Guest Post from Tosca Lee on “The Perils of Social Media”

randomlychad  —  October 2, 2012 — 8 Comments

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Facebook. Twitter. Shoutlife. LinkedIn. Dopplr. Google+. Plaxo. Blogger. WordPress. Shelfari. Goodreads. Writer’s loops. Conference loops. Endless loops.

By the time I finish updating my status, writing my blogs, tweeting, pasting my bulletins, my newest pictures, my URLs and YouTube links, recruiting friends, recommending friends, sharing reads, rating reads, ranking reads, ranking friends, tagging friends, responding to posts, responding to friends, responding to blogs, ranting, reblogging, re-bulleting, re-accepting (plants, gifts, pinches, bits o’ karma, flowers, flare, tickles, candy, drinks, siege warfare by angry goats and lil green patches–what the heck is a lil green patch anyway??) it’s time to repost my status–and respond to those responding to my status who are reading their walls, shuffling friends, organizing bookshelves, recommending contacts and waging mob wars.

By then, the day is over. I have missed my hair appointment, my deadline and a conference call, needed to go to the bathroom three hours ago, blown off dinner, ticked off my friends (who live in town and did not check my wall to see why I never showed up), neglected my Significant Other, alienated my family, and defaulted on my mortgage.

I’m already grossly behind on an article and some reading, on projects for friends and the synopsis I owe my agent… and yet I cannot tear myself from Facebook because I might miss something important–say, another lil green patch–and then I will have gone from being behind with writing, reading and work, to being behind with the relational fiber of my life that is supposed to make the reading, the writing, the work all meaningful.

***
Bouncing back and forth between the social, networking and professional sites I signed up for to catch up with friends, connect with readers and promote my work, it’s plausible that I might never have time to write another book–or if I do, it’ll be 360 pages of 140-character one-liners.

I don’t know half the people in my extended network, but they came highly recommended. And even though I may not actually know Marlene in Dekalb, I’m fascinated by how white her teeth are in her picture and the fact that her relationship status just changed from “In a relationship” to “Single.” I’m wondering if they broke up or she forgot to change it before her last boyfriend. And if I know any friends of friends willing to dish.

I’m fascinated by hub friends, who seem to know and be on everyone’s page, horrified at how many colleagues know schoolmates who have seen me do stupid things, appalled friends’ exes who never had the decency to settle down more than one degree away.

It gets a bit uncomfortable–I worry if raucous friends will offend the straight-laced among my network (or vice versa). I wonder whether I’ll say something dumb that will haunt me forever–or at least until it scrolls off the new bulletin list, pushed down by the newest rants, requests, ramblings or reciprocal idiocy of others.

The only way to know, of course, is to stay pasted to the screen. I find that trolling for feedback is an especially convenient time to spy on high school friends and frenemies, the real lives of people I only see in suits, my exes, my readers (it seems only fair), my colleagues, my neighbors. And I am at peace with my virtual social life, holed up like a voyeuristic hermit, my picture neatly made up in the window as I sit stinky and unkempt at home in my sweats.

One of these days, God willing, I’ll start a new project. Crickets will chirp from the void that was my blog. The status line of my Facebook page will stare blankly at no one. Invites will turn kudzu on my homepage, and my Shelfari shelves will grow dust. Concerned friends will send notes like morose pings into the ether as I wrestle with metaphors and confront the empty page, wishing I could trade my Roget’s for the tiniest lil green patch or bit o’ karma.

***

Tosca just sent you a lil green patch.

[Accept] [Decline] [Ignore] [Wage Mob War Instead]

#caffiene

———–

This post originally appeared on the blog of Tosca’s agent, Steve Laube, back in January of this year. Because I felt it has something to say to those of us engaging in Jim Woods’s #WritersUnite campaign, I asked Ms. Lee if I could repost it here; she graciously agreed.

Tosca Lee is the author of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the forthcoming Iscariot. She is also the co-author with Ted Dekker of the NYTimes bestsellers Forbidden, and Mortal. A sought-after speaker and former Mrs. Nebraska, Tosca was a senior consultant for a global consulting firm until turning to writing full-time, making her–for those of us familiar with the work of Jon Acuff–something of a poster child for the Quitter movement. She is someone who left her day job for her dream job. As she would likely tell you, that dream–like a certain branch of the military–is the toughest job you’ll ever love. She holds a degrees in English and International Relations from Smith College and also studied at Oxford University. You can find her on her website at: ToscaLee.com, on Facebook at Tosca Lee, and you can follow her on Twitter @ToscaLee.

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randomlychad

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Loved it -- she perfectly captured the addictive allure of social media.

    • Oh, for sure! Which is why I asked her if I could share it here. She nails it!

  • Such a perfect picture of our lack of focus. That we could all break the endless cycle!

    • Isn’t it, though?

      She’s one of my favorite writers.

  • yup…nailed it indeed. I’m three weeks out of the corporate job, and I’m finding it so hard to confine social media to the cage I set up to keep me productive…In fact, I spotted this on Facebook before I saw it in the RSS feed, before I noticed it on Twitter. Sigh.

    • Oh, irony! Thy name is “Internet,” right?

      The very tool that fosters the connections somehow interferes with the work that connects us.

      It’s the Gordian Knot of our day.

  • It all just becomes so much after a while. You check Twitter, Facebook and read blogs. You comment and then read all of the comments back. I’ve almost, intentionally unintentionally, begun to ignore some of it. I’m not commenting on the blogs I read as much. You just can’t do it all.

    • No, you can’t, Larry--and still get the work done.