Tag Archives: Social Media

Looking At It Differently

So, I read a thread on Twitter the other day from author C.L. Polk. It discussed the delicate balance of readers interacting with the authors they admire; about how a reader saying, “I can’t wait for your next book,” could actually have negative consequences. Sorta like the same consequences a reader can inflict when they begin to guilt trip an author through social media, especially when they say things like, “Why aren’t you writing!?” in a comment after an author tweets about their latest enter-any-other-aspect-about-life-that-isn’t-writing here.

It’s a point of view I’ve never really considered.

Not the guilt tripping one.

The “I can’t wait for your next book” one.

I’ve been pretty lucky to interact with quite a few of my favorite authors. I met a few at WorldCon a couple of years ago. Especially ever since I started my book review blog, I’ve definitely interacted with authors online more, usually on Twitter. Some really awesome conversations have come out of that. I won’t lie: I get pretty starstruck whenever I’m able to talk to an author who I admire, virtually or otherwise. I’ve said some pretty embarrassing things before, as one is apt to do, when talking with an idol. (Gosh, you can imagine if I’d had the opportunity to meet Tolkien? I’m pretty sure he’d have to learn another language, just to try and understand my fangirling ((not that learning another one would be an issue for him, but you get where I’m coming from))).

That said, I never considered how me talking with an author and saying something like, “I loved your book! I can’t wait for the next one!” might not be seen as encouraging, like my intentions are.

It could actually be just as guilt tripping as someone who blatantly calls out an author for not spending every moment of their life writing, but instead, actually having a life, as well.

I put myself in the role of the author, thinking of Polk’s examples and discussion in her thread. Here I am, having written a book that some people enjoy. Sometimes, they reach out to me and tell me so. But instead of getting elated that they are excited for the next book, I instead feel guilty. Because I haven’t been having a great writing week. Or the deadline is looming and I’m probably going to miss it. Or I’ve been spending a lot of time playing X new favorite video game instead of going over my word count goals for the week. Or I’ve been spending more time with my family than usual, instead of writing. Or I’ve suffering heavily through imposter syndrome. Suddenly, I feel this enormous pressure to not only live up to these new expectations, but also this fear that I’m going to disappoint my readers, because not only do they like my work, but they are waiting for more. Right now.

Thinking of it this way, even though I’m nowhere near close to being published, I can totally see myself doing this; reacting this way.

I think it’s really easy to not think of authors as people but instead see them as celebrities, putting them on pedestals where we idolize their creative prowess, and thus forgetting that they have needs, lives and wants beyond writing the next book we’re waiting for. And they should. They’re people. They’re human. They deserve to have lives, too, and not be guilt tripped as such. And to not be afraid to talk about those other aspects on social media, lest their readers moan about how the sequel isn’t out yet.

I do admit, however, that, depending on the day and my mood, hearing a reader tell me they are excited for my next book to come out would be a huge mood lifter. Perhaps I just read a negative review and it’s encouraging to know someone out there still wants to read more of my work. Or that comment was just the kick in the pants I needed to stop wasting time on Twitter and instead get back to writing.

I can see it both ways, now. Before, I’d never considered how that could be negative and harmful comment, despite the purest intentions. It’s something I’m going to be more conscious of, even though I have no idea how these authors online are feeling at any given moment, so I’m not sure how my comments are going to be received. But I don’t think it hurts to try and be more conscientious, and reminded that just because I intend a comment one way, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be receive in the same manner.



Social Media Hiatus

It might seem a bit dramatic to post that I’m going to go on a social media hiatus, as I don’t spend a ton of time on social media to begin with–especially after I deleted all the apps off of my phone, ages ago. But I still spend enough time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter that I know I’m wasting precious time I could be using for something else. But, mainly one thing:


I’m still not sure why, entirely, I am so apprehensive when it comes to working on my own writing. It’s been months–monthssince I’ve properly written. I have numerous books that need to be edited. So many ideas that I want to chase. After writing so much last year, hardly writing anything this year and it’s already almost June…it feels like a part of my identity is just completely gone. That I’m living a lie, somehow.

