What authors think of social media

Mevrouw Bee

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My take on social media is kind of different. It became a thing after I moved to the Netherlands in 2004 and was struggling with culture shock, the language issue and health problems. As a result, it became a social life I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Not much different now since I returned to Canada just before lockdown and now, caring for my dad and writing and querying. But even if I weren't at home all the time, the writing community where I live is so small and spread out across northern Ontario, I still need social media to network with other writers. It's been a lifesaver really. And will continue to be once I return to the Netherlands as the local English-speaking writing community is so small.

I'm a Twitter person ultimately. Facebook is where my writing groups are and where I collect family and friends but post little because it's expected that you stay "nice" and chirpy all the time. My Instagram is a desert because, staying home with Dad all the time, my life is hardly a visual feast.
 

HankChenaski

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My take on social media is kind of different. It became a thing after I moved to the Netherlands in 2004 and was struggling with culture shock, the language issue and health problems. As a result, it became a social life I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Not much different now since I returned to Canada just before lockdown and now, caring for my dad and writing and querying. But even if I weren't at home all the time, the writing community where I live is so small and spread out across northern Ontario, I still need social media to network with other writers. It's been a lifesaver really. And will continue to be once I return to the Netherlands as the local English-speaking writing community is so small.

I'm a Twitter person ultimately. Facebook is where my writing groups are and where I collect family and friends but post little because it's expected that you stay "nice" and chirpy all the time. My Instagram is a desert because, staying home with Dad all the time, my life is hardly a visual feast.
That's a good point. For people isolated geographically or for other reasons social media can be a life changer. I have trouble making real connections with people online though. I find on Twitter it's usually "I'll follow you because you'll follow me and then we'll never again see each other's posts because the algorithm has other ideas".

Facebook isn't my scene yet as a writer because I'm not ready to "out" myself as a writer to family and friends. Hopefully one day.
 

Mevrouw Bee

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That's a good point. For people isolated geographically or for other reasons social media can be a life changer. I have trouble making real connections with people online though. I find on Twitter it's usually "I'll follow you because you'll follow me and then we'll never again see each other's posts because the algorithm has other ideas".

Facebook isn't my scene yet as a writer because I'm not ready to "out" myself as a writer to family and friends. Hopefully one day.
I wouldn't sweat Facebook. It's more a pain than it's worth, I think. A dying platform.

I keep hearing about TikTok but I'm simultaneously too old to be cute and too young to be cute! Maybe when I get to be Betty White's age... :ROFLMAO:

And, yeah, I think algorithms are the devil. I have to literally set alerts on certain people (Like irl family and friends) or I'd never see their stuff!
 

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Twitter has lost some of its appeal for me, but not for any real reason or effort on my part. It just feels like it's run its course, though I still love it and will still use it. It's a great place to find buzz about books and contests and gossip. Lots of authors share opinions there which is nice. I periodically make great connections.

Facebook never appealed to me. I try it half heartedly.

I found instagram intriguing for a few minutes... communicating through images instead of text was a weird concept. But it's never really grabbed hold of me.

Tiktok seems to have a different strength, which (if I'm reading my experiences there correctly) is that the tiktoks don't go to "my follower" audience so much as to where the algorithm thinks it should go. When I log on, I can see what people I follow are posting (but I don't click that), or I can go to my 'for you page' and maybe some people use it this way. I've got zero wish to watch tiktok. I'm using it for exposure, free advertising, the booktok thing.

When I post tiktoks, the view numbers are all over the place. Some of my tiktoks have three views, other have hundreds, and they can be very similar to one another and still have this huge differential.

Tiktok intrigues me like a nut to crack. I would not be writing this morning under any circumstances, due to being hung over, but putting some tiktoks up is well within my mental capabilities, so I did. The one I just posted is crap, not even level, but it feels experimental which can be fun.

As far as getting addicted, these things run their course with me. I was addicted to 2048 for years on end. Then I woke up one day and wasn't anymore. That's how twitter feels to me now.
 
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lizmonster

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As soon as I saw Matt Haig's picture I knew it was an old article. He's been off Twitter for at least a year, and is only sporadically on Instagram.

