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.
9/21/2020 12:56:29 pm
I can’t blame you one bit. I’ve been feeling the same way. So much negativity with every scroll...Just know that I’ll be thinking of you, and sending love and positivity 💕
9/21/2020 01:02:42 pm
Thank you, dear friend. I will be thinking of you, too. I hope we can stay in touch. Perhaps even via good ol' snail mail! xoxo
9/22/2020 01:20:15 pm
Snail mail, it is ❤️ I’ll send you my info on messenger.
Assunta M Riley
9/21/2020 02:51:32 pm
Thank you for your courage, openness and honesty.
9/21/2020 05:13:58 pm
Sunti, you are one of the ones I am especially going to miss. I do hope we'll be able to keep in touch. Going within is such a challenge for humans, I think, especially extroverted humans such as myself! But I think only good will come of it. Thank you for your sharing. Much love to you. <3
9/21/2020 09:02:24 pm
Sending love and light your way! 💚
9/21/2020 09:47:09 pm
Thank you, Jean! xo
9/22/2020 06:15:24 am
Elisa, my sweet niece. I am going to miss my daily search for you but I understand. I have the good fortune to know that I will always be able to check in with you. One of my fondest memories is telling your UncLe Joe to hurry up and finish Elisa’s letter so I could read it. I always knew you would do something wonderful with the written word.
9/22/2020 09:07:54 am
This is an incentive to write letters again. And I have been thinking a lot about you and Uncle Joe these past few months. Love you much. xoxo
9/22/2020 08:24:56 am
Well, I've said I need to start writing more letters, lol. This should help.
9/22/2020 09:09:07 am
I was thinking that my newsletters are going to get way more like actual letters. But I'm always for snail mail. <3
9/22/2020 11:13:18 am
I have been feeling this way for quite some time but I'm afraid to leave because of the isolation and disconnection I will feel. Tired of some of the negativity I see and the addictive scrolling, maybe one day I'll be as brave as you and make the leap. Good luck in your future endeavours.
9/22/2020 11:27:47 am
Thank you, Dee. I totally get where you're coming from. Doing this without the safety net of a physical community at the moment is crazy, quite frankly. I worry about those things as well. And the response on Twitter these last 24 hours was so comforting I was tempted to say, "Maybe I'll hang in a little longer..." But all the negative effects to my emotional and mental well-being are just too grave now. As I said to Doug on Twitter, whereas I used to view social media as part of my job, it's now become a massive hindrance to my job.
9/23/2020 03:23:39 pm
Although I've missed the people there - and you know most of them - leaving Facebook was a great relief. In the last couple of months, I've seriously cut down on twitter, to the extent that I forget to even look at it most days. I no longer crave the buzz and feel better for it.
9/24/2020 09:04:52 am
Thank you, Maureen. Funny, this morning I posted about how there's a shortage of canned pumpkin puree here, and I then added: "Leaving social media has suddenly made me aware of how stupid it is to post this kind of stuff." So I think/hope it'll get better. :)
9/24/2020 09:30:30 am
I think I miss the friends and communities on LJ/DW more than I miss FB. I still think of things to post. But where I used to post 2 or 3 or 4 times a day on LJ back in the day, I've struggled to keep up with posting every day this year, as I intended to. Having no response takes it back to more of the journal that was the reason for my starting on LJ originally.
9/23/2020 04:09:37 pm
At the end of last September I received my local cable tv and phone bill, well I was not happy to say the least. I had a two-year contract at a bundle price I had arranged with one of the who deals with us frustrated clients and he was great put me on hold while looking for the right bundle at the right price for me and he came back with a deal that was perfect for me that was in early June. When my first bill arrived it was all in order as to what we agreed on. End of September came with my third months bill 💥💥🗯💣the bill was more than double so I phoned the local service again to inform them of the error, I was sent up the ladder one person at a time because no one was willing to deal with the problem, I finally was switched to asenior manager that spoke down to me, lied to me and finally manifested a complete botch me being me asked if he had taken a course in manipulation and diciet in less than twelve minutes my phone, cable and Wi-Fi were disconnected. I had never heard of that company working so fast. That was the last Friday of September later that day I was in my kitchen when my son rushed into my home in a panic thinking the worse,you see I live alone, I'm in a wheelchair with a lot of internal issues and my son had tried phoning me as he dose on most fridays to make sure I'm ok,BUT he couldn't contact me so he drove over three hours in fear I was hurt or dead, I mean he was terrified at what he might find. After hearing what was done to me he went to the company he deals with and put my cell phone on his service. To this day I have not watched t.v. after the way I was isolated from the outside world I decided all I needed was Wi-Fi for my tablet so I could read and a cell phone so my son could check up on me to know I am still above ground. LOL.I don't miss t.v. and with my tablet I can read your blog ,letters and read your books with larger print. 😉😊 Kat
9/24/2020 09:07:36 am
Kat, that's a crazy story! It's ridiculous how these companies have managed to get such control. I appreciate your sharing it. I appreciate even more your sticking with me. :)
9/24/2020 06:43:20 am
I am apparently the snail in snail mail as I am a rural mail carrier. 😄 Elisa, I will proudly send along any future correspondence to you which might pass through my hands. As a fellow Durannie and a lover of the written word, you have been an inspiration to me. I'm planning to retire in six years, and I'm going to explore my own path in journalism. I applaud your decision to leave social media behind and wish you all the best. I am proud to be a subscriber. 💕
9/24/2020 09:09:37 am
Kelly, your comment just made my day. I bow down to you! Can't be easy being a mail carrier these days. I support you 100% in your present and post-retirement path. Sending love and light. xoxo
9/24/2020 09:15:03 am
Good for you! I have been thinking about doing the same thing...started making a list of why to stay, who/what would I miss. Fortunately only FB but still an obsession.
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I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.