I’ve blogged fairly extensively about my preoccupation with social media and the unequalled ambivalence it creates in my mind that literally drives me demented. Because it saps my energy and quite frankly, makes me sad.
And then I see the latest cover of The BIG ISSUE with the headline: WHY SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES YOU SAD.
You should read it.
But as a new writer trying to build a brand, get noticed, get more readers and possibly even sell more books, it tells me there is no escape. It’s not even negotiable anymore for both award-winning published authors and self- published newbies alike. The world expects you to be public, online and tweeting all the time. Create a page, blog, tweet, find some more friends on Facebook, connect on Linkedin and Pinterest.
But I don’t really like it. I feel like a fake or a stalker most of the time and I’m confused for the rest of it. I still cannot get my head around why a twenty- something tattoo sleeved Canadian hunk who writes apocalyptic stories with blood dripping off his book covers would want to follow a whining woman with four children who writes with increased cynicism about legal issues in South Africa and relates parenting woes.
And sometimes it scares the hell out of me too. One minute the CEO of HSBC in Hong Kong wants to connect on Linkedin and I’m thinking this could be cool and the next minute I’m getting an email which is clearly a scam to hack into my bank account!
The other morning I woke up to a new Twitter follower: Sex, Drugs and Comics. And I thought maybe it was telling me what I ought to write about but I know it’s just not me. And then I nearly freaked when I got the following notification on Twitter:
The green raver@ the green raver@nikimalherbeYou Poops in your silly crunk goblet@Deadbatteries. And another: You farts in tricky pajamas and drops for the farty sabotage.
I mean, really? Me?
The fact is that books make me think and satisfy me. Blogs can be incredibly informative and I have learnt a huge amount from most of them and FB and Twitter connects me. But they also create angst, can become obsessive, addictive and cultivate FOMO and quite frankly, there comes a point when I need to take a break.
I’ve now accumulated a splendid number of over 200 LIKES on my FB page. I have no clue how this relates to anything about me other than it is probably the most agonizing thing for me to invite people to LIKE my page. Isn’t it? I mean truly. Who goes around in real life with a T-shirt and says ‘ Please LIKE me’. It’s so lame. So, cringe-worthy. The only other thing I can say is that Elizabeth Gilbert has well over 100 000. No comparisons being made here but I do have to write a few more books then, don’t I?
So. Thanks to all of you who have LIKED me thus far and especially those who don’t know me at all and are not FB friends. These are the LIKES that makes me think something’s happening.
But now, spurred on by thousands and tons of blogs and emails and posts and interviews about writing and seeing recent posts about new books being launched though,in particular, by a recent email from Susan Henderson (author of Up from the Blue), I am unplugging for a few months in order to focus and this will be my last blog for a while.
This is what she said:
What I didn’t expect was the clear head. Because I thought social media was something that stole my time, when the truth is it clogged my head.
Let me explain what I mean.
Whenever I signed on to FaceBook or Twitter, I would scroll through feed. What I liked about this was a quick sense of catching up with friends and writers and the world. What I didn’t realize until I let it go of this habit was how much it affected my thinking and my mood.
And so, when I unplugged, it was not so much that I gained time but that my thoughts and feelings were uncluttered. More accessible. I could be more present with my work.
So, while I know some of you are feverishly working to complete a whole novel next month as part of NaNoWriMo which starts on Sunday, I know this is not a feasible goal for . Not while ‘writing’ Matric finals anyway.
But I have to start reaching my own goals. And in order to do this I have to stop reading, blogging and LIKING and start doing.
Before I go, I want to share something Mark Haddon said in an interview with the Guardian a few years ago, after the incredible success of his book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
It’s not about you. No one wants to know how clever you are. Like children, adults need to be entertained. Even those reading to make themselves better people would prefer to enjoy the process. They don’t want an insight into your mind, thrilling as it might be. They want an insight into their own.
I hope that with my next book, I will tap into an insight into your own mind.
‘Til then, take care.