Writing 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 know 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. We 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 through 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… blathering 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.
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 air, 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.