Quitting my second job has definitely freed up some time, but I’ve filled most of it with working out and cooking. Which means  I need to free up some more. I don’t want to hide behind the excuse that I don’t have enough time to write. Writing is my life. It should be priority, not something that always gets pushed aside. For now, one of the easiest solutions is lessening my social media intake; lessening the hours I spend in the evening scrolling through updates and rants.

So, apologies to anyone on Facebook or my Twitter fam. I may not be there for a while.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be completely silent. I’ll occasionally check Facebook or Twitter. I’ll still post pictures on Instagram and my blogs will still link to both locations, so I won’t entirely ghost out. But if you need to contact me or want to chat, social media might not be the best avenue to go. In fact, I have a couple of email chains going with some friends that I adore (even if it takes me a little while to respond). So if you want to still stay in touch regularly, message me sometime this week and we can definitely get an email chain going. Otherwise, I wish everyone all the best of luck, in every aspect of life luck is needed–and perhaps, sometimes, even when it’s not.

I have some writing to do.


The Crave for Conversation

This blog could also be titled, “The Life of the Luddite”. I’ve had a hard time choosing which one, because both incorporate themes and issues that tie together, regarding real conversations, technology and the growing struggle–or perhaps simply a struggle I’ve noticed–regarding communication. It’s something I’ve personally been struggling with for quite some time, yet because of my own ineptitude to communicate, have been unable to express what I’ve been dealing with to those it relates and matters to most.

I have to clear up a few things before I get to the root of what I’m dealing with. First off, as we all know, I’m a writer, a storyteller. So when you ask me how my day is, the answer usually isn’t going to be, “Oh, it was fine.” It’s going to be a fifteen minute tirade describing all the ups and downs of my day, including fine details, retelling of conversations I had and will probably be ten minutes too long, because you didn’t care to know all of those details.

I remember when I was in middle- and high-school, my Mom would ask that daring question: “How was your day?” Literally, it usually took about 45 minutes to an hour for me to answer it, as I had to describe not only my mood, but also what happened during each class, any drama that was going down, what assignments were due, how I barely survived the multiple miles ran during soccer practice, et cetera. I know, my Mom deserves an award for putting up with that every single day. While all of those details may not be important to the unfortunate listener having to listen to it, they were–and still are–important to me.

So I love to have in-depth conversations. Yet when it comes to confrontation or trying to express something that is bothering me, I can’t begin to even form words to describe what’s the matter. I close up, I shut people out and I avoid confrontation like it’s the plague and I haven’t been infected yet. Instead, I write my complaints, fears or stresses down. The amount of letters my parents or friends have gotten when I want to talk about something that is bothering me–whether it is a personal matter, something going on between us, something I am concerned about, whathaveyou–is ridiculous.

I’m not sure what causes this barrier. Perhaps it is because I am overly emotional and whenever I am stressed out, frustrated, nervous, overwhelmed, my instinct is to cry. I’m not overly ashamed of this, because I can’t control it. It’s just what happens. So by writing out my complaints or whatnot, I’m able to express myself and cry in the comfort of my own time and then usually, the correspondent is kind enough to write back in return, instead of having the conversation I don’t want to have, yet needs to happen. Oftentimes, a conversation still happens, but it always turns out better starting out through the letter or writing than if I approached them directly.

To sum up: I really like to have deep and meaningful and long conversations. However, I struggle to communicate regarding delicate topics or topics that will turn confrontational, so I write those out, instead. Kosher so far?

Next element: technology. I’m a self-proclaimed Luddite. A Luddite is someone who is against technology and the advancement of it. Of course, I’m a Luddite with an asterisks next to it. It’s not that I’m against the advancement of technology, completely. I just don’t want to it rule my entire life and be present in every aspect of my life. I love my laptop. I’m a huge gamer. I love having a phone that I can pull up a GPS and figure out where I am going, because I am directionly-challenged. I love that I can use websites like Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact with those I otherwise couldn’t or connect with other writers and authors that, otherwise, I would never met. So obviously I’m not on the “Destroy All of the Technology!” train (but that picture was too good to pass up). However, there are obvious choices that made my claim of being a Luddite stand out. I deleted all the social media apps on my phone so I wouldn’t be so attached. I can’t read ebooks and refuse to buy a Kindle. I just can’t do it. But the main reason, I have realized, is this:

Technology and media are exactly what I have to compete against for another human’s attention. And more often than not, I lose.

