Social media slowly came into existence in the early 2000s. The first to enter the online world was MySpace in 2003. Facebook: 2004. Reddit: 2005. Tumblr: 2007. Pinterest came about in 2009 and Instagram in 2010. Message boards predated all of those. I have fond memories of my days discussing the franchise on the Star Trek dot com message boards, and a few others whose names I can no longer remember. Just as message boards had their time and place, so does every social media platform.
They say that one of the ways to be a successful, published author, one should have a super strong social media presence. While having loads of followers does help, and I’ve seen it work out quite well for many, I’m not entirely positive this absolutely has to be the case. Do your readers actually want to interact with you? Do you with them? Should having a online presence be a qualifier for publication?
That’s what this blog post will be about. I’ll either talk myself into or out of a specific platform as I reassess my involvement online for 2021. 2020 was a brutal year in the online world. It’s no longer a safe place for opinions – if it ever truly was. There’s a “herd mentality” that comes along with social media and, if one goes against the grain, they’re ostracized. Okay, that’s a strong word. If you’ve spent any length of time online, I think you get what I mean. Here are my thoughts on the top four big platforms, and if I’ll continue using them in 2021.
I don’t know about you, but throughout the course of 2020, all forms of social media have lost their charm. My feelings about the online world began to change back in February with Facebook, during the first rumblings of COVID-19. I hadn’t had an account for nearly a year and a half at that point and thought to start a page again because we didn’t know what the future would hold in terms of seeing family during Pennsylvania’s shut downs in March. When I saw just how ferociously my family argued with one another over (what felt like) every little thing, I threw caution to the wind and deactivated that newly made account. I want to keep on loving my family without the inclusion of politics.
Will I continue using Facebook? No
“An open Facebook page is simply a psychiatric dry erase board that screams, “Look at me. I am insecure. I need your reaction to what I am doing, but you’re not cool enough to be my friend. Therefore, I will just pray you see this because the approval of God is not all I need.”― Shannon L. Alder, source
On Instagram (which is now also under Facebook), if you don’t have that “aesthetic,” or don’t have the same views as those who are also popular, their algorithm won’t favor you and you’ll be in the Tiny Account Trenches. No matter which hashtags you use. I used to think it was just because I didn’t want to take the time to type out descriptions or include something fanciful to get noticed. No. I think, once I realized Facebook bought out Instagram, that killed that app for me. Occasionally I post on IG, but it’s main use now is to keep in touch with an old school MMPORG friend from my college days.
Will I continue using Instagram? Yes
“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant”― Ralph Waldo Emerson, source
Pinterest is the only social media platform I’m still trying to figure out. And because I’m still learning how to use this platform, I find myself enjoying it more. Things are less instantaneous, you don’t see the politics that Twitter loves to throw at everyone, and one can curate their experience. This is how Facebook used to be, way back in the early 2000s. Back then users had more control over what they wanted to see. Now it’s “here’s what a friend of a friend of a friend” liked or posted. Because you know so-and-so, surely you know these folks as well!” Not so with Pinterest. I love that users can not only share images and links, but create “mood boards” for practically any reason. It’s a platform of more practical use.
Will I continue using Pinterest? Yes
“People who smile while they are alone used to be called insane, until we invented smartphones and social media.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana, source
Here’s the platform I struggle with the most: Twitter. Many times this year I’ve wanted to “rage quit” Twitter. The platform thinks every topic is political. And people are just angry in general. While I love the fact that it can connect you with other writers and individuals in the industry, and what it’s done for my website this past year, I find myself lonely more often than not. I see everyone else chatting with each other and, even though I try adding something to the conversation, I feel oft ignored. Not only that, but the constant online contests stress me out (I’m a slow writer, what can I say?). As such, I’ll be following as many blogs as I can in January 2021, and I’m permanently deleting my account the first week in February. It’s all become just a little too much.
Will I continue using Twitter? Maybe
“Social media not only snatches your time, but it also teaches you attention deficiency.”― Neeraj Agnihotri, Procrasdemon – The Artist’s Guide to Liberation From Procrastination, source
Huh – so it looks like the decision to leave Twitter was a lot easier than I thought it’d be. I’m one of those “all or nothing” individuals, and I’ve found myself a little too into Twitter and not so much into my writing. I very strongly feel that if I can remove one of the last modern barriers that continuously distracts me from my goal of being a published author one day, then I’m going to do it. Heck, if I can get rid of all streaming services AND not even have a tv plugged in for nearly a year, then I think I can detox from social media. It’s time to focus on the art of writing once again, and step away from social media in 2021.
*This post was updated December 31st, 2020