Earlier in the week, I was seriously considering committing Facebook suicide. Can you believe that there’s such a morbid term applied to the decision to stop playing for hours on a social networking site?
I don’t know about you, but Facebook was losing it’s charm for me. MySpace never held any charm for me, it was a necessary evil that I sucked up to early on. I always feel vaguely dirty after having a series of communications there. But Facebook, the more "adult" version, is downright silly. It’s fun. Yes, I’ve found some old friends. Yes, I’ve added a 1,000 applications that have absolutely no bearing on my day-to-day work life. Yes, I’ve been guilty of throwing sheep, taking shots, drunk-dialing, and more various and sundry diversions from SuperPoke.
But is it furthering my goals to be the best writer that I can be? Is it helping me get my work done? Is it doing anything for me at all outside of wasting my time, and being able to openly spy on other people wasting their time, in turn wasting even MORE of my time? I’m exhausted even thinking about that, and I’ve only got a fraction of "friends" that some of my other "friends" have. I can’t imagine how they keep up with this social platform and still complete their work.
I read a great article a few weeks back about the Facebook suicide phenomenon. Granted, this woman’s experience is completely opposite of mine. I’ve only have fun on Facebook, and for the most part, on MySpace as well. Yes, I’ve had old beaus contact me. Thankfully, my husband is an exceptionally confident man and when I tell him (and I always tell him) he doesn’t have a freak out. And none of them are proposing that we get back together or asking me to meet them in dark alleyways, it’s all been nice and aboveboard — see you’ve written a book, good for you, I’m married/divorced/partnered now (yes, the last one gave me a moment of pause…Really? I always thought there was something — sorry, I’m getting off track.)
Crimespace I abandoned early on because I could see that it was going
to be a huge time suck — there’s just too much good information there,
but the spam was starting to get to me. Daniel Hatadi does a brilliant job of running that particular show, and I do stop in on
occasion to read what’s happening. I thought for a while there that the
blogs were going to bite the dust and Crimespace’s virtual bar was
going to supersede all of this, but that didn’t shake out the way I
expected — as is wont to happen, a few people were exceptionally strong-voiced and that took the communal joy out of it for me.
I can’t seem to abandon DorothyL; it’s fascination lies in the incessant flame wars that spring up. There’s always one or two people who have opinions about everything under the sun and feel it necessary to share said opinions. After five years there, I recognize the signs early. It’s pretty much guaranteed who is going to jump into a conversation, bite people’s heads off, get sent to review… sometimes it’s just fun to step back and watch the bloodbath. Mostly I learn, and glean, and take away fabulously important information that I use on a daily basis in my writing and my promotion, but sometimes it’s fun to watch the sharks circle the bloody bait. I mean come on already, are prologues so important/not important that it’s worth sacking London over? Apparently so. Jeez, I’m becoming a virtual sadist.
But here’s the point.
Every moment I spend in this online world is a moment that I’m not working on my material. I’m not writing when I’m glancing over friend requests on MySpace to make sure I don’t add some creep. I can’t seem to give up my blogs, but the ones I read religiously have declined in number. I bailed on my online lists months ago — outside of DorothyL, they were becoming much too time-consuming.
It’s all procrastination, really, in the guise of social networking to give it a purpose. We MUST market ourselves, stay on top of the industry, read every ounce of information each and every person has posited about life, liberty, and the pursuit of a 2,000 a day word count. And let’s be honest with ourselves. How many bestselling authors do you see trolling the lists? Not too terribly many. They’re busy writing their incredible books, are WORKING, not playing. They’ve learned the discipline of the Internet, have harnessed the creative juices to the page, rather than finding creative ways to interact or argue with their friends. This is the goal I’m shooting for.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like the communication. I’m starting to understand that I thrive on it. The Internet is our office. Instead of walking down the hall and sticking our head into someone’s cube, we throw sheep. Instead of having lunch or hitting the gym or having a drink after work, we point and click our way into each other’s worlds. It’s no longer a phenomenon, it is our lives. And I’m afraid it’s here to stay.
But I feel that tick, tick, ticking in the back of my head. I’m getting ready to start writing a new book. When I crawl under that rock, I don’t want the lure of outside temptations, the siren call of procrastination, to be there. I want to focus all my time and energy into the new manuscript. The story is a doozy, it’s going to take independent research as well as field research, including an overseas trip. I won’t have time to throw sheep, or watch my hatching egg grow into a kitten (whoever sent me that, it was adorable!), or compare movie tastes or take likeness quizzes, nor will I have time to read the results of everyone else’s activities.
Couple that with the disconcerting new situation that was bound to happen, the ultimate big brother-esque programming that shares buying habits and demographics with our "friends", and it becomes a slippery slope of privacy invasion. Where do we draw the line?
I don’t know why I’m struggling with this question. After writing this, the answer seems blatantly obvious. Yet I continue to ask, should I commit Facebook suicide? Would the "out of sight, out of mind" adage ring true for me? I certainly don’t want to give up my virtual friendships, I value the opportunity to communicate with each and every one of you. But I don’t seem to have the balance that I want. Writing, reading, Murderati, and promotion. Those are my priorities now. The priorities I should have.
Don’t stop poking me just yet. I’ll admit, every time I see those sheep, I laugh. I had a friend in college who used to read us a book, late at night, under the influence of adult beverages, called "Sheep on a Ship." If you can imagine the inserted lisp… Scheeep on a Schiip… "Scheep sail a schip… on a deeeep sea trip…" and the sheep are pirates… Dear God, I’m in tears thinking about it. So the sheep have a place in my heart.
I’m dying to hear your opinions. Is social networking out of control? Do things like Second Life truly have any bearing on our lives as writers? Are we destined to slog online in an online world, or can we go all hippie, throw out the Internet like giving up a television, trade gigabytes and fast-access DSL for Tess of the d’Urbervilles? And don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the new delivery methods for getting books into the hands of readers, I’m simply wondering about our personal mindset.
Wine of the Week — 2003 Truchard Cabernet Sauvignon A delightful Napa Cab, and no migraine…
P.S. Hubby wants to send me to Facebook rehab, I say, No, No, No!