And finally, we reach the truth; the problem that I am dealing with yet don’t know how to deal with it. I crave communication. I want to have in-depth conversations with those I am close to, regarding little things that I turn into big things, like how my day–and also theirs–went, and the actual big things, like milestones and major events in our lives. And I want that on a regular basis. Daily, if I even dare.

But I’m finding myself, more often than not, going to bed irritated, frustrated and, quite frankly, feeling unheard. And a lot of it is because I am competing against the technology and the media that surrounds us all, and no matter how interesting a storyteller I am, I can’t compete, not against the distractions that prevail. But that’s not even the main problem. The main problem is I don’t know how to tell those who I feel are doing this to me that they are indeed doing this.

Smartphones are my biggest competitor. With so many apps available and with the stigma that you are expected to see and respond to everything–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, emails, texts, calls, news articles, Pokémon Go–immediately, it’s hard to have a human interaction when your companion is always craning their neck down staring a palm-sized screen, thumb constantly scrolling. If it isn’t a smartphone, it’s definitely a television. They are always on. Whether it is just there for background noise or there is a movie or TV show playing, the television is always on. And I’m not saying in order to have a meaningful conversation, you have to sit with another person alone in a room with complete silence. That’s not it at all. It would just be nice to be able to have a chat with someone with feeling like I’m competing against a pretty metal box. Or nice to walk into a room or have dinner and not have the TV on, automatically discouraging me from attempting to have a conversation, in fear that the same pattern of me–or them, as I am not above distraction at all–not being heard will emerge.


I know that I ask a lot in regards to conversation. I say that because traditionally, “normal” or everyday conversations aren’t long-winded and detailed and in-depth. Yet mine are. So I know it is a lot to ask, to ask those I’m close to, to be available and attentive and distraction free at some point, every day, so that I can have these conversations. But I’m also tired. I’m tired of feeling second to technology. I’m tired of having all of these conversation topics sitting inside my chest and never getting the opportunity to voice them. I’m tired of being in the middle of a story and watch as someone is messing around of their phone during it; or turns their head to look back at the TV, their attention divided; or, worse–and it has been happening more and more lately–slowly trailing off in my own story and my listener not even realizing that I had stopped talking and never realizing that I didn’t finish my story. Showing that they weren’t invested enough to listen to it. Even if it is just a too-lengthy story about what happened throughout my day.

I want to feel important and I want to feel heard.

Yet, here is the other caveat: I know the people who do this to me the most aren’t doing it maliciously or purposefully. Hell, they probably don’t even realize that they are doing it. And I know that, if I point it out to them, that they are going to feel guilty or ashamed and will do their best to change that behavior. And though I really don’t think this would happen, I have a small fear that my request–to have an opportunity or a time to catch-up on a daily basis without distractions–could be turned into a joke, with someone dramatically turning off the TV or pointedly making a show about their phone being turned away before we chatted.

I don’t want conversations to turn into big deals or cause problems with other people. I want them to be natural. And I don’t want to make people feel bad or guilty, which is the main reason why I haven’t brought this up to anyone. (Aside from my best friend, whom I have expressed all of this to. And she does a fantastic job of balancing technology and our conversations, often giving me the attention and conversation that I crave. Unfortunately, due to conflicting work schedules, I hardly get to see her, so our chances to converse like this have become rarer occurrences than they once were, which might also be a reason why these other stilted conversations are so jarring, because I literally have no other outlet).

So, this is me, writing about what I am going through. I posted it on the blog in hopes that readers may have advice about how I could approach this with my family and friends that I feel this happens to me with. Because of my fear of inflicting guilt or shame, I haven’t even gotten the courage to write letters to present my feelings, like I usually do. So I’m looking for advice, from anyone whom is willing to give it. Or feedback, if you think I am being too overly needy or demanding, because I also worry that I ask too much, in wanting consistent, longer, distraction-free conversations with people. I’m just not sure, at the moment.


Lessening My Social Media Intake

I’ve recently made the decision to switch phone companies, to cut my bill in half and minimize expenses as much as I can. I also got a new phone, which meant it was time to re-download the apps, put in all the contacts and generally get it in functioning order. It also allowed me, as I compared it with my old phone, to decide which apps I wanted to re-download and which I could do without.

