Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Social Kind of Gal in a Social Kind of World


I overheard two women at the pool griping about Facebook in the locker room. “Who cares what people have had for lunch?” one said to the other. “Strangers are not your friends,” complained the other. “And Twitter is even worse!” I wondered if either one of them had tried the sites, or just disliked them on principal. Every new advance has its naysayers. I’m sure people complained about the telephone (it’s not like being with someone, you can’t see the expressions on their faces!) and email (no one will ever write a letter again!), but the truth is if the new things were less convenient we probably all wouldn’t be doing them.

I resisted Facebook for awhile (and email back in the day) because I didn't get why it would make my life easier. But all in all I’m a social kind of gal. I like parties, I like to chat and I like to hang out. The computer is a little less friendly, but I’m happy to be able to keep up with friends in far away places. There were plenty of people from high school and college that I had lost track of, and I’m happy to hear what they’re up to. I keep up with people I met recently at conferences, and love hearing about their book deals and other writing triumphs.

The biggest problem, as so many have stated so eloquently right here, is that it’s difficult to find time these days to do a writer’s main job – writing books. We write blogs, we write emails and we write updates on sites, and that takes away from the time we have to write books. Or be with family. Or exercise. Or sleep. So what’s the solution?

There is none that I can see. Cold turkey means cutting ourselves off from our social networks, and from fans. I've definitely found new readers through social media and sold books to people I've never met (without burning any gas). But moderation is definitely the key. You can easily spend a whole day tweeting or checking Facebook updates, and never get any writing done. So I ramp up my participation when I have news to share (to avoid accusations of sharing my breakfast choices), a book to promote, or events to invite people to attend. And I dial it all back when I need to finish my book. After all, without the writing, we would have nothing to promote.

So friend me on Facebook, follow my tweets (and I'll follow yours), but don't get offended if I occasionally wander off. I'll be back -- hopefully with a new book to share.



8 comments:

Sophie Littlefield said...

hey meredith...regarding the locker room ladies...i've noticed a definite difference between the way different populations use FB/Twitter and i think that definitely affects people's perceptions of it. for instance, most of my non-writing friends in the community (stay at home moms in their 40s/50s) have FB accts but hardly ever use them, so when they go on it probably seems like a wasteland, and they aren't sharing informational links so much, so there's that. My business type friends are more into linkedin and such and tend to think about how it can help in a work-only fashion. the kids - my teens - are heavy users of fb but think twitter is stupid - and they are way more into sharing pix and video and so forth - interestingly, they're not really so into all the, um, can't think of the polite word for it, the farmland and all that...since most of my writing friends are on both fb/t, it makes the experience a lot more rewarding for me. (also i get to spy on my kids, and YES i made them friend me from the start).

Meredith Cole said...

That's a very interesting perspective, Sophie. I'm on all three networks, and I definitely use them differently (and connect with different people). It's going to be interesting to see if FB can survive through this whole privacy scandal, or what will come down the pike next.

Shane Gericke said...

All right, all right, I'll friend ya :-) Nice essay.

Shane Gericke said...

There IS no polite word for the Farmland stuff, Soph. It's annoying as hell to receive. I'd rather my friends just write!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post. And congrats on your book coming out. While we're on the topic, I had "Meredith Cole's debut novel is out" as my Facebook status for a few days last week, BTW. Hope it reached a few readers. :)

Moderation and balance in social networking as in everything else? That seems so logical and simple...and yet...

Kelli Stanley said...

Nice post, Meredith! :)

I think of all these social networks as different ways to communicate ... like speaking different languages.

The problem is that my linguistic abilities haven't been able to keep up with the plethora of networks! ;)

I think FB will survive, btw ... but I expect another incarnation soon.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Shane! I'll accept your friendship (and hopefully will meet you in person some day!).

Thanks so much Rebecca!!! That's so sweet of you to help me get the word out. It's very exciting to see my little fledgling book leave the nest, and I'm enjoying "launching" it!

Gabi said...

Next time we're at a conference I'm going to shadow you (okay, stalk) and figure out how you do that "like to hang out" thing. Maybe break out of my wall flower self for a little while.