Social Distancing: An Announcement
I joined Facebook about eleven or twelve years ago, right around the time I self-published my first novel, Faking It. I joined Twitter not long after that. Instagram way more recently. Thanks to these platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter, I connected with people that I never would have had the chance of knowing, several of whom have become close friends. I even met one of them in person for the first time at my wedding. Furthermore, when I’d launched Faking It, I was hoping to reach a few reader networks based on the places I’d lived. Social media changed that for me, and I was able to reach readers in places I’d never imagined.
Moreover, Facebook helped me connect—and reconnect—with family and friends, and even healed a few old wounds. It meant so much to me especially to be able to see how my cousins were doing and get to know them a little better.
Heck, it’s likely that my husband and I wouldn’t have gotten together had it not been for Facebook. Not that we’d met there, but the daily interaction helped build a long distance friendship, and we did the rest.
Those were the good ol’ days.
Facebook was much more benevolent back then, although you would still see some clashes break out from time to time. I had seen that previously in blog comment sections and chat forums. But there’s been an increasingly dramatic shift over the years with all social media platforms. While the illusion is to be connected—to readers, fellow authors, favorite bands, family and friends—the reality is that were disconnected. Estranged. In the world of social media platforms, we are not the consumer, but the product. We are a commodity to be traded and manipulated. And the manipulation is so subtle we hardly notice it.
I don’t wish to be preachy here, or even doomsday—social media already does too much of that—but I’ve known for a while now that my time on social media has been making me increasingly depressed, overwhelmed, angry, powerless, and even ill. Every time I have thought about leaving, I hear voices over my shoulder: If you leave, you’ll never get your readers back. What little you have left in sales of your books will be gone. You’ll never be able to attract new ones.”
And not just readers. In the last few months I’ve begun new endeavors that I’ve been hesitant to talk about here because a) I’ve not wanted to cross-pollinate them, and b) I didn’t want to come off as self-promoting (which could eventually be another blog post altogether). But with each business I started new Instagram and Facebook pages, and I figured that pouring my attention into them in positive ways would be a way of balancing out the bad stuff. Plus, I needed new clients, and I was getting some as a result.
However, I can’t shake the knowledge and the feeling that I’m feeding a beast that is out of control and doing damage to our planet and our people day by day, minute by minute, eroding both.
I am also convinced that social media is the reason why I’ve spent the last couple of years floating and flailing from one thing to the next. I’ve lost the ability to sustain focus and momentum. I’ve lost energy. I’ve lost hope.
And so I’m taking a massive leap into the unknown: I’m leaving social media.
In a lot of ways, this feels like a divorce. Loved ones are going to get caught in the crossfire. I’m going to miss people. I’m going to miss birthdays. I’m going to miss events and updates. I’m going to potentially lose business.
It’s a scary thing to do, to give up all these connections especially during a time when our physical communities have been taken away from us. I feel as if I’m severing a lifeline.
However, I also feel like I’m breaking a chain.
I am not becoming a Luddite and relinquishing my smartphone and Internet connection (although I am removing some apps). And I won’t be completely unreachable. I still have a mailing list that will be playing a more prominent role in my intention to inform and connect and sell my products. I hope many of you will subscribe if you haven’t already. And if you have, I hope you’ll check your Spam boxes and make sure the emails aren’t getting sent there. I still have my website that I will be updating and looking into ways to maximize its potential. You can always email me via the Contact Me page on my website. Also, I’ve already got at least one Zoom event planned for early November (more on that to come—this is one incentive to get on the mailing list, so you’ll hear about it), and I hope to have more in the months to come.
And in the meantime, I will be, as my husband would say, uncoiling the tightly wound spring of these last few years. And, if all goes well, performing a little alchemy.
Many people in my tarot/oracle card-reading circle of friends and mentors have been on a quest for meaning and purpose during this pandemic, and throughout the turmoil of 2020. Speaking only for myself, I thought, among other things, that there was an opportunity to be of service in ways other than writing, and to jump-start new businesses and ideas. Plus, I needed to make money for the same reasons we all do. The work has been fulfilling in many ways, and I have been and will continue to be of service.
However, there’s a message I’ve been ignoring, and I think it’s something we as humans are often afraid of:
Withdraw. Go within.
This weekend, I could no longer ignore the call, even despite my objections of having just started to gain momentum in this business, and needing to ease the burden my husband has shouldered (not to mention the guilt I’ve shouldered as a result of my repeated failed attempts to do so). Social media has not been the tool, but rather the weapon. It’s not been the outlet, but the prison. It’s not been the focus, but the distraction. It’s not been the connection, but the diversion. It’s not been the means to wealth, but the source of poverty, especially emotional and spiritual. I am speaking only for myself here.
It has been the addiction.
I fear I will not be successful. I fear I will get sucked back in at some point. I fear I will crave connection. Engagement. Validation. I fear I will miss out. I fear I will lose more than I will gain.
And yet, I also feel as if this is the only way to save my soul. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but that’s the weight I’ve felt. In fact, it feels a little like what the computer says the end of the 80s movie War Games (SPOILER ALERT): “The only way to win is not to play.”
Prior to my writing this, I called in to Denise Linn’s radio show, Mystic Café. For those who don’t know, Denise Linn is a renowned expert on feng shui, clutter clearing, energy clearing, and more. I’ve been following her work since 1996, and I own and use several of her oracle card decks. I told her what I was about to do, that I was scared to do it, and I asked her to pull a card from one of those decks. She chose the Sacred Traveler oracle deck, which just so happens to be one of my favorite decks, and one that I’ve used quite a bit in my recent work as a tarot and oracle card reader. She squealed with delight when she pulled my card and revealed it to me:
MIRACLES. “Expect the wondrous to emerge.”
“You are absolutely doing the right thing,” she affirmed with conviction and excitement, “and it’s going to open up so many things for you.”
I’ve decided to remain on all platforms until September 30, the day before my wedding anniversary. And although I won’t be deleting my accounts, they will go dormant indefinitely.
Will I ever return? I really don’t know.
But I will be here. More importantly, by making myself absent from social media, I believe I will finally be present.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.