Writer’s Insights: Why I Suck at Social Media
I disappeared again last week. Things got very busy, and while there have also been some issues going on, I was mad at myself. Why am I so bad at keeping on top of my blog? Why am I so bad at keeping up my social media efforts?
Other people seem to manage just fine. I’m sure they’re just as busy, if not more so. So what gives?
My Network Is Limited
I find social media very, very difficult. It’s easy for me to just forget about it, especially when things get busy. Why?
None of my friends really use it, for starters. One of my very good editor friends much prefers different channels to the ones I use. And that’s fine. Other friends simply … don’t have Twitter or Tumblr or even Instagram. They don’t see the reason.
So I don’t have a lot of people to engage with on social media. And that makes it a pretty lonely place to be. Then, when I get busy, it becomes very easy to disengage with it. Since I’m not engaged in groups or conversations, I don’t feel a true draw to be here, to connect with people.
I’m Terrified of You
So why don’t I just make some new friends? That’s what social media is about! Here’s the catch: I’m a pretty shy person. I see all kinds of interactions on Twitter, for example, and I often nod my head or agree or even want to offer up a comment of encouragement or advice.
But I think I’ll be perceived as a pest. An interloper. “Who is this person, and why is she talking to me? Ugh.” Even if all I want to do is say, “I completely agree!” or something, I firmly believe my comments aren’t wanted and will be perceived as an intrusion.
So I lurk. I write out entire conversations in my head, and post nothing. I favorite or reblog here, but I don’t engage. Not necessarily because I don’t want to, but because I’m shy. I always have been. In groups of people, I prefer to lurk, nodding.
In school, I hated presentations. I have had full on panic attacks when asked to stand in front of my classmates—even very supportive classmates. I have to give myself a pep talk as I walk down the street, telling myself, assuring myself, “Oh, that person there, they have no idea why I did that. They can judge all they want, they don’t know what I’m doing.”
Putting Yourself on Display
Now I’m putting myself out there in 280 characters or less, for everyone to see. For everyone to take what I say out of context. To judge me on. Perhaps even to attack me for. So I sit down and shut up. It’s less terrifying that way.
Of course, there’s a plethora of reasons I’m not good at social media. I don’t really use it, so I don’t necessarily understand all of it. I’m baffled by Tumblr right now. Don’t even get me started on Snapchat.
I’m also a relatively busy person. I’m ultimately still picking up the pieces of my life. I just made a huge switch to being full-time freelance again last year. It’s been one of the best moves of my life; I’m making more money and I’m my own boss. There’s still stress and busy-ness, of course, and the business is on track to expand something like 50 percent this year, which is insane. I had to hire someone, so it’s growing pains and all that.
And all of that, coupled with an anxious and shy nature means I tend to shy away from social media, rather than embracing it.
At the End of It, I’m an Introvert
I wish I understood better. I want to make new friends, particularly new writing friends. I’m always a bit jealous when I see people—authors and readers—who have these great friendships, amazing exchanges on their feeds. Talking about WIPs and their characters, interacting with readers and other writers.
I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I’ve never collaborated with anyone on anything. I want to, sometimes. But I often feel like the handful of writing friends I do have simply shut me down. The lone other author in my circle that I consider a good friend is very busy. My editor friend prefers not to write with me, and she dabbles more in fanfic. Another friend writes fanfic as well.
Even in my fanfic writing days of yore, I mostly worked alone. I got burned very badly a couple of times with other writers and beta readers, so I’ve tended to shy away from collaborations. Most of the time, however, I just don’t know where to turn to find support. And, in turn, I often find I end up being the person giving support and advice, not necessarily receiving it.
I’m the Support Person
I have tried joining writing circles before. I mostly find them places where people coalesce to pat each other on the back about not being better writers. The few times I’ve received critique through these groups, it hasn’t been helpful. Most often, I’m one of the stronger writers in the group, which encourages people to turn to me for advice. Since I’m busy enough as is, I don’t really have time. Offering up support and advice becomes yet another thing I have to do.
And it’s not that I don’t like giving support or advice. I’m an editor. That’s kind of what I do in my day job. It’s that, because I often don’t receive much back, this becomes yet another drain on finite resources (particularly time, and occasionally empathy). I’m also someone who feels social obligations rather strongly, so when someone is waiting for my feedback, I become increasingly stressed if I delay it.
I Don’t Have Time for High School Immaturity
The other thing that I find often happens in these groups is people get cliquey. If you’re not in, you’re out. A “mean girls” mindset tends to dominate. I’m seeing this proliferating through publishing as well.
I don’t have time for that bullshit. I never have. If you like me, you like me, and if you don’t, you don’t. I’m usually pleasant, and I understand the importance of professional diplomacy. That said, I won’t hesitate to avoid you or make it clear you’re on my shit list if you’ve behaved poorly in the past.
I’ve never done the mean girls thing. I ended up getting hazed by the “cool crowd” in the fifth grade. They invited me to play with them. At every recess for the better part of two weeks, we played a game and they would arbitrarily change the rules to suit them.
I told them to fuck off. I spent most of my fifth grade year in social isolation, but I was much happier with that than the stress of their social hierarchy. And I had to spend five days a week in class, in person, with these people. An online writing circle is even easier to drop out of.
Trying to Improve
Ultimately, I’d like to get better at social media. But social anxiety holds me back, more so than time constraints, although that also plays a role.
This isn’t a “please be my friend!” wah post. This is merely me exploring why I suck so hard at Twitter and other social media networks. Why I allow myself to fall off the map for weeks or even months on end. It’s an exploration of why I fail to make great connections other people appear to make relatively easily. I’m sure that, behind the scenes, things aren’t as easy as they appear.
Maybe someday I’ll have more courage to use social media like I should. Maybe someday I’ll be less of a lurker. But probably not today.