I think fame makes social media a different experience. Nobody much cares if I tweet or not. It is, though, my main social media indulgence - I don't do much on Facebook, although I advertise there, and on Instagram I mostly read other stuff. I have a TikTok account, but it's reserved almost exclusively for watching videos The Kid sends me.

Speaking of whom: her generation has never en masse gone to either Facebook or Twitter. For a while they were using Discord; now she and her friends are using Instagram group chats. They also spend time on Reddit, which seems to be a big source of memes.

If That Billionaire Dude buys Twitter, I may resurrect Facebook a little, or try to dig around Instagram some more. TikTok doesn't appeal, really, since I prefer reading to watching video. Discord is nice, but you have to proactively form and join groups, so it's a different kind of "social."
 

Mevrouw Bee

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If That Billionaire Dude buys Twitter, I may resurrect Facebook a little, or try to dig around Instagram some more. TikTok doesn't appeal, really, since I prefer reading to watching video. Discord is nice, but you have to proactively form and join groups, so it's a different kind of "social."
Yeah, Elon Musk changed his mind (big surprise) and now he's being sued, I think.

Since I don't really go out except to run errands or with Dad for doctors' appointments, I rarely use my phone and Instagram and TikTok are more phone apps than laptop ones. Also prefer Twitter on my laptop because I have an ad blocker and don't have to see the sponsored posts...
 
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Nether

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I'm not a fan of social media, so I don't find getting away from it to be particularly hard.

I frequently question whether the world would be better off without social media, particularly given that the US and other state-level actors have used it as a tool to ferment unrest and revolution around the world. That's on top of the general toxicity of social media and persistent role in criminal misconduct. Sometimes it has a benefit -- there are missing persons cases the police and conventional media wouldn't have bothered with if not for an outcry on social media -- but there's a serious net detriment, especially when you consider social media's role in the vanishing side of other missing persons cases.
 

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I'm not on social media unless you count reddit and here, but those two websites are invaluable to me for finding beta partners and writing advice. I don't know anyone in real life who writes...well, one person, but we aren't critique partners or anything. Twitter sounds kind of exhausting, just judging by what other people say about it, but I sometimes think I should sign up to get more insight into what agents and 'the industry' wants. Then I never get round to it for another month or months.
I'm not a fan of social media, so I don't find getting away from it to be particularly hard.

I frequently question whether the world would be better off without social media, particularly given that the US and other state-level actors have used it as a tool to ferment unrest and revolution around the world. That's on top of the general toxicity of social media and persistent role in criminal misconduct. Sometimes it has a benefit -- there are missing persons cases the police and conventional media wouldn't have bothered with if not for an outcry on social media -- but there's a serious net detriment, especially when you consider social media's role in the vanishing side of other missing persons cases.
Yeah I'm torn on that too. Social media certainly does lead to a lot of political conspiracy theories being shared among millions of people, but by the same token, people can share useful information too and people in countries with autocratic governemnts can access information that would've been tightly controlled in the days before social media.

And people can get advice and outside perspectives on issues, instead of just relying on immediate family and friends. One example is all the reddit posts of people asking if they're being abused in a relationship. Pretty often the answer is 'yes', and other commenters can tell them that they're not imagining things and they don't have to put up with it. But in pre-interent days, I guess they would've just had to figure it all out alone. It's really hard to say if social media is a net gain or not.

I guess I'm lucky that I'm not on facebook, so I have no great aunts threatening to unfriend me if I don't share their anti-vaxx garbage!
 

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I'm not a fan of social media, so I don't find getting away from it to be particularly hard.

I frequently question whether the world would be better off without social media, particularly given that the US and other state-level actors have used it as a tool to ferment unrest and revolution around the world. That's on top of the general toxicity of social media and persistent role in criminal misconduct. Sometimes it has a benefit -- there are missing persons cases the police and conventional media wouldn't have bothered with if not for an outcry on social media -- but there's a serious net detriment, especially when you consider social media's role in the vanishing side of other missing persons cases.
I think social media can ultimately be a good thing, but it's been twisted into this toxic beast that seems to infect and destroy everything it touches. I didn't used to be pro-regulating the internet, but I think we're getting to the point where we might have to.

