Streamlining My Online Life

There’s a prevailing myth that an artist or creative person needs to be on social media to build and maintain their presence. There is some truth to that, but I think we’ve gone past the tipping point.

The internet, and social media in particular, have been a powerful democratizing force over the last decade or two. I’ve talked on the podcast with several guests about the way that the publishing industry is following a similar path that the music industry did. While the industry was going through transition and the traditional delivery mechanisms seemed to be failing, a whole new generation of artists were connecting directly with their audience. I think Colby Callait is a prime example of a person that found an audience on MySpace (remember that?) and used that to launch a career.

A few years ago Amazon became an indie publishing juggernaut with the combination of their KDP self-publishing platform, their book store becoming the dominant player in the bookselling space, and their Kindle devices and apps for nearly every device that for the first time allowed ebooks to become a viable, and widely accepted way to read books. So writers had a way to bypass the traditional gatekeepers and sell their books directly to their audience. Now to find that audience…

So Facebook and Twitter became flooded with authors trying to vie for the attention of readers. I for one have met some wonderful people through Facebook especially, and some of those people have become some of my most treasured friends and we talk often, even though we live in different parts of the country, and even the world. As a lifelong geek, I love that technology is connecting us in meaningful ways. It can also become a real distraction from the thing that we first set out to do, and that’s write and create.

A lot of people are really upset with these online platforms lately because there has been a breach of trust in some users’ minds. I’m actually not upset about this. From the very beginning I have understood that if a company is offering you such a service for free, there has to be a catch. If there is no product, it is safe to assume that YOU are the product. I have always understood that by using the services I am giving away a piece of my privacy and allowing another company to host my interactions and some of my writing. That trade has been beneficial in some ways, but with diminishing returns.

I am not going to be the reactionary guy that loudly shouts that he’s leaving Facebook or Twitter. But I do realize that I need to cut way back in my time that I spend on these platforms. What started as a way to connect with people quickly becomes and obsession. When you have Facebook open in a tab of your browser all day long and you constantly look over to see if you have a notification, something is wrong. If you stop creating to check your messages, something is wrong. If there is more emphasis put on building your platform that on writing books, playing music, painting or building, something is wrong.

So this is what I’ve done. I uninstalled the social apps from my phone. What I realized is that I spend a lot of time scrolling when I have a spare minute. I still access Facebook via the browser on my phone when needed, but the extra step and the lack of notifications is really freeing. I also only open social media on my computer for a few minutes at a time instead of having the temptation ever present.

I host this podcast multiple times per week and I am fortunate to have real conversations with people. I love this interaction, and I love when other people chime in to talk about what they’ve learned from the show, or share comments about the shows. I welcome the conversation here at my website. I even installed a forum where we can talk about writing and the writing life. Click on the forum link above, I’d love to see you there.

The other thing I embrace wholeheartedly is email. I appreciate the fact that you can take your time and say what you want to say instead of just firing off a response in the heat of the moment. My email address is hank at authorstoriepodcast dot com. I’d love to hear from you.

These are just a few things that I am doing to streamline my life. I love technology. I love that we live in the future, but I would be remiss if I didn’t pause to consider if I am making the best use of my time in the future.

Happy writing.

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