (Besides, I am NOT a good debater, and really hate conflict.) I enjoy jokes, puns, funny or lovely pics, and I love to post about books, of course. There is one author whose books I read who is so radically vocal that she terrifies me. I wish she would keep a page just for her author stuff and a personal page for her views. You’d think that I could just skip past the stuff that I know is going to upset me, but I still read it.

    • I try to keep in mind that as an author, my readers are paying me to entertain them, to provide a small escape from life, albeit one that might sometimes provide food for thought.

      Nobody is buying a Grace Burrowes book or stopping by my FB page to get my views on global warming. If my views were that insightful, I could put them on a personal page… which I am not about to do. (Tremaine says never mix business with politics. Nita says Tremaine talks too much.)

  8. I read comments all the time that make me laugh out loud, sometimes in humor, other times in derision, as well as comments that make me shout at the computer and that stupid person who posted. But that’s all I do, I don’t write a comment in response because I know it does no good, and I may come off looking even more foolish than that person I’m responding to. By responding out loud in the privacy of my own home, I get it off my chest, but no one else needs to know about it. 😀 I enjoy social media because it does make me feel more a part of the world, but I really try to limit the interaction to harmless little comments that don’t reveal my true feelings about most topics.

    • I will be inspired by your example. I know good and well many posts are carefully designed to push buttons, and all they’re doing is collecting my data when I post, but still…. It’s like avoiding artificial sweeteners. By the time you taste it, it’s too late.

  9. I have backed of Facebook as well. I felt that I was glued to my iPhone and iPad when my daughter was abroad this past semester. We communicated via FaceTime, Viber and IMessage.She came home in June and I deleted a few apps on my phone and removed the notifications from the different reader groups that I belong to. There was TMI for me. I skim through Facebook in the morning and at night.

    I post links to my blog reviews on Facebook, Twitter and Google. And I love to see photos of my friends children, dogs and puppies on Facebook. And I congratulate my friends who post show wins, anniversaries and birthdays. It’s positive and fun!

    It’s important to remember that you have the power to log off Facebook and take a break as needed.

    I will ask Celeste to keep you on task with Matthew, Hamish and the new guy Elias.

  10. My husband is a child psychologist at a large hospital. Some of his co-workers recently started a group therapy session for children who were/are victims of on-line bullying and within 2 weeks they had a 9-month waiting list for those wanting to attend. Quite a shock to my system to see that the negative impact was so extensive in my little corner of the world.

    When my son was 4 years old, he asked me what Facebook was and I explained that it let me read about and see pictures of my friends who live far away. He replied “Why do you want to read about far away people when I’m right here in front of you and I know a MILLION ways we could have fun!” I’ve made this a basic rule for my life–prioritize face to face time with friends and family and make social media interactions secondary. Sometimes kids have the best ideas, don’t they?

    • Smart kid… one of my brothers is permanently attached to his phone, and for him, that’s a way to, as he says, “connect, connect, connect…” but I have a limited number of USB ports, relative to him,and every time he picks is his phone, he’s un-connecting from what’s in front of him. Dif’rent strokes.

  11. This the most I ever do with social media type posting. Remember the reminder, to teenagers and it applies to all of us, ONCE ON THE INTERNET IT WILL NEVER TOTALLY DISAPPEAR. As you have stated Grace, the desire to reply to bigots etc always has a great deal of appeal but you don’t know what will come back to haunt you.

  12. I use Facebook mainly to follow my favorite authors and to try and win books. Your blog is about the only one I read on a regular basis though I do click on links to some blogs from different author groups.
    Because I’m a veteran and a military widow I follow some related groups on FB and I also follow several animal rescue groups here.
    I try to avoid any mention of sex, religion, or politics unless it’s related to someone’s writing as that’s the way I was brought up.

    • I was brought up that a lively debate is an enjoyable way to learn and exchange ideas… but I wonder if that outlook is unique to college towns, or to my family. Now, debates don’t really happen. We hear reciprocal rants, instead. I’m thinking your policy is the more sensible one, these days.

  13. I like the kittie writing the GAN. Do you get brownie pints somewhere for how busy this blog is or is this fun for the fans?

    • Sue, I consider the blog the one place where I can be strictly myself, not “the brand,” not the bestselling author. Just little old me. I hope that makes it fun for all of us (but not the kit-teh, who must write, write, write…)!