I do find myself nostalgic for ye olden days when internet communities were much smaller and more personal. You could actually get to know the other people in whatever niche hobby forum you haunted. Now much of it is so impersonal. Probably why I wandered back here after trying the writing communities on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram. But this is one of the few forums still active after all these years.
 

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Y'all know, don't you, that Absolute Write Water Cooler is social media, too... just sayin'...

FB, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Discord—those may be the big names. But anywhere thousands (70K here?) of folks are posting and responding to each other's posts, even just hundreds in comment threads under YouTube videos, it all counts as social media. AWWC even has a follow feature!
 

Mevrouw Bee

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I'm not a fan of social media, so I don't find getting away from it to be particularly hard.

I frequently question whether the world would be better off without social media, particularly given that the US and other state-level actors have used it as a tool to ferment unrest and revolution around the world. That's on top of the general toxicity of social media and persistent role in criminal misconduct. Sometimes it has a benefit -- there are missing persons cases the police and conventional media wouldn't have bothered with if not for an outcry on social media -- but there's a serious net detriment, especially when you consider social media's role in the vanishing side of other missing persons cases.
If it weren't for social media, I wouldn't be talking to anybody except my 91-year-old dad who sleeps most of the day, and my husband 6,000 km away on Skype. (Who, actually, I originally met in a Yahoo group, so I can blame social media for that too!)

I sometimes envy those who have an entire network at their practically literal fingertips but unfortunately, that's never been me.
 

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Social media come and go, but my blog stays. I stick with blogging, and syndicate posts from that to Twitter as a way to keep the account active. But for the most part I don't bother with Twitter as such, or most any other social media system. It's too much of a timesink.
 
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Helix

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I curate my Twitter account -- no following without first checking someone's bio and timeline, enthusiastic pre-emptive muting and blocking, no taking the bait, forced unfollows for any fuckwits who are following me or who have put me on lists that I would rather not be on...

But I don't promote my writing much on Twitter. If something comes out, I'll tweet about it, but that's it. Can't be arsed with people who set up accounts that are endless tweets exhorting us all to buy their new book or whatevs. There's nothing social about that.
 

ChaseJxyz

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Discord is not social media. It is a chat app, one that has lots of channels and features. Social media is something ANYONE can join and take part in. But people like to pretend Discord is social media, or a suitable replacement for a forum, which it absolutely is not. The "privatization"/silo-ization of knowledge via Discord servers causes great harm on the wider Internet, and it sucks, and I wish more people would talk about that.

If you don't like social media, you don't have to use it. But Kids These Days love social media because it is someplace they can socialize with others, for free. The reason why kids don't go outside and play with their friends until dark or hop on their bike and go to the park or something is because you built the suburbs, where everything is so far you need a car. There is no public transit, and even when you find a place to hang out, you need money. And even THEN you cannot stay there all day. Social media and the Internet in general is the only place most young people (and, lets be honest, older people) can hang out with other people without being pressured to spend money.

As a queer person, social media was a lifesaver. Since I didn't fit the stereotypical (and very false) idea I had of what a gay person or trans person was, I assumed I was cishet, and I just hated myself for normal reasons people hate themselves. There were no queer characters in the books we had to read, there was no queer history, there was no queer club. Because of the lack of public transit, there was no way I could go to meetings or community centers to learn more (assuming my parents would even let me, which they wouldn't). I really got my hands on the Internet when I was in college, but that was mostly Facebook. It was only after college, when I was on tumblr where people were much more open and diverse about their gender and sexualities, did I figure all of that out, and only then could I start living my life.

For people who have no problem finding "community" because they are already the majority, cool, I'm glad you feel like you don't need social media or online communities in general. Not everyone has that luxury. Not everyone can safely express who they are or learn things in the real world.
 

HankChenaski

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The "privatization"/silo-ization of knowledge via Discord servers causes great harm on the wider Internet, and it sucks, and I wish more people would talk about that.
That seems to be the way it's going with Discord and Telegram and apps like that. Even Twitter is introducing a new "Twitter Circles" feature that mimics this by letting you create private groups for your tweets.
 
