A Writer Says Goodbye to the Twittersphere

From Publishers Weekly:

A novelist friend told me that social media is pretty much mandatory these days, otherwise I could expect to remain plankton in a sea of fish all swimming toward the same accolades. As a poet, I’m already used to being a small fry, yet as I move into writing journalism and creative nonfiction, I’ve wondered whether I should log back on.

I quit Facebook in 2014 after a manic episode that reared its Medusa-like head online. My wall was a mess of incoherent thoughts, followed by all the email rejections I’d ever received, copied and pasted from my inbox. For the grand finale, I wrote that I would stage a hunger strike to protest the government’s lackluster care for those living with mental illness. Soon after my last post—but not before I typed out the addresses, emails, and phone numbers of my closest friends (should the news media want to reach out to them for comment)—I was hospitalized and newly diagnosed with bipolar I.

As it turns out, extreme social embarrassment is an excellent way to curb a Facebook addiction. A true introvert and a perpetual validation seeker, I knew my pictures were never cute enough, my posts never witty enough, and I spent hours looking at the profiles of women that guys had dumped me for. “She rides an old-school motorcycle,” I’d think. “Makes sense.”

Post-hospitalization, my friends gently reminded me that their personal information was still online. I deleted my account for good.

My pact to stay off social was tested when I started looking for an agent. I scanned interviews and attended panels in which agents said that a strong social media presence was something they looked for in a client. I read manuscript “wish lists” that expressed a keen interest in working with influencers. I noticed that writers in my social circle had, on average, 20,000 Instagram followers, and some had upward of 50,000 Twitter followers.

At the start of 2021, I gave it a try. One agent advised writers to pick a platform and get good at it. I guessed my strong suit would be Twitter. Like an endless Pez dispenser, I can come up with wisecracks all day. With a few quips queued up, I started an account, waited for something spectacular to happen, and pressed delete the next day.

It just didn’t feel right. As a 41-year-old woman, I chafed at the idea of building a “me” brand. I also objected to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for moral and ethical reasons. I didn’t want to support men who had supported the rise of hate groups, conspiracy theorists, and a racist megalomaniac who committed human rights atrocities at the U.S.-Mexico border that this country has yet to properly acknowledge or reckon with. Both Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey put profit before people—demonstrating how easy it is for tech to manipulate government and destabilize democracy.

I do not wish to discount how essential social media is for connecting people amid a global pandemic. Nor do I wish to ignore or dismiss how critical these platforms have been for social justice movements such as the Arab Spring, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and even #PublishingPaidMe, which revealed deep racial disparities in the amount writers are paid and the ways publishing continues to be predominantly white—from literary agencies to the Big Five (or is it the Big Four?) publishers.

By now, publishers expect writers to become their own publicists and marking team—and I imagine that landing a viral tweet must feel incredible. For me, though, as someone who lacks self-discipline, easily gets addicted to things, and still manages to spend time on Twitter (snooping, sleuthing, and lurking) without an account, social media would put a stake in the heart of my career.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

4 thoughts on “A Writer Says Goodbye to the Twittersphere”

  1. I believe this is a duplicate, posted about a week ago. Because I sure recall laughing at the assumption of some small fry claiming to go on a hunger strike and expecting the media to be all over it.

      • maybe I have to read the whole article to get better context, but bipolar episode or not we have the rantings of someone who seems to think the world revolves around themselves and can’t come to terms if social media is good or not.

        Someone who seems to want a pat on the back because 7 years ago quit social media with a statement of they are going on a hunger strike to get the federal government to allocate more funds to their pet project and then posted contact information for friends and family because they assumed it was breaking news and the media would be all over it.

        Someone needs to inform the author of this article that social media is full of people making extreme statements and I’ve yet to see Dan Rather camped out in front of someone’s house waiting for them to retract their statement on social media.

        If i choose to find it funny that someone is still this entitled seven years later, to each their own. I’ve never claimed to be the most advanced person nor have I ever claimed to have the most politically correct sense of humor. I enjoy watching my dvds of Hogan’s Heroes, Drew Carey Show, and Seinfeld while I read military history. I don’t sit around reading the ancient classics while listening to Beethoven. Go figure.

      • Agreed. Completely uncalled for.

        (The sad thing is that, in many cases, the media is “all over it” – thus enabling the delusions, and making it very unlikely that the sufferer will seek needed help. Fortunately, not in this person’s case.)

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