April's Writing Challenge: Writing Inspiration
I’ll say it—the thing no blogger should ever say.
I’ve been in a bit of a *gasp* blog rut.
I’ve been forcing myself to write these past few weeks, racking my brain for topics. After scratching a few blog posts on bland things no one would want to read about, I took a small break. One blog post. a week or so? That would be enough.
And then came https://www.facebook.com/writerscircle to the rescue. Their post on the 30 day April writing challenge saved my lack of inspiration.
So some of the topics are a bit strange, but I’m giving it a go. Maybe this will result in thirty days of “wth is that girl doing.” Hopefully, though, you’ll find something of value or interest in the next month.
Five Problems With Social Media
I’m a bit of a social media immigrant. I wasn’t raised with it. Facebook became popular when I was in my last year of high school. Thus, I was brought up to have a sense of wariness about technology and social media. I grew up in the “protect your identity” and “don’t tell anyone the truth online" era.
Boy, has that changed.
Now, most evenings you can find me, eyeballs glues to my computer screen, phone, or both. I spend way too much time scrolling my Facebook newsfeed, liking pics on Instagram, and counting my characters on Twitter.
Over the past year as I embarked on my author journey, I’ve found social media to be an amazing connector. I’ve met authors, writers, publishers, and all sorts of other participants in the writing community thanks to the power of social media. I've found some great resources including one of my favorites, The Literary Lightbox with Loretta Milan, and even this April writing challenge. It's been a great journey.
When I started writing, I felt so alone on this crazy journey. Now, though, I feel like I can connect and relate with so many others going through my journey. More than that, I can stay connected with old friends, old acquaintances, family, and everyone in between.
However, even I, the Facebook addict, can admit there are downsides to social media. Thus, here are my top five problems with social media.
1. I'm a creepy phone avoider.
So this probably stems from my deeply introspective nature that surfaced as a child. I was always a bit shy growing up. The shyness has been replaced with a penchant for talking peoples’ ears off today. Still, though, I hate calling people. As in loathe it, find millions of excuses not to, put it off for days. Be it the dentist, a hair appointment, or a family member, I’d rather write a letter using my own blood than make a phone call (okay, that was a bit too Poe, but you catch my drift).
Social media has practically eliminated the need for phone calls. Having a party? Invite your family by creating a Facebook event. Need to rally support? Tweet about it. Want everyone to see your adorable new puppy? Instagram it (#adorable). Social media makes it easy to stay connected without dialing a single phone call.
I am able to admit the downside to this. If it were up to me, no one would ever hear my voice on the phone. But sometimes, a phone call is just so much better. Social media can’t replace the sound of concern in a loved one’s voice or the simple connection made between two people talking.
2. Social media has made it easier for me to be a cat hoarder.
This one’s a stretch. But seriously, Facebook, stop making it so easy for me to find adorable, sad cats that need homes. Every time I’m on social media, I see tear-jerker stories about cats and dogs who are abandoned and neglected. I’ve cried (as in ugly tears) at videos of a homeless poodle, a beagle that underwent animal testing, and scores of other sad animal videos on social media.
Social media is awesome for spreading awareness and helping animals get homes, don’t get me wrong. But with five cats and a dog pushing two-hundred pounds already, my heart doesn’t need pulled anymore. If I didn’t have a rational bone in my body or a husband who swears we can’t have any more cats, Facebook would gladly help me find at least twenty more. Every post I see makes me ask the question: Is one more cat really going to hurt anything?
Cue the cat hoarding cycle.
3. I feel like nothing is genuine.
Sometimes social media can jade our opinions of real life and put us in a weird little social media bubble.
This can work both ways.
Sometimes, it seems like everyone on social media only posts great things. We see friends getting married, having babies, getting promotions, buying new houses, winning contests, etc. It seems like everyone’s life is just rocking. That girl you hated in high school? Well, she’s living the dream, according to social media. That kid who bullied you? Also living a golden life. Then, sitting on your couch with your cats eating Ramen noodles and wondering what Netflix show to watch next, you start to feel sorry for yourself.
Why aren’t you having this picture perfect life? Why is everyone else so damn happy?
Facebook and social media envy are real. Studies cited on The Huffington Post have shown we can actually increase envy and depression with social media because we feel like everyone else’s life is awesome. Obviously, social media sometimes only shows a gilded version of the truth, but it’s hard to recognize that.
On the flip side, sometimes social media makes us think the world is truly evil. We see posts about horrific news events, posts about discriminatory attitudes, posts that erupt into social media warfare over politics, religion, and everything in between. We see friends whining about how unfair life is or how cruel the world is, and suddenly, life does seem awful. We see social media as an escape from a sometimes complicated world—only to find the world on social media can also be complicated, frustrating, and hate-filled.
Sometimes we need to step away from the virtual world and step back into the real one to realize life’s all about balance; believing life is about the extremes isn’t healthy.
4. People? Who needs real people?
This ties in closely to number two, but I think social media has only contributed to my hermit-like qualities. When you don’t need to leave the house to feel connected with someone—why leave the house at all? I am so happy most nights chilling on my couch with Henry watching television and playing on social media. I think social media is a great thing because it does build genuine connections. However, sometimes we start to feel more like Miss Havisham than ourselves, which also isn’t quite healthy. Sometimes we need to move the clocks to the right time, get off our Facebook newsfeed, and rejoin the land of the living. Face to face interaction cannot be replaced with online interaction.
5. I have no attention span.
I’m just going to say thank you to a friend…oh look! A kitten video!...oh, wow, that meme is inappropriate…ew, what is she wearing…is that a Lularoe sale?...those Jamberry nails are adorable…oh my goodness, it’s bedtime.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have killed my attention span.
It’s easy, as I’m sure you know, to be pulled in a million directions on social media. You start out trying to pass five minutes, and you find that two hours have passed as you jump from post to post and page to page.
I find this translating into less attention even in my “real” life. Social media prides itself on giving information quickly and in bits and pieces. We can scroll down on Instagram and see dozens of pictures in an instant. We can get quick snippets on Twitter. In real life, then, reading an entire story or listening to a long conversation can be…well…boring.
Social media has killed my attention span, but I doubt I’m alone.
How many of you had the attention span to make it to this sentence?
Blogging research shows…sadly probably very few.
Social Media Verdict
So yes, clearly there are bad things about social media. From turning us into cat hoarders who avoid phone calls to pulling our attention, social media does have some negative personality effects.
But doesn’t everything?
At the end of the day, social media helps me feel connected, helps me express myself, and helps me reach more people with my words. Thus, I’ll continue creepily sitting on my couch with my herd of cats texting until my fingers fall off.
How about you?