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lizmonster

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The "privatization"/silo-ization of knowledge via Discord servers causes great harm on the wider Internet, and it sucks, and I wish more people would talk about that.

You're going to have to explain this assertion to me. Discord seems to be no different than someone having a gathering at their home.

I imagine, like Reddit, it's populated by the full range of light and dark. But I don't get the targeted ire.
 
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The "privatization"/silo-ization of knowledge via Discord servers causes great harm on the wider Internet, and it sucks, and I wish more people would talk about that.
Isn't that the same as Messenger, or MSN before that, or IRC even before? There has always been private rooms on the internet where you could chat with your friends.
 

Introversion

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The article’s suggestion that there are two kinds of authors on social media (those who would be there regardless, and those who feel obliged to be) feels right?

I suspect there should only be one kind of author on SM: Those who want to be. I don’t think authors sell many books on SM. And I doubt most authors have the kind of SM reach that makes it matter for their “brand”? If you like blogging or Instagramming or whatever, do that. Else, don’t.
 

Mevrouw Bee

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The article’s suggestion that there are two kinds of authors on social media (those who would be there regardless, and those who feel obliged to be) feels right?

I suspect there should only be one kind of author on SM: Those who want to be. I don’t think authors sell many books on SM. And I doubt most authors have the kind of SM reach that makes it matter for their “brand”? If you like blogging or Instagramming or whatever, do that. Else, don’t.
The books that I bought after hearing about on social media were written by people I had befriended on social media. I think you sell yourself on social media, not your book. Whatever books you end up selling there are a bonus and because the buyer likes you as a person. But I don't follow those on Twitter who use it to purely advertise.
 

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I think you sell yourself on social media, not your book. Whatever books you end up selling there are a bonus and because the buyer likes you as a person.
I think that’s right. Confession: I frequently read Chuck Wendig’s blog. He cracks me up. But I’ve only read one of his books. I like his blog better. 🤷‍♂️
 

lizmonster

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The books that I bought after hearing about on social media were written by people I had befriended on social media. I think you sell yourself on social media, not your book. Whatever books you end up selling there are a bonus and because the buyer likes you as a person. But I don't follow those on Twitter who use it to purely advertise.

Social media is a big part of self-publishing for a lot of people, and how well it works depends a lot on where your audience is. Some people swear by it - and I can trace a few sales, sometimes, to a Twitter announcement.

Trade publishers use it with varying success. Tor has a good social media game. For individual authors...I don't see many successful authors tweeting only about their books. And in many cases, I've seen authors with sudden success retreat off social media they once used comfortably because the attention they drew was too often abusive (see: Matt Haig).

Right now I like Twitter. I will leave if the M*sk deal goes through (Twitter is suing to complete the deal; litigation is absolutely ongoing), but for now I get more good than bad from it. If I ever got famous, though - even just Internet-famous - I expect I'd bail. It's rife with abusers, and Twitter doesn't much care about getting rid of them.
 

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I deleted Facebook years ago, but still hang out on Twitter and Instagram. Ultimately, I go where my friends go. I have online friends that I've known for almost twenty years now, and since meeting on journalling sites we've sort of migrated together from platform to platform. Maybe Twitter and Instagram are on the out, but I'll always make the effort to get used to whatever comes next if it means keeping in touch with them. Many of my online friends have become lifelong in-person friends — in fact, I owe almost the entirety of my current real life friend group to a chance online meeting many years ago — so the social aspect of social media can't be understated for me! It certainly has plenty of dark corners, but it's also enriched my life in ways I couldn't have imagined without it.
 

lizmonster

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Ultimately, I go where my friends go.

This is what I'm getting from The Kid and her generation - they're not faithful to particular platforms, but to the groups they find. If the platform goes away, or if enough of the group decides the platform is unworkable, the group finds another home.

Social media platforms are becoming commodities, which isn't great for their bottom lines, and is I think behind a lot of the nonsense many of them are getting up to. It's also why specialized platforms like Tr*th S*cial are having money problems - it's hard to turn a profit in this space without massive advertising and selling user data.