What do I do with Social Media? This isn’t going to be a long post.

It might last a few lines. I’m not even sure you’re there.

Existentialism aside, when you’re on a social media platform it can feel like you’re delivering a soliloquy in the darkest abyss of an underwater cave thousands of light years from humankind. But, there is a thrilling and joyful side to Social Media.
Imagine one day, you decide to write a few sentences to one of your favourite authors on Instagram, A few days later, you discover that she’s WRITTEN BACK TO YOU! She’s sent you a comment, in fact she’s answered your question.

Through the magic, mystery and utter cleverness of this teleporting-of-words-and-pics we cross paths with others. You stumble across this world of kindred spirits and engage in the art of communication. It’s different to chatting with your friends side by side, it is different to calling friends on a phone, but as an addition to these modes, it increases opportunities for connection. That has to be good. Doesn’t it?

High Flyers and Me

I have an old fashioned habit of buying the weekend paper and reading articles. I always read the section where they interview bright high flyers in the corporate world or government sector. There is always a question inquiring about the interviewee’s use of social media. I zoom in and am enormously encouraged by their deflected responses. ‘Oh yes,’ they say, ‘It is terribly important, but I don’t actually do anything on it.’ They continue with, ‘Our company has a FB page and I am on LinkedIn,’ or they say, ‘My office manages our Social Media.’ I am cheering them on and hooting and punching my fist in the air. Big note to myself; clearly I too am a high flyer. Hang on, I think to myself, these people are all ten years either side of my age. Maybe we are all playing out the consequences of being generation #X? Plus they have someone to manage it.

I Do

It is irrelevant, as I have succumbed. As a writer, I find it a vital and engaging way to keep in touch with a number of groups and writers. I receive updates and information on courses and events, and I participate in numerous author blogs and FB pages. I’m probably not going to be offered a position in Google, since most of my energies are spent on writing and relying on word of website mouth, my Facebook page, the blog, a little twittering, Instagram and email.

The benefits of social media far outweigh the alternative of standing on the street corner and shouting but I appreciate that it takes time away from thinking and writing. I do not relish the dedication and commitment required to maintain a presence on the numerous platforms, but I also don’t like the idea of having my books sit in cyber space unread. Communication is transforming with each upgrade (or so it seems), and with each new device. I’m still a little concerned about those being left out of the digital world and those for whom the emphasis on visual media is quite confronting. But I’m heartened by the call to action against the artifice of media, and the power it has to inform others.

And Where Are We Going?

In the spirit of things, I have taken to ebooks, podcasts, zoom videos, my own videos and I’m learning code- tiny morsels of it. Technology abounds but it hasn’t taken over my house. I thought there’d be far less cleaning for starters (the automatic bathroom cleaner and oven scrubber hasn’t made it to my home yet).

Social Media is a game changer. It’s an incredibly vital tool of engagement for all authors and specifically for those independent self-published authors. I still love meeting readers at book clubs, events and chatting to them in real life, and I think if anything, social media has increased the attendance and interest in writing and book festivals. What’s not to love about that?

What favourite social media platform do you prefer for your writing or reading interest?

AJR

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