  14. Despite my personal political and religious views I try very hard to avoid those topics on all social media. I try (not always successfully) to stick to the live and let live philosophy instead of getting involved online. Honestly, there have been times when I refuse to even look at my FB feed because I know I won’t be able to resist making comments that will offend a lot of people.

    For the most part I keep my Facebook comments and interactions for ‘real life, face to face’ friends even if they are long distance friends. I do often visit author’s Facebook pages (and websites) but rarely comment on their posts — although I have been known to participate in a few release parties.

    Grace, your blog posts are almost always of the introspective variety and comments require more than a pithy reply. Many authors do keep all conversations focused solely on their books. I appreciate the chance to see another side of one of my favorite authors. 🙂

    • Thanks! The blog is a challenge for me, because who am I to sound off once a week? But it also means I go through the week with more of an ear to the ground, an eye on the sky. I’m looking for ideas and images that might be good fit with the vibe here, and–funny how that works–because I’m on the look out, I usually spot something that gets me thinking.

  15. Did you just give your nom de plume a middle name? Why do I find that funny? Anyway.

    I only post on Facebook. I don’t tweet on Twitter or insta (or whatever you are supposed to call it) on Instagram. My general posting guidelines: Is it funny (at least to me)? Or does it make me look ridiculous (which means it’s funny)?

    I will occasionally take part in discussions where everyone maintains civility. I realize I don’t research politics or the environment or economics like others do so all I have are my opinions (however ill informed they may be). I choose to keep them to myself because I don’t need/want yet another person misconstruing something I said and calling me names. I’m too busy to giving high schoolers reasons to call me names (behind my back).

    What is actually going on in my day-to-day life can be too much. Why would I want to make it worse by taking part in a strife filled world online?

  16. Hmm… I do a little Facebook, which I guess is now antique. I guess Instagram is now the new thing. I have just a few friends on Facebook who I’ll know will act right. I want to stay in touch with people I love, but I’m not interested in a soap box.

  17. Bow out from social media….you will have more time on your hands and you will have a peaceful heart. These are just strangers out there. If motivated to comment then do, but never engage in the reply game.

  18. As a single woman with little family and friends spread far and wide, social media is a gift. But, as with all things I bring into my home, it is for my betterment and convenience and not someone else’s. I’m very open and honest on my accounts, but also thoughtful and careful. I will not keep as a friend anyone who cannot be respectful of me or others who interact with me online. The blocking feature is very useful. 🙂

  19. A mixed blessing indeed! I have reunited with family members and old grade school friends through Facebook and that has been grand and wonderful. But I also have to accept that when a customer in my children’s consignment store leaves the store unhappy and threatens to put me out of business by posting terribly inflammatory words on Yelp, there is nothing I can do. And then do I answer her or just let her do her thing and ignore it. So yes, mixed indeed. But my solitary self seeks solace from my guys – the Earl of Westhaven or Benjamin Hazlit just to name a few. And then I feel better.

  20. I left the 21st century for the 18th when I retired including every politically oriented website. I severed any links and lowered my blood pressure about 10 points thereby.

    Now I talk to people about the advantages of cork bum rolls over pads and stuffing, where to find a reproduction papillote iron and whether or not Waxhaws was really a massacre. (Well, 18th century politics and spin doesn’t create quite the heat of 21st.)

  21. Cyberspace seems to turn into an addictive habit and you don’t realize how much a part of your life you allowed it to become, until the power goes out! Then it’s OMG panic attack. I liken cyberspace to an electronic leash. As with anything else in life, it’s fine with moderation. I deactivated all my accounts a long time ago. After the initial days of withdrawal, I settled back into connecting with the people in my life the ‘old fashioned way’. It is so much more rewarding and adds hours to each day to be productive, have fun, and help others in need. These days I only check in on three sites that always make me smile and are devoid of drama. I rarely post, although I will PM if I know the person & have something positive to add.

    As for those that think they are hiding from big brother, google your own name. What is out there and attached to your name is mind boggling. Cyberspace has become the modern version of the old west, except now we are being emotionally & financially robbed by electronic mayhem instead of guns. Frustrating in that there really is no way to protect yourself unless you totally live off the grid.

    Thank you Grace for helping to keep the human in humanity and spreading smiles.

  22. I am not on FB or any social media besides Pinterest, which I love. It’s important to me to find what I love and enjoy the most and focus on that and just sort of leave everyone else to do the same. Drama in general feels like time and energy better spent elsewhere.