Is it just me or is the bloom off the rose of social media? Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but it seems to me that as the focus of Facebook and Twitter has changed from, “Look at me and all of the interesting things I’m doing!” to “Buy this!” the social aspect of connecting with friends and family has slowly been leached out of the media.
I’ve never been a big fan of Facebook. I just don’t have enough friends online or off to require a repository to keep up with them. And besides my writing, I don’t have enough interesting happenings going on in my life to require instant status updates. I have to admit, it is much easier to share photos and quick messages with family and my few far-flung friends, but if the news is big enough, we still call each other or text or send an email.
As for Twitter, for me the platform has devolved into 140 character commercials. When I first joined a little over a year ago, the art of the mini conversation–enticing people to connect with you through short bursts of witty banter–was becoming a valid art form. I liked the give and take, matching wits and quotes with like-minded people. The fun of Twitter, however, quickly faded as my posts and follows were greeted with stock replies of, “Thanks for following. Now, please check out my website/blog/author page and buy my book!” I can honestly say that throughout my Twitter adventure, not one long and involved conversation ended without a plea for a book purchase. In some cases, I bought the books; in other cases, I felt manipulated.
Now I know it’s all about the numbers. We’ve been convinced that the more likes and followers we have, the more successful we will be as authors or salespeople or entrepreneurs. (Maybe that’s really one job description: it seems impossible nowadays to be a writer without also being head of sales as well as the leader of our own one-(wo)man band/corporation/organization.) Long gone are the days of hole-ing up to write “The Great American Novel.” Now you have to be “out there” building a presence, developing a fandom with followers. And then you have to write four or five or six more books just like that while you hawk your work on Facebook and Twitter and every new platform that comes along. Forget about writing good books or building relationships or maintaining the ones you have. It’s all about the advertising. Sell, sell, sell! is the new mantra of the upwardly social.
As for me, I’m stepping off the garden path and letting the crowd pass me by. Social interaction makes me uncomfortable hence my comfort in being a cave dweller. As for the internet and life in the social matrix? There has to be a better way.
So, today I’ll leave you with this:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying: And this same flower that smiles today, To-morrow will be dying. Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)
(I wonder how many will remember this from lit class and how many will think of HBO’s Newsroom?)
Very well said you made my train ride go by much smoother!!!!
As a tech geek working for companies that frowned upon the type of social media interaction by employees that Facebook encouraged, I stayed out of the fray for the longest time. When I finally entered it felt as though I came late to the party. By the time I joined in MySpace was old news, Facebook and Twitter were established and it felt my like I was jumping on the bandwagon instead of doing what I prefer, which is to forge into newly discovered territory to see what it’s capable of now and what it could be tomorrow. I will admit that the idea of finding old friends, missing for decades and keeping up with my far flung family interested me, hell downright excited me at times. Still could never really get the point of the over-exuberance.
I’m not sure about Cave Dweller but, I have always wanted to live out in the open and be much more gregarious and social than I am at heart. Unfortunately, whether do to insecurity or overall like ability I have never really fit into most groups and usuall end up on the outside looking in. I thought is the first few months that Facebook might change all that. It might be an opportunity to rekindle some long lost friendships damaged by distance, and create some context for the current relationships that needed assistance, as this medium would allow me to work on my small talk skills. Small talk is not my strong point. What I found instead was, I still didn’t have much to say about the day to day posts of friends and family, not because I didn’t care but because the posts really weren’t about a conversation it was, as Cave Dweller stated, “Look at me and all of the interesting things I’m doing!” Most of which, I really didn’t and still don’t find all that interesting. However, since 2009 I have played along waiting for that moment when the technology and or the society would turn a corner and the interaction I was looking for would happen. I’m still waiting! Like Cave Dweller the only real change I have seen is increasing commercialization by both the companies and the users.
So I guess the short version of my response to Cave Dweller is, I feel your pain so, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” may in this case be about focusing on “Ye” and when its right They may realize, ” Old Time is still a-flying” and begin to follow you for all the right reasons. Not because we barrage them with promotions on Facebook and Twitter.
Chris: Thanks for your comment. I feel like I walk a fine line writing a blog. My intention is to reach out to readers whether or not they buy my books. I learned a long time ago that it is much more important to write for myself than to write for the tastes of others. Writing is simply what I do. And although I would like to be able to consider myself financially successful, and I would love to share my stories with my readers across platforms, I am thankful to be here writing from my comfy cave and sharing my life with those cherished souls who happen to wander by.
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