So, without much hesitation, I didn’t download any of the main social media apps that I take part in, including Facebook and Twitter.

The reasons I did this were various, but they all support one main reason: I want a break from social media, but not a hiatus. I don’t want to stop using social media, but I want to use it less. I feel like I’ve become too attached to checking feeds or looking up notifications–and I think I’m the least attached of most of the people I know, which says something. I don’t like how, as soon as I wake up in the morning, I lay in bed and check all of my feeds. The same situation occurs before I go to bed. Or when I’m sitting in the bath. Or when I’m waiting for places to load after fast-traveling in Skyrim (though, to be fair, the load time is a bit long compared to games made for current generation consoles). Or when I’m eating or feel bored or waiting for someone. Basically, any “free” moment that I have, I’d crane my neck, my thumb would start scrolling and that is how I chose to pass the times of leisure or use as a distraction.

I also didn’t like how people hold these expectations that, if they post something on my wall or send me something, that I not only need to see it immediately, but I also need to respond immediately. Because even though I check my phone often, a lot of times I’ll leave it in the other room. Or I won’t check it while I’m busy doing something else. And I don’t like people getting angry because my response isn’t immediate. People shouldn’t expect immediate. Yet that is what the technology-driven society is moving towards, with the high-speeds, the instant results, the immediate downloads. Personally,  I don’t want those expectations.

I also noticed that, while I was writing, if I got to a lull in a sentence or even a pause in a thought, my instinct was to reach for my phone for a five minute diversion, which usually turned into ten or maybe even twenty minutes. There was nothing I “needed” to check–if there is anything that ever falls into the “need” category–yet the option was there and I usually took it. When I finally noticed that, I knew I had to figure out some way to become less attached, because interfering with my writing just can’t be an option. Yet I also really like using Facebook to stay connected with high school friends, Twitter to be surrounded by an encouraging and inspiring writing community or apps like Pinterest to sate my need to look at fanart, attractive men and nerdy stuff. I didn’t want to become totally disconnected. Just less dependent; less attached.

So this is the solution: less apps on my phone and less chance for a distraction. I kept Instagram so I could still post photos, a running app to help me stay motivated and track my progress (plus a writing app that does the same), Goodreads and WordPress. Not too shabby when I compare it to my old phone, which I had apps like QuizUp, Pinterest and Etsy, on top of social media feeds, on top of all the apps I kept. Of course, I could simply choose to check my phone less, but I know myself and the habit I’ve gotten into. Every time a notification popped up, I wanted to check it. So without the notification, without the apps, there is no temptation. And I can simply check everything later, once I’m on my laptop. Once or twice a day. Not once or twice every hour.

So friends, I’m sorry if I don’t see the adorable picture of your puppy sleeping with his tongue out immediately (though we both know I’m going to comment and freak out once I do). I’m sorry if it takes me a couple hours–or maybe even a day–to respond to an email. Sorry if your text isn’t answered five seconds after you sent it. We all know I’m a Luddite (the separate post I promised to write about that topic ages ago is still owed; like winter, it’s coming) and we all know you live one life. Personally, I could use a little less technology and a lot more living in the life I get, and not with my eyes glued down to a 4″ screen.



A week ago today, my phone broke.

*Cue dramatic opera music*

In this day and age, something like this is viewed as a tragedy. When my phone decided to restart itself and freeze on the loading screen, I was left powerless. Two trips to T-Mobile later, I still have no idea what was wrong with it and why it suddenly decided to fritz out. But they said they’d sent me a new one, out of a warranty. Cool. So I sat back to wait. The first day, it was hard. I kept checking my pockets, looking for it, and spend quite some time researching online, to see if I could fix it. No avail on that front, this phone was broken.

