How Does a Writer Balance Social Media and Writing?

Facebook.  Tweets.  Status updates.  Micro-blogging.

Everyone who’s anyone is all over social media these days.  To hear pundits tell it, social media is the best thing since sliced bread.  And if you’re an author or an inspiring author, “don’t leave home without it.”

Fine.  Now take a closer look.  “Social media” may be media, but is it really “social”?

Really?

“Social” means community.  Relationships.  Connecting, sharing, collecting, mutuality.  Give and take, as opposed to isolation “flying solo.”  Some of that does exist on the more popular social media channels.  You may even share links, retweet and reciprocate.  And you should.  But using social media to “build relationships”?  Really?  I’ve had occasion to rethink this lately.
What kind of “relationship” can you build with a status update?  Do you really get to know a person, what makes them tick, keeps them up late at night, or their favorite dessert in a 140-character tweet?  Oh, and one other thing.  Social media lends itself to full-blown narcissism like ugly on an ape.  Don’t go there.

Choose

Now, there’s nothing wrong with using social media to “get your message out” or “connect.”  But let’s realize it for what it is: a mile wide and a quarter inch deep.  A springboard, not the whole pool.   Let’s not confuse status updates with a genuine conversation.  Choose face-to-face over online whenever we can.

If you’re burying yourself in “social media” rather than having dinner with the fam, playing catch with the kids, or talking to gramps on the phone, you’re giving yourself and your relationships short-shrift.  If checking your email has turned into an addiction, see that for the red light it is.  If you’re more intent on blog stats than connecting with real flesh-and-blood humans, figure out what’s real and realign your priorities.

That old country/western tune got it right.  If you’re looking for real relationships with real people via a keyboard and an electronic box made for one, you’re “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Go the extra mile

IMHO, writers need to go the extra mile in cultivating “social.”  Writing is a solitary endeavor.  It’s easy to “roll back the sidewalks,” close the door, burrow into your writing world and then fool yourself into thinking you’re “connecting” in any substantive manner through social media alone.

If you’re tweeting and blogging and Facebook-ing, great.  Just don’t stop there.  Get out and meet some new people.  Acquire a new hobby outside your own four walls.  Join a book discussion group.  Invite a neighbor to dinner.  Pick up the phone and connect with that friend you’ve “been meaning to call.”  You’ll not only gain some friends, but you’ll probably harvest a bumper crop of fresh story ideas and inspiration, too!

Don’t wait.  Do it today.

How do you balance “social” with “media”?

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