3 Horrible Mistruths About Social Media That Drive Me Insane

Flickr / tq2cute

Flickr / tq2cute

This post really needs no introduction. Let’s just get to the rant, in my favored numbered list format.

  1. “Who cares what you had for lunch?” Your excuse for hating social media is that people talk about what they’re eating? You know what the problem is? You have boring friends with no personality. Find someone worthwhile to follow online, and if that person DOES talk about their lunch, I guarantee you’ll want to know about it.
  2. “It’s mindlessly narcissistic and ego-driven.” Are you only following celebrities, rappers, and politicians? Or those snobby popular kids from high school? Because the people I know on social media are relentlessly OTHER-focused, service-oriented, and humble. Otherwise, no one would follow them.
  3. “It’s a time waster.” Relationship building is a waste of time? Having a conversation and sharing information is a waste of time? OK, I admit, some people get sucked in and really DO waste their time, but just because some people can’t be self-disciplined doesn’t mean it’s a time waster. We’re grown ups. We can handle the responsibility of writing, working, AND being social, can’t we?

Join my rant and share your favorite mistruths in the comments.

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Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer's Digest, where she ultimately became publisher; more recently, she was an editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she led digital strategy. Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017). Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.
Posted in Digital Media.


  1. Hallelujah! I agree with this rant all the way. And I’m usually not a fan of rants, unless I’m doing the ranting.

    But there’s also a mistruth that comes from the opposite side of the spectrum that drives me insanely insane (okay, not really). I strongly dislike when extremists treat social media as if it’s the ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL. 

    Them: “If you’re not utilizing [insert social media thingy here] then you’re not serious about [life/your profession/saving The Shire from the evil clutches of Sauron. He’s a big meany pants!].”

    Me (staring blankly): “C’mon son.”

    From reading your posts, I’ve found that your feelings toward social media coincide with mine. I don’t love or hate social media. I don’t be believe social media is a waste of time. Nor do I believe it’s the absolute greatest use of one’s time. It can be fun and it can be a great tool (2 things that make me swoon). But it’s not going to save the world (boo!). Nor is it going to destroy it (yay!). Flesh and blood people will do those things.

    Personally, I follow celebrities, rappers, politicians and also really cool peeps like Jane Friedman. I’m all about balance really. People should use, or not use, whatever they feel like however they feel like it. It ain’t that serious. Seriously.

  2. “People who are engaged in social media are poor communicators in person.”

    This one has always perplexed me. Why would I magically have a sense of humor or be interesting via social media, if I hadn’t learned to be that way in my life away from the computer screen? If anything, my “real world” relationships have been enhanced by our use of social media. Even my professional relationships, especially in writing, have greatly benefited from social media. Some of them even began on blogs and twitter.

    •  Ashley I’m glad to see this is true for you. However, I don’t think it’s the same for others. I was at an event recently and my fellow vendors were so invested in their FB and Twitter accounts via cell phone and internet they lost many leads. But I guess that could be a product of not being able to disconnect which would be entirely different. Thanks for the comment nonetheless.

      • Bri and Ashley:
        Is the misuse of social media a fault of the technology or the individuals who are using it. Though I find people who sit next to me at a party texting and interacting on the internet instead of ingaging in none technological conversations extrememly rude, I can’t blame the internet. I suspect these individual’s  were rude long before that.

        •  I agree with Patrick in that you can’t misuse somethat that has no rules.

          We are all responsible for our own actions so if someone is spending more time on social media than what allows them to function well in other areas of their lives then they have to learn to set boundaries. If one looked at them closely it would be more than likely that they had other areas without boundaries as well.

        • I had an uncle actually have his phone on and holding it up across from his face during (DURING!) my cousin’s wedding/exchanging of the vows in a church! The entire time! I was behind him and talk about distracting! I was in shock! He won’t be invited to my wedding or sans phone. If that is possible. For so many these days, it’s a tough thing to ask even for an hour! Sad. But I’m pretty bad myself. But I never had my phone out at that wedding or reception. 

    • I’m with you on this point Ashley. I don’t post endlessly on my FB so what I do post I try to make interesting and relevant to my friends and family. On twitter, since I use it professionally, I have found the 140 character limit really pushes me to refine the point I am trying to make and to drag out some of the dustier words in my vocabulary to say what I mean in that limited space. If anything, I’m communicating better now than before.

  3. I agree with you on all points. I seldom follow celebrities because I don’t care what they had for lunch. But I get most of my industry news and headlines from Twitter and other social media outlets. It is so vast, that there are ways for everyone to use. Those that say it is a waste of time have their heads in the sand.

  4. Thank you!  My son has a rare syndrome (Smith-Magenis Syndrome) that is very under-diagnosed.  We only know of 600 people in the world.  I talk to people in Canada, Mexico, UK, Australia…not to mention all 50 states.  Would never happen without social media!  Our small fundraiser in Ohio was attended by a family from Vietnam last year (REALLY)!  She joined my facebook page…

    • tmcgrevy: I found a brother and nephew I hadn’t seen for ten years through FB. Though neither are very good at communicating, without FB I doublt I’d ever have found them. The social media is a wonderful tool for enabling us to connect to the world from our desk. How we choice to use that tool is up to us.

      • Shawn: this is my primary use for FB too. Without it I wouldn’t have any idea what is going on in the lives of my neices. We don’t chat, but I see their posts and they see mine so we have some tenuous connection that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with some of my high school friends as well. I held off joining for years as one of those ‘waste of time’ people. Now I realize I’m the one that was wasting time I could have been connected to my family and friends.

    • I also use social media to connect with people that way, too! It’s wonderful. I have a rare genetic disorder called Schwannomatosis (also under-diagnosed) and Twitter and Facebook have helped connect me in a way that has been healing, educational, and supportive. I will admit in the beginning I followed maybe 25-30 celebs and I may follow 8-9 now if that. I use it primarily for professional reasons/networking as a professional writer/editor, connecting on the health and genetic disorder front, and chronic pain, in general. Those are the biggies. 

    • I also use social media to connect with people that way, too! It’s wonderful. