Is Social Media Necessary to Be a Writer in the Modern World?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I believe that’s the case with most people. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on the tail-end of Generation X or that my career is smack-dab in the middle of technology, but I am wary of social media. This is especially true after the recent revelations around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. I knew the data that Facebook had on its users was immense; anytime I’ve had to build something with Facebook’s API, I am astounded by the amount of data that comes when a user connects the app I developed to their Facebook account. For this reason alone, I’ve never had a Facebook account (I use the company’s Facebook account when building with their API).

At various times, I have had Twitter, and Instagram, and Vero, and various other one-hit wonders of social media. One of the perks of being a software engineer is that I often hear of new products or services before the general population, which includes social media. It’s also expected of software engineers that they have an online presence and are active in those services. But, I’ve become less enthralled with all these different apps. Maybe it’s getting older or the dialogue that happens on the apps, I’m not as involved or excited about it all.

So, it was with trepidation that I created Instagram, Vero, and Twitter accounts for Wild Mind (I still abhor Facebook and refuse to open an account). I thought it was necessary to establish my online persona as a writer, a want-to-be author. I’ve heard in various podcasts or read in articles that publishers want authors who have a large following online. Look at Chuck Wendig; he seems to be killing it in that space.

As I started following more people on these accounts, I began to get sucked in. Waking in the morning, I’d find myself scrolling for an hour looking at the latest posts, following links, and my emotions would escalate before I even had my first cup of coffee. Instead of writing, I wasted time in a sort of haze of other people’s thoughts and best versions of themselves. Comparing that to me, still in PJs with a stinky pug’s breath in my nostrils, I came up short.

The recent disclosure of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, as well as the State Department now requiring all visa applicants to disclose their social media usernames for the past five years, were the last straws for me. Why am I worrying about a social media presence when I have yet to even write my novel?! About the only thing I keep up with and brings me value is here on WordPress. I follow a few other writers and a few exciting and inspiring blogs. I’ve had the chance to interact with them. Reading them inspires me to continue writing. Mindlessly slurping up Twitter and Instagram only makes me feel less than or bored with my own life.

I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal (have I said that on here before?). I’m awful at doing things half-way, partially, or incomplete. Kind of how Yoda states, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” This is another philosophy of mine. Yet, I don’t know where I fall with social media. I’ve deactivated my Instagram account. I’ve left Twitter alone but no longer have it on my phone. I still sort of use Vero. I’ve turned off the Google Assistant on my phone, disabled location tracking, and stopped all kinds of notifications.

Is it necessary to have social media accounts if you are a budding writer? If I removed them all, would it harm my ability to write? I believe the answer is “No” but maybe that’s not true. It’s easy to make the excuse to use social media as a way to stay informed and up-to-date with authors or as a way to galvanize my will. Maybe the daily reminders from various Twitter users kept the fire on my ass (my favorite was Daily Death Reminder).

But, none of those reasons will put words down on the screen or pen to paper. Masked in my New Year’s resolution of writing every day is that I want to stop being a content consumer and become a content creator (I know, I know-way to use the buzz phrase du jour, Nicole). Creating content is more meaningful and is active instead of reactive. I don’t want to add to the noise of social feeds; it all gets lost anyway. I find writing here once and a while more fulfilling. I find writing about Peri and Hyde and Jane and now Gray a more exciting way to spend my time (these are characters in my budding novel, if you weren’t aware).

So, I may just remove all the social media accounts. If some publisher is thinking about buying my book after I finish writing it, I doubt it’ll come down to whether or not I have a Twitter account. Then again, that may be the case. I’m not going to make decisions on something that has yet to transpire, though. I’ll remain content by owning my little virtual slice of land here at Wild Mind and call it good enough.

I’m curious as to what everyone else thinks. Has social media been helpful? Do you find value in it? Does it take up too much of your time?