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Avoid Social Media’s Big Lie

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Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Pinterest. The list of social media options gets longer every day. And so does the pressure to be an active participant. No matter what dream you’re chasing or business you’re pursuing, the experts say you need to be involved in social media. It’s important, they say. It’s necessary if you want to be heard in today’s noisy world. It’s the way things are done.

I’m not arguing any of that.

But here’s the part they’re not saying: it’s not real. It’s an illusion, a virtual world.

Because it’s anonymous, it can hide predators and lead to awful things like cyber bullying.

But it’s also easy and fun and spending time there can be hugely addicting.

Unless we’re intentional about it, we can find ourselves somewhere we don’t want to be. Alone. Lonely. Someone with thousands of virtual friends, but no solid relationships with real people.

Several recent car commercials illustrated the irony quite well. The kids were home alone in front of their computers worried that their parents weren’t involved in social media and have no online friends. Meanwhile, the parents were out bicycling and laughing with real live friends.

It’s funny. But it’s not.

It’s so easy to get sucked in and realize we spent all our time in front of the computer conversing with cyber-friends and associates–and none talking to real people.

Social media’s pull is strong, and getting stronger. The pressure that we “have to” be involved in all of it–all the time–if we’re going to succeed, is huge.

Learn to say no.

Find the social media streams that make sense to you, and dip your toes in. Slowly.

Limit your online time. Turn Facebook and Twitter off your phone for a few hours every day. The world will not slide off its axis if you’re unavailable for a while, I promise.

Unplug. Deliberately.

Quiet the noise on a regular basis and call someone–instead of texting. Meet for coffee, instead of chatting via Skype from across town.

Sure, all the social media options can make staying connected easier.

But we are kidding ourselves if we let it replace time with real people.

That said, I’m off to spend time outside with a bunch of fifth graders.

What do you think? How much time do you spend on social media every day? How do you keep it in check?

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    The Conversation

  1. Debby Mayne says:

    Connie, I totally agree with you. It’s so easy to get caught up in social media, we forget to make time for “real” interaction. Over the past two or three months, I’ve intentionally started backing off social media and limiting myself to checking in twice a day. I think balance is essential.

  2. Ruth says:

    An excellent reminder that the social media mask isn’t necessarily the real person behind it. Thanks so much for the article.

  3. diane burke says:

    So true, Connie. If I had a choice between social media and a good cup of coffee and face-to-face with a friend, I’d take the in person time everytime.

  4. Jan Romes says:

    Connie,

    A lot of truth in your words. The lure is strong for those of us who are newly published (for me it started a year ago). We’re told it’s up to us to get the word out about our books. Once we dip our toe in the pond, the pond swallows us — for awhile anyway. If we’re lucky, at some we realize that the world will not end if we’re not online every second. Thanks for such an insightful reminder. Darned social vacuum sucking media!! ha ha Have a great week!

  5. Lisa Hannah Wells says:

    Geez, and here I thought it was a requirement if I were to try to sell any of my books, to be able to have a career with my writing like I always wanted. If not through social media, then how? I mean the publishers pretty much leave all that up to us. How else do we get our name out there?

    Lisa Hannah Wells

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Lisa, good question. Social media is part of being an author these days, no doubt about it. But we need to keep it in balance and not let it suck the life out of us. It’s part of what we do–it shouldn’t be ALL we do, or the only way we communicate. That’s all. 🙂

  6. Hi Connie – I absolutely hate this aspect of being a writer. I feel forced to be out there because, frankly, publishers had virtually stopped promoting their authors. I’m a small fish in a big sea, so I feel compelled to give it my best shot to get my name and book titles out there. I do draw the line at many things, though. I like to read blogs and comment, I am on facebook, and I have a website that I keep updated. Oh, and I’m on Goodreads, too. But that’s it. I do not tweet, tumblr, or pin pictures to imaginary cork boards. Cannot, will not, and simply do not have time, to go there.

    Thanks for listneing to my rant. 🙂

    • Connie Mann says:

      Go, Lynne! I like your rant. 🙂 I think you’re very wise. None of us can possibly keep up with ALL the types of social media. There seems to be a new one every week. Pick what works; ignore the rest. And then we go live our lives.

  7. Julie Steele says:

    Very true. I loved being unplugged on my last vacation but I did miss instantly being able to share pictures of the trip.

    Everyone has moved on to Twitter it seems. I just can’t get into it even though I have an account. Or maybe it is because I can’t limit myself to that few words!

    Peace, Julie

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Julie–good for you unplugging on your vacation! People will still enjoy the pictures afterward. 🙂

      I just joined Twitter and feel like an alien wandering a foreign land. I’m sure we’ll figure it out!

  8. I don’t have social media or any type internet on my phone. It’s a choice my husband and I made. I limit my SM time to three times a day, same as meals, to answer email, comments and read blogs. As far as SM in general, I don’t like that small children have pages for people to find them. On the other hand, I’ve now connected to family I haven’t seen in over forty years.

    • Connie Mann says:

      I think you’ve hit the dilemma on the head, Sandra. Like most things–there is good and bad.

      But I like the way you’ve put limits on your SM access and time, “same as meals.” Good idea. Very smart.

  9. Diane O'Key says:

    Absolutely right, Connie. Social media is overwhelming. Much rather talk with someone face-to-face. All the texting/plugged-in-24/7 younger generation…well, it worries me. Gotta say, for me it’s the hardest part of being a published author. Hate it…most of the time, anyway.
    Diane

    • Connie Mann says:

      Diane–I appreciate your honesty. For so many of the writers I talk to, myself included, it’s a love/hate thing. It can be good and it can drain you, big time. As long as we control it–and not the other way around–I think we’ll be ok.

  10. I’m still getting acquainted with Twitter and trying to figure out how it would work best for me as an author. One of the answers I’ve come up with is that it’s a great way to communicate quickly with readers and potential readers. The trick is to get readers to follow you. Right now, my followers are most other authors. I’ve told myself that getting readers as followers takes time; it’s all part of building a reader base. But if there are any other ideas out there how to more proactively attract those followers, besides putting your Twitter name on everything you do, I’d like to hear them.

    Barbara Barrett

    • Connie Mann says:

      Hi Barbara–as a Twitter newbie myself, my knowledge is limited, but like most reader-base building, i think it will simply take time.

      But if anyone else has ideas, I’m all ears. 🙂

  11. Shannon McNear says:

    Thanks for your post, Connie! It’s definitely addicting, and very deceptive. The thing for me has been to focus on social media (namely Facebook) as a tool to help me better connect with the real people I care about. I’ve cut my friends list to those who I’ve had actual, meaningful conversations with, either online or IRL (“in real life”). I’ve had family members who live halfway across country express their gratitude for my letting my mid-to-older teens have pages and post, because for the first time in all the years we’ve lived far away, they feel a sense of connection. In that sense, social media has become part of the fabric of our “real” lives, and it’s a matter of keeping it in balance, as with all things.

    And sure, I’d rather sit and have coffee with friends than do Skype … but I’ve been so grateful for Skype as a way to stay a little more connected with my husband working overseas. 🙂 Again–proper use, proper perspective!

    That said, when it comes to connecting with readers and promoting our work, I recently heard one well-known author encourage others to pick just THREE forms of social media and focus on doing them well. Don’t spread yourself too thin!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Great advice and insight, Shannon! Used right–great tool. Used without thinking–daily addiction, or worse.

      “Pick just three forms of social media and focus on doing them well.” Excellent suggestion.

      Thanks so much!

  12. What you said, Connie.:) I totally agree.