Look, I’m not a community outreach guru or social media savant, but I do what I can to get my name out there and be involved in the writing community, mostly on Twitter. Not only does doing so provide an opportunity to build one’s brand and create a platform (something you’ll hear about chronically at any writing conference), it’s also more importantly an opportunity to network and make other writer friends.
Recently, though, Twitter’s been bumming me out. Regardless of where I’ve clicked, I’ve found a lot of writerly drama or otherwise disappointing interactions between people who seemed intent on talking past one another rather than engaging in earnest. Between that and the seemingly unavoidable onslaught of doom-and-gloom from the politisphere, it’s been a real sad-trombone-sound-effect place to hang out.
All of this led me to the following questions:
- Is remaining on Twitter to maintain some semblance of a platform really worth it?
- What can I do to emphasize different aspects of my platform, rather than throw everything I’ve got at Twitter?
- What can I do, if anything, to remain engaged without allowing social media participation to get me down?
So let’s take each one of these questions one-by-one to see what the answer to each tells us about balancing engagement and one’s own mental health.
Is remaining on Twitter really worth it?
In a word, yes. For me, anyway, I find that there’s a boom and bust cycle to my feelings about Twitter, which is the case for pretty much everything else in my life, too.
By and large, the writing community is actually very supportive, and I do have some friends over there whose perspectives I value a great deal—even (especially) when those perspectives challenge my own.
Not only that, but remaining engaged gives one an opportunity to continue learning from others, and to also lend support to people whenever possible.
Even with this question answered, that doesn’t mean the solution to getting over one’s malcontent is to simply forge onward and ignore those feelings. So what, then, can one do to still remain engaged when Twitter (or whatever social media) gets too gloomy?
Emphasizing Different Aspects of Platform
Contrary to what we may sometimes let ourselves believe, digital platforms are not the end all, be all to engagement with the writing community. As it turns out, one can still remain part of the community by befriending actual writers in real life (scary, right?).
Through critique partners, writing conferences, book clubs, or other local meet-ups, you can help yourself expand your network without ever stepping a digital foot online to do so. Granted, you might want to use your internet sleuthing skills to find these meet-ups or organize them, but you can always do so through your email inbox and a quick use of Google instead of relying on the networks that may be leaving you drained.
But perhaps you’ve tried to work with other writers face-to-face, and either haven’t found any in your area, or haven’t been able to really establish a lasting connection after having met a few. That’s okay. There are other ways to work on your platform back in the digital realm that don’t rely on being engaged super intensely in the world of social media.
For example, though I’ve withdrawn from Twitter a bit recently, I’ve continued to work on this site and, even more importantly, the writescast.
I may not be doing as much promo or outreach for the podcast right now, but I’m still actively scheduling and conducting interviews, as well as editing future episodes to continue expanding this aspect of my platform. You may not have a podcast to keep grinding away at, but maybe you have a blog. Maybe you’ve been neglecting posting reviews on Goodreads. Maybe you’ve been thinking of starting with either of these things, but haven’t quite been ready to make the jump.
Now could be that time.
What can be done to remain on social media while also not letting it get you down?
Though Twitter was the primary aggravation for me this time around, I (very aware of the irony) took to Twitter to ask this exact question. Rather than rephrase the responses of other folks, I’ll just copy and paste some of the advice I received below.
List the ppl you want to engage with. Avoid your feed. When ready turn off retweets. Mute words. Unfollow/mute. It's the only way I cope
— Stefanie Simpson (@Simpson_Romance) November 3, 2017
I ignore my timeline and just search up the people I want to engage with that day. Also I check @goodnewsnetwork every day and retweet
— Dee Lancaster (@dee_lancaster) November 4, 2017
I took them off my phone and require myself scheduled 15 min increments on my computer only 1-3x/d. NO notifications AT ALL.
It really helps
— Rachel Berros (@BerrosRachel) November 3, 2017
Pay attention to who RT's what and turn off RT's if you have to. It's a lot of work though, if you follow a lot of people.
— Michelle (@PrairieSky_27) November 3, 2017
Honestly, I unfollow/mute the worst "offenders". Fill feed instead with artists who post pretty things/ppl who aren't posting bad news.
— M (@madicienne) November 3, 2017
@madicienne actually has a nice thread of responses that follows below the above tweet. I definitely recommend checking it out in its entirety.
The moral of the story is that returning your feed to your control can help stave off the social media blues. I’m slowly putting the above advice to work, and it’s been helping me for whatever that may be worth.
I’m not arguing that social media is complete and total garbage and that its use should be discontinued completely. At the same time, it’s not a cure-all for anything but perhaps boredom, and that’s questionable at best. It all comes down to balance, which is the most important thing to keep in mind, in my opinion.
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