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There's a Formula for That
And it is constantly changing.
Each morning, when I come in from watering the plants, walking the dogs, and cleaning the pool, I plop down at my desk to check email, news, and social media. I have participated in the social media experiment for nearly twenty years.
For a while, it bordered on addiction. (Who am I kidding? I was definitely addicted.) I was obsessed with “growing my network” and “expanding my business” through social media marketing and outreach. At one point, I surpassed 1500 friends on my Facebook friend list, seeking their likes, though I had no idea who most of them were.
I spent hours filtering, following, unfollowing, and learning algorithms that constantly changed, spreading from Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I downloaded programs to make posting to them all easier, used paid ads, and liked, shared, and commented.
In the end, I spent more time on social media than I did writing and creating, caught up in the claims that if done right, success would be the automatic result. I just needed one amazing post to go viral, one amazing post with the right hashtags, keywords, SEO, current trend alignment, and boosting funds.
Even now, I see other creatives and writers working their online network, things I should be doing I suppose, setting up shops on social media, posting videos of their creative process, sending out newsletters and emails like mine with reminders that they have this for sale, or offer this service, or are currently running some kind of discount. And I think, “I should be doing that.”
According to the “business marketing world,” I should be. But I don’t want to anymore. In fact, I don’t really even want to social media at all anymore.
Studies have shown that Facebook users suffer from a decrease in happiness and overall life satisfaction. Social media leads to obesity, depression, insomnia, social isolation, a decrease in real-life relationships and social skills, unrealistic expectations, and low self-esteem.
But a writer writes. And if there is no audience to read those words — well, then there’s not much point is there?
Over the past two years, I have been trimming my list of personal friends on Facebook, pushing folks over to my author page. I now have 25 friends on my list, and I rarely lose time on the platform. I deleted my Twitter accounts, refuse to join TikTok, and no longer spend my time studying algorithms, determining public, private, or friends only. I have lost all interest in search engine optimization.
I need to grow my subscriber base for this “email newsletter,” which is really a “blog,” a “rambling journal” or some kind of “fan club.” The world tells me I need a niche, a social network — online and in person. I need to boost and share and put myself out there. I can make it happen. I can watch free webinars on how to get more subscribers. I can do guest posts on other blogs, change my writing to please search engines, or…
I can walk the dogs, weed the garden, clean the pool, and spend more time in my creative spaces than in a desk space.
How does social media affect your life? Are you being honest with yourself about it? The average American checks their phone 96 times per day, or once every ten to 12 minutes. A majority actually touch our phones up to 2,617 times per day and unlock our phones 150 times on average. That's a lot.
Imagine if you hugged your child every ten minutes; kissed your husband, stretched your body, or prayed every ten minutes. Imagine if you drank a sip of water 96 times a day, and said, “I love you” to yourself or another 96 times a day. Imagine if you took time to be grateful 96 times a day.
I have one advantage others do not — a lack of cell phone signal here on the farm. It’s a two-mile drive to a signal in the winter and an 11-mile drive in the summer. That’s why I also don’t give folks my cell phone number — there’s not much point to it if I’m home most of the time. (And yes, we could set up to connect via our internet, we just don’t want to.)
I urge you to review your relationship with social media. I understand, truly, how difficult it is to wean yourself off of it. You’re afraid you’ll miss out, you’ll lose contact, be out of the loop.
And it is a loop. Around and around and around, every ten to 12 minutes. I want off of the social media merry-go-round. If it prevents my future success as a writer and an artist, so be it.
If I refuse to friend you on Facebook, I’m sorry. If I connect, and then disconnect, it has nothing to do with you. I don’t text, I don’t Tiktok, I don’t give out my cell phone number, and I don’t want to be a part of social media during the upcoming election year. Instagram is the one I’m keeping. The one with photos that doesn’t include people ranting, the one with minimal political output.
I’m old school now I guess. I love email and snail mail, and being inaccessible. I want to manage my social media on my terms, not by formula or recommendation, shoulds, woulds, or striving for likes, loves, and cares. (Though I do still appreciate shares.) Thank you for subscribing to my medium of choice, and for understanding. If you just popped in on this post online and have not yet subscribed, I offer free and affordable paid options for my old-school choice.
Don’t look for me on Facebook, Twitter, or Tiktok. Don’t look for me to be texting. I’m trying to break my addiction there, and hope you’ll understand. So, I’ll just meet you here at twolanelivin.com, or in your email box where I’ll be happy to strike up a conversation. Or perhaps we can meet at an event or appearance.
And you’re always welcome to come and work with me in the gardens. Just don’t count on getting a cell phone signal.