I’m thinking a lot about social media these days. The question that lingers at the back of my mind is: What’s the point? I’m particularly annoyed with Facebook and the changes it keeps making to shove yet more ads and suggestions down my throat. The gap between what the platform used to be – a place for friends to share stories and keep in touch – and today is so enormous that there is hardly anything left to celebrate. Do you feel this way? Or is it just me being grumpy?
That brings me to today’s post which is based on something I wrote several years ago.
Today, we’re all writers. I might go further and say that today we’re all writers and creators because many of the images we see are so carefully constructed to stand out from the everyday. Some of us are videographers as well.
Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat, TikTok, Goodreads are all examples of where people ‘hang out’, writing something for others to read and almost invariably posting photo creations as well. Some choose one social media venue while others are active on many—so many you could reasonably ask whether they do anything else with their time … but I digress.
Consider Twitter for a moment. While a tweet’s length is limited, this social media vehicle was (and maybe still is) acclaimed for its on-the-ground, instantaneous reporting of world-shattering events. But what does it mean if a subscriber merely retweets others and never composes an original thought? Are they uncreative or lazy or merely sharing a point of view that resonates for them? What does it mean if all you ever do is press the like button? Should those who bombard followers with tweets about their latest book, gadget, or service offering be considered spammers? And what about the vitriol that permeates Twitter? Or the piling on that occurs when someone posts a statement that others find offensive? Or the tweets that go viral and ruin reputations as a result?
Some use social media to harass others with unwelcome direct messages or ‘friend’ requests that are spam or are attempts to intrude on the lives of others. Such actions can be creepy and vaguely threatening, the perpetrators thought to be con artists or worse.
Do those who post pictures showing artfully arranged food want to impress others with their culinary tastes and expensive living standards? And what about endless photos and commentary on high-end décor or fashion or travel destinations? Are such people braggarts or are they curators of tasteful life experiences?
As for authors, some offer photos of their everyday lives, many offer commentary on world events or inspiring words about life, some post daily enticements to ‘buy my book’. Book groups are everywhere – historical fiction, cosy mysteries, travel fiction, contemporary, romance. But they too morph as the organizers seek ways to satisfy groups whose interests ebb and flow.
There are bloggers who offer information and insights on almost any topic you can imagine, wonderful blogs with design ideas, travel information, food and nutrition, book reviews, and so on. Some bloggers write about whatever is or is not happening in their lives. And there are blogs serving political interests of all stripes with sound information and passion, while others promote extreme wings of political thought or propagate hatred for specific groups and causes.
As far as most social media is concerned, I feel that we’ve drifted a long way from notions of building community and sharing ideas that might once have driven their development. As far as authors who hope to spread the word to an interested audience using social media – it seems that every tactic works for only an instant before it’s no longer relevant. Social media isn’t very social anymore!
Others have written about this topic with great insight and reams of data to back up their conclusions. This post is merely my own little perspective.
Sorry for the rant. PS – yesterday I deleted the Facebook app from my phone.
What do you think?
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.