After accepting I was going to be phoneless for a while, I discovered quickly that I relied on my phone quite a bit. One, I no longer could communicate with home. And considering I am 1,300+ miles away from home at a summer job, that was a bit of an issue. Luckily, I had my laptop, so I was able to contact the familia through social media and let them know I could no longer text them or call them. Crisis averted. And, bonus, I taught my parents how to use Skype, so that was a blast. Two, I no longer had a camera. That was the biggest issue for me, as I went to the beach, Epcot, an aquarium and a museum all whilst my phone was broken, and couldn’t take any pictures (or post on Instagram, the only app I really care about). Three, I no longer had a way to tell time or had an alarm. Apparently, I need to buy a watch. And an alarm clock (though my laptop worked well as a minor replacement). Four (and the most humorous one): being from out of town, I looked up the address online for the nearest T-Mobile store and, not having a car down here, my friend/coworker gave me a ride. We got in the car and she asked where we were going. I immediately pulled out my phone and tried to turn it on so I could use Google Maps to direct me there. Quickly, I remembered my phone was broken and Google Maps wouldn’t work. And my friend has been lucky enough to avoid buying a smartphone. So we got out of the car, went back to the office, pulled up the directions and printed them. And then we went to store.

I’ve only had a smartphone for a little over a year. In a previous blog post, I wrote about how I didn’t like how dependent/attached I was becoming towards it, always feeling the need to check it because it was connected to *so* many things. Having it break and realizing how much I actually use it — for both beneficial and pointless reasons — reminded me how much technology dominated our world. And I didn’t like it.

Enter days two and three without a phone: I use my laptop to communicate with home. At this point, I’ve accepted that even though I get to go to all these cool field trips (aforementioned above), I won’t have a camera to capture them. I was still pretty bummed about this, but I’m no longer constantly looking for my phone or feeling the need to check it. By the time the weekend came and went, I was almost relieved to not have a phone to bother over, watching my coworkers have their noses glued to their screens and constantly looking for an outlet (but for good reason; we’re in charge of 100 kids for three weeks, after all; that communication is key).

A week later: new phone arrives in mail. My coworkers are more excited than I am. I wait to open the box, as I was in the middle of work and didn’t want to mess with it, then. Eventually, I open it, put in my SIM card and charge it, and TADA, new phone. Which I promptly ignore and then go back to working. After this post, I’m going to work on getting my contacts back and letting me know they can text me again, if they wish. But I’ve learned a few things from this experience, which is the entire point of this post, anyway:

One, not having a phone kinda sucks. For one, I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere, because people wouldn’t be able to contact me — and I couldn’t contact them — if there was an emergency. As someone who really thrives on alone time, there was a couple times during the field trips where I would break off and go off on my own. Maybe not the smartest move, considering I couldn’t contact anyone, but we had meeting points and they were public areas where I was constantly running into people from camp, so I’m not a complete imbecile. But, I was supposed to have a day off over the weekend, and I wanted to go to the beach and relax, but decided against it, because I didn’t have a phone. And that inconvenience kinda sucked. It was also hard to do my job without a working phone, but luckily, my coworkers were very flexible and helpful.

But, on the other hand, having a (smart)phone kinda sucks, too. Going a week without one made me realize how much I use mine, constantly feeling the need to check it or use it. It was really, really nice to unplug and disconnect from all of the social media and just enjoy the moments around me. I didn’t have to worry about replying to that text or how I missed 106 GroupMe messages while I was in the shower for 20 minutes. Walking around Epcot or the museum, instead of focusing on getting the perfect picture (I am a photographer, after all), I simply looked around and enjoyed; I simply experienced those places for what they were, not treating them like a photo assignment. That was a liberating feeling, as well.

Now that I have my phone back, I’m really excited to take pictures again. I’m glad that I can call my parents whenever I want now or text my friends and see how they are doing. But so far, I haven’t downloaded any apps besides Instragram (photographer, bro). And I’m not sure how many I want to download in the future. Or, maybe if I do download them, I might turn off the notifications so that I can check social media if I want to, but not necessarily be alerted every time something happens. Having that sense of freedom of not being bombarded by apps and notifications was really nice. Today, I wrote for a couple hours and never checked my phone once, even though it sat right beside me, just because I was slowly growing accustomed to not checking one. Two weeks ago, I would have checked it at least once every 15 minutes. I’m not kidding. The amount of alerts and other things that constantly pop up on my phone made me feel like I constantly needed to give it attention. But now, I realize that I can live a life where that doesn’t have to be the case (yes, I know that is obvious, but the reminder was needed). You can have a phone and not be glued to it. So that’s what I’m going to do: try to live a little more life and a little less technology. Try it. You may be surprised.