My Uneasy and Awkward Relationship With Facebook and Twitter

I deleted my Facebook and Twitter account a while back. I even recommended deleting these accounts to my readers because, as a writer, I found that deleting Facebook and Twitter helped to dramatically increase my productivity. It turns out that I was right: eliminating a couple of social networking sites does wonders for your focus and creativity. But then, after my 25th Birthday, I made a commitment to do more for my writing career, and that’s when I realized that I was also wrong: eliminating a couple of social networking sites does a lot to hinder your writing career.

So how is it possible that I can be BOTH right and wrong about deleting Facebook and Twitter?

The answer: As a beginning writer, I have to wear two hats. I am both the author of my book and its promoter. So, one day my author self told me: “To get the book done fast, you got to get rid of all those social networking accounts! They’re too distracting!” I listened to my author self and deleted my accounts. Then afterward, my promoter self said: “You do realize that you are alienating supporters who prefer to use Facebook and Twitter to connect with you, and not WordPress, right?”

It turns out that, in the end, BOTH my author AND my promoter self were RIGHT. And BOTH were WRONG. It was clear that if there WAS an answer to the above question, it was certainly not black and white.


I think we all have our reservations about Facebook and Twitter. Much of our unease is not the result of stubbornness, rebelliousness, or paranoia, as some may think. Some would say that not having a Facebook profile is like not having a laptop and insisting on using a chisel and a slab of stone. But these people are ignoring real, reasonable fears that the people who don’t have Facebook profiles have.

One example: people fear losing real-life connections. In this increasingly isolated world, where people are getting more and more busy, it’s hard to get some real face time with people. It’s hard to stay focused, present, and aware of the world around you. These “anti-Facebook” people are asking a very valid, reasonable question:

Is Facebook and Twitter really enriching conventional face-to-face interactions? Or is it REPLACING these interactions entirely, with something more shallow and superficial?

I admit, there are so many wonderful things about Twitter and Facebook, but there are so many awful things as well. I’m not going to be like other Bloggers who will paint both Facebook and Twitter as The Holy Grail for writers, or small business people, or anyone else trying to break into their ideal careers. Then again, I can’t say that Facebook and Twitter are Pure Evil, as a whole other group of Bloggers would contend.

I think that the elements that are missing from both Twitter and Facebook are a sense of mindfulness, consideration, and thoughtfulness. You get a lot of those three in the Blogging world. Why? Because you can’t build a blog readership without being mindful, considerate and thoughtful. It just ain’t gonna happen.

You see, words are powerful. Writers know this and we work every day to make sure our words encourage hope, love, pragmatism and positivity. Now, with the advent of Twitter and Facebook, everyone in the world has become a writer. But I’m still not sure that the whole world understands how much power this new status carries with it (pun intended). With the power to send your words across the world at a moments notice, also comes the power to influence the world at a moments notice.

I don’t think enough is done to encourage people on Facebook and Twitter to be more mindful about what they say and what they share. The internet can be so alienating to the point where some people still feel like they don’t have to suffer the consequences for their words. The internet is also so fast that some people don’t have the time to even think about the consequences that might come of their words. One accidental slip of the tongue that goes viral, for instance, and suddenly, because of that one little mistake, your career and your reputation could be on the line–everywhere. This is an entirely new phenomena. One that none of us are quite sure how to wrap our heads around yet. It is both an astounding and dangerous reality, and so we need to tread lightly forward.

With all that said, I’ve still come to the conclusion that there is no more use trying to avoid both Facebook and Twitter. It’s the only way to empower my fans and supporters to do what they keep telling me they would like to do: share and visit this blog in the way they feel most comfortable.

Another way to put it is this: whether I like it or not, Facebook is still going to host the boxing match. Leaving the ring while the fight is still going on without me just ensures that my opponent is going to win by my forfeiting. So, leaving the ring doesn’t help me any.

Therefore, I’m back in the social-networking ring, my friends.

But I didn’t return without setting down some important conditions:  First, I rejoined both Facebook and Twitter for purely professional reasons. (Sorry, I’m not gonna share pictures of me getting drunk on the 30th floor of that boat-shaped building in Dubai.) Also, my profiles on both sites will only be extensions of Courage 2 Create. That means that if you are on these sites you will be informed of updates to my blog, including an occasional “heads-up” on what kinds of posts I will be writing, and what special guests I will be featuring on the blog. However, you will still find the vast majority of the details concerning me and my novel right here, at www.thecourage2create.com.

Finally, my last condition: I am still uneasy about broadening the definition of “friend” to a title that can be earned with a simple click of a button. So, from now on, I’m not going to ask strangers or acquaintances if they would like to “add me as a friend on Facebook.”

Instead, I’m going to ask if they would like to “add me as a-new-acquaintance-who-hopes-to-after-some-time-spent-together-and-after-gaining-your-valuable-trust-will-(hopefully)-one-day-become-your-friend.”

