Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Have You Been Diagnosed With A...Social Media?

Good ideas have been coming to me since I became active on my old Twitter account.

Of course, I have to share that story.  I had created a Twitter account wayyyy back in 2010, but I didn’t see much use for it at the time, and I had no clue what I was doing, so I abandoned it.  Then, a bit over a month ago, I was complaining to my daughter that I needed new outlets to let folks know about my stories.

“You need a Twitter account, Dad,” said my social media-savvy daughter.  “You’ll get followers, you’ll tell them about your books and stories, they’ll tell other people, and things will start happening!”

So I did.  I found my old account, spiffed it up a little, and began Tweeting.  And following.  And having ‘favorite’ Tweets.  And retweeting.  As of this moment, I have 743 followers.  I’ve gained them in just a few short weeks, and I’m proud of every one!  When someone begins following me, I send a personal Tweet thanking them, and try to make a short statement or joke about something I’ve read about my new Twitter friend.  I always follow back, unless it’s someone that’s selling followers.  Please.  I would rather have ten genuine followers that are truly interested in me or my work, or are offering real services to independent authors, instead of ten thousand followers that I’ve paid for, that are only interested in my money (and, boy, are they in for a surprise – there isn’t any!).

My daughter was right.

Anyway, back to my original idea:  A few blog entries ago, I shared an idea that I had gotten from a Twitter friend about independent authors supporting independent authors.

I’ve been inspired again.

A new Twitter friend, Brian Chung (@BChungEclectic), had several Tweets on his profile about social media.  The one that struck a chord with me said, “Let us resolve that our growing appetite for #SocialMedia will never devour the time we might have spent reading great books”.

To me, that was pretty profound.

As Americans, we are addicted to social media.  We have blogs (LOL), Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  We check in with our locations on Facebook for some reason…maybe to make our Facebook friends jealous of where we are or what we’re doing.  We send Tweets:  small messages of no more than 140 characters, and they contain mundane things like comments about coffee, or sports, or something else.  Personally, I use Twitter for two things:  Marketing, and trying to make people smile with short sentences.  I offer messages about individual books, or my author pages, or this blog, or whatever I can think of that could be called ‘shameless self-promotion’.  LinkedIn I still don’t understand.  What possible use can it be to an independent author like me to connect with some low-level person at a large corporation?  LinkedIn is great for business people to connect with other business people, but I connect with other authors on Twitter.  I can’t spend that much time on two different social media outlets.

But, by taking the time to connect with others in our social media, it absolutely takes time away from other pursuits, whether it’s reading, or, in my case, writing.  Most of us have jobs that we slave away at least 8 hours a day with, plus a half hour driving to work, another half hour driving back home, time to eat, spend time with your significant other, spend time with your children, spend time with your pets…the list is endless.  And, instead of using some of that free time in pursuits like reading a book or going to an art exhibit or listening to music or composing that poem or story or novel or how-to book, we’re blowing that time!  We’re reading on Facebook about people ‘not needing that drama anymore’ or ‘watch what this squirrel does’ or whatever, and we’re Tweeting away with what we had for breakfast or coffee or books or whatever, and I’m just as guilty!

Brian Chung is right.  Social media has its place, and it has its uses.  I wholeheartedly encourage its use.  But don’t let it keep you from picking up a book, or painting a picture, or writing a poem or a story.  Without those creative outlets, and without that time spent with those that love you, you might as well be made of pulleys and plastic and steel and microchips.

In other words, a drone.

Take a little time away from the computer, or smartphone, or tablet.  Slow down with the social media madness.  Hug your spouse, spend time with your kids, go to a museum, paint a picture, open a book, or turn on your eReader, and…

Keep reading!

Michael (T. M. Bilderback)

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