Photo above: This is a walking bridge in Mission Trails Park where my husband and I have been hiking over the past year. We’ve ALMOST completed our goal of covering every single trail in the park. 65 MILES of trails covering 7,000 acres. I have one more of the five peaks to climb, while hubby has already done the “Five Peak Challenge” in one day!
Dear Friends, here is part III of the four-part series, IN THE NEW YEAR, about my ideas about how I will approach work, writing, and life in 2022. If you haven’t read parts I and II, I encourage you to check them out. As always, please feel free to drop a comment or question.
IN THE NEW YEAR [Part III of IV]
What to Do in 2022
Thinking about all the online issues with social media, data collection, and increasing dependence on smart phones and the internet in almost every aspect of life, I feel coerced; hemmed in; forced to participate in a system I’m increasingly skeptical of. How can I flow with this river rather than fight against it? What can I do to be a peaceful current in the torrent? How can I be an encouragement and ally for others who want to do the same?
We now understand that Facebook has long known how psychologically dangerous their product is to individuals and society. It and other tech companies made social media as addictive as possible through systems of reward and punishment to which we humans are psychologically susceptible. Zuckerberg and friends tricked us into thinking it was all good fun, a great way to connect, and an even better way to stand out in the world while all the time knowing how corrosive their platforms really were and continue to be.
As artists and creatives and entrepreneurs, we were sold social media as a must-have product. Even now, we are led to believe that you cannot have a writing or art career or business without engaging with consumers on social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram.
However, the data isn’t clear, at least for writers, that number of followers correlates positively with actual book sales, especially if you are just looking to break in. (Read the New York Times article below to see the big-name, big-follower sales fails).
It may be true that once you have published a book and marketed it, readers will search for you on socials. There might be a place on social media for engagement with people who have already bought your book and want to connect with you on a more “personal” level. But until then?
I’m not convinced.
In spending our writing time on social media, I believe we “put the cart before the horse” and expect to get somewhere. Meanwhile, what we are definitely accomplishing is creating content and data for AI to mine and use in ways that might actually hurt the people and society we care about.
I think the time’s come for me to reconsider my relationship to social media in 2022. To at least think about it before I continue on my merry old way.
Experts out there also advocate a reset. Check out what Jaron Lanier has to say. Lanier’s a computer scientist, public intellectual, and futurist who first developed Virtual Reality. No joke! He’s very vocal about the dangers of social media and why we should get off it if we are privileged enough to do so. [See the link below to watch a video interview on BBC. Yes, ironically, on YouTube.]
Spending less time on socials takes power away from those platforms. Does anyone really believe unvetted Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tik Tok profiles and channels are the best places to find factual information about important social issues of the day? I am amused when I see online magazines “reporting” on social media posts…and then see social media posts “reporting” on the online magazine piece. It’s circular. It’s insidious. It’s a silo.
Visit me next week to read Part IV: The Wrap Up
How are YOU feeling about social media these days? Do you “buy” the New York Times’s take on the lack of correlation between socials and sales? What do you think about Lanier’s ideas? Check out the links and let me know. I’d love to discuss. XOXO Shelley
Read More At:
The New York Times to learn about social media and book sales
Bloomberg to find out what Facebook knew
The BBC to discover Virtual Reality creator Jaron Lanier