It’s long (and a bit awkward) but I’m still gonna try it.

much “awkward turtle,”

Ollin

Is it just me, or do you also have an awkward and uneasy relationship with Facebook and/or Twitter? How do you limit these services without letting them interfere with your work and social life? I’m curious to hear what you have to say.

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Twitter: @ollinmorales

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32 comments on “My Uneasy and Awkward Relationship With Facebook and Twitter

  1. Excellent perspective and probably the first compelling article I have seen to convince me to try both Facebook and Twitter. Your thoughtfulness also shows that you are probably the same person in real life as you are on your blog. Nice.

    • Ollin says:

      Ah suddenwriteturn, I hate fake people. So yes, I’m sure if you met me in person you will find that I’m the same person I present myself here on this blog.

      I hope you can see there are pro’s and con’s, and I am still uneasy and awkward about the whole thing as you can see, but I couldn’t reason myself out of this. Reaching out to your readers and supporters is very important.

      Thanks!

  2. asilisis says:

    I really enjoyed reading your post, especially since I’ve been pondering the same question about social media. On one side, I have had my personal facebook account has been the one medium through which I’ve been able to stay in contact with friends I would’ve otherwise lost contact with ages ago (do to the distance & a hectic life). Facebook, for me, hasn’t limited or changed my real life interactions with people. On the contrary, it’s allowed me to reconnect with friends (and family) I wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to.

    Until recently, I hadn’t joined twitter. But then, and this is the other side, I took a freelance writing workshop where I was informed that the best way to promote yourself & your business/work is through Twitter & Facebook. So I joined Twitter (wrote a blog while I was joining… feel free to check it out if you’d like http://asilisis.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/twitter-what/) Now, I’m trying to navigate the “twitterverse” on a semi-personal level with aims to open new accounts on both networks once I’ve launched my business. However, the crutch of the matter is what happens when potential clients can find my personal Facebook & Twitter accounts? Will I have to do the drastic overhaul and delete both accounts, risking the loss of my current contacts?

    I don’t know if there is any way to work around it. It feels like, as the world progresses, it will become more and more normal for employers & employees to be able to google each other and find the dirty laundry that used to be easily concealed. Maybe it’ll be that no one will care anymore?

    Anyways, sorry to ramble away in this comment!

    • Ollin says:

      asilisis,

      That’s what this blog is for, haha. Ramble all you want.😉 These are questions that I have and I think many of my readers have, so I wonder what they will say to the points you have brought up.

      In my opinion, as I mentioned above, I think you should go in with that mindset. Imagine that either now, or at one point in the future, everyone can have access to the information that you share. So it is important to always consider and be thoughtful about what it is you do share.

      I have basically decided not to have a personal twitter or Facebook. Even this site is strictly professional {even thought I do dabble in the personal, but only as it pertains to a writer’s life and work}, and I think as long as you gear everything towards that end, I think you should be fine.

      Remember you are always putting out an image of you through these sites, and you want to make it one that is both respectable and admirable.

      Also, I think that the trick is to make those sites an extension of one main site. Like I’m doing with this blog, otherwise it can be overwhelming and very distracting.

      Remember: your intention is to advance your career, not to spend time watching spoofs of Glee on YouTube. Hehe.

      Good luck to you! I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

      • asilisis says:

        Hi again! Thanks for the reply & the encouragement! I will definitely take your advice for making social media an extension of one site, once I start that site. Right now I’m more or less dabbling to get used to the medium. Trying not to be too unprofessional, but allowing myself a bit more freedom in terms of blog topics & twitter posts. I hope that this will allow me to “get the jitters out” so to speak so that I will be able to focus on the professional side of things when I finally get everything under way. (not sure if it’s the “right’ way to go, but I guess I’ll find out).

        Btw, read your 4 essentials for a writing schedule – shared it on twitter as well, hope you don’t mind! – definitely going to refer to it again when I get discouraged or bogged down by life.🙂

        Cheers and happy writing!

        • Ollin says:

          Haha, of course I don’t mind, I guess that’s the whole point of this post, to let you feel comfortable sharing what you read here whenever you feel like it.

          Happy writing to you, too!

  3. I share pretty much the same views. I am uncomfortable with calling people friends, just because I would want them to promote me!

    Nice post🙂

    -BrownEyed

  4. Agatha82 says:

    I hate Facebook and I Twitter even more. Whilst I can see the point of Facebook up to an extent, I do not see the point in Twitter. Anyway, I do understand they are necessary evils if you want to promote your book/career etc. Something I am not going to be doing any time soon. Just wanted to wish you good luck as I am deleting my own blog soon.

    • Ollin says:

      I’m sorry to hear you are leaving Agatha.😦 We are all going to miss you dearly. Is there a way to be on an e-mail list to get updates about your book once it’s done? Let me know and good luck and best wishes to you!🙂

      • Agatha82 says:

        I am trying to figure out how to keep people posted. I’m entertaining the creation of a new blog under my pen name Siobhan Murphy and maybe that’s where I’ll do updates. Trying to plan things now but I need to start over instead of re-using that actual blog. Will keep you posted🙂

        • Ollin says:

          Yay! I just want to make sure that when you become a success I get the chance to say “I knew her! I knew her!” Well, at least in the blogging sense.😉

  5. Tammy McLeod says:

    I enjoy connecting with people via these social media tools but I believe you’re correct about the productivity issue. The other thing is that as a writer, I NEED to write and when I was whipping out witty 140 character statements all day, it satisfied the need. Then there wasn’t much else. I use both today mainly to connect with folks on social issues and have found that much of my blog traffic comes from those sources.

    • Ollin says:

      Yes, it is a way to reach out to those people who won’t be dropping by WordPress any time soon, and who only use Twitter and Facebook to connect with people. So I don’t think it is wise anymore to close myself off from people who don’t feel comfortable are not familiar with wordpress. Thank you for your thoughts!🙂

  6. milkfever says:

    Obviously my author side is stronger than my promoter side because, although I have facebook, it gets about as much attention as my cornices get dusting. Do I feel guilty? No, not really. Because my work-in-progress needs all my love and attention. And facebook is like a teenager, it can pretty much take care of itself.

    Twitter, I suspect is a toddler, I’d be chasing it around all day long just to keep up. For now, at least, Twitter is best left in other, more capable hands, like yours Ollin. I’d forget to feed it.

    • Ollin says:

      Ha, ha! That was hilarious Lisa. Great analogies. I’m just making myself open to it, I’m thinking checking in on it only once a week or so. We’ll see how it goes.

      I’m excited for Monday!🙂

  7. Ollin – great post and I enjoy your thoughts as always. I agree you seem to be taking the right stance on Facebook and Twitter. I’d suggest scheduling time for each that makes sense, whether that is once a week, once a day, etc. If you schedule it, you’ll do it…and hopefully not overdo it.

    That leaves the vast majority of time for the author side of you for now.

    • Ollin says:

      That’s a great idea, workingtechmom. {Nice flow, too. ;)} Oh, I’m going to make it once a week, then. I can only get so much of those sites, lol.

  8. M. Howalt says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, as I have considered some of the same issues. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter at the moment and never have, but I am considering making a Twitter account to be a little more … available to people who don’t want to read my long-winded ramblings on WordPress and would rather have shorter updates.
    Thanks for writing this! It gave me something to consider.

    • Ollin says:

      Like I said, it isn’t black and white. I wish it was. I think each of us needs to make a decision as to how we choose to get involved. But one thing is clear, FB and Twitter won’t be going away any time soon, and if anything, they will be come more prevalent and less likely to go away any time soon.

  9. twotoned says:

    I deleted my Facebook once in search of peace and “productivity.” However, I think it was also a way for me to promote people to read my blog, therefore I was caught in a dilemma like you. In the end, I decided to activate Facebook and let it make its own magic.

  10. Ollin says:

    Oh my. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Yup, people overshare a bit too much. It’s time that we bring more mindfulness to the habit!

  11. souldipper says:

    Ollin, I like the way you finally approached it…professionally. I spend very little time on FB and almost none on Twitter. I keep thinking I’m missing a point – what causes people to spend so much time on twitter? Is it threads or does it make them feel plugged in and current?

    I post my blog titles on Twitter – some readers post stuff from my blog onto Twitter.

    Guess I treat them both as teenagers! 🙂

    • Ollin says:

      Yeah, if it doesn’t work for you then it just doesn’t. Maybe the best would be to find the right site that works well with you. But then again, you want as much as a broad stroke as possible, to get in touch with people you may be missing. I’m just covering all my bases I guess, just in case.

  12. What a well-considered reflection on social media and its connection to both hindering and helping our writing careers. Personally, I am on Twitter. I pop on occasionally to check in with some of my blogging buddies, but sometimes days pass without my signing on. I’ve never been on Facebook. I’ve always reasoned, perhaps short-sightedly, that, if a relationship wasn’t meant to be, superficial contact over Facebook wasn’t going to help (e.g. do I really need to be back in touch with the girl in my 7th grade class that wasn’t all that nice to me?). But I appreciate your perspective on how it might be advantageous once I seek to promote my work. To be continued, I suppose…

    • Ollin says:

      It’s a complicated issue for writers, and definitely when we all have to deeply consider before we make a conclusion. It’s all new territory. Good luck to you!🙂

  13. amanda says:

    I was definitely wary of Twitter, but I’ve found so many great links, contacts and information through it that I’m happy I finally joined. And, by keeping it professional only, you don’t run into the mess of REALLY unnecessary distractions — Just KIND OF unnecessary sometimes😉

  14. Barb says:

    Sent you friend request with real name… “liked” you as author… if you’d be so kind to “like” me, link to my author page is on my sidebar!😉
    Commenting before reading the post, so I might be back with more!😀

  15. […] I wanted to thank Ollin Morales for his blog about Facebook and Twitter and whether we writers should be on them.  I’ve recently joined Facebook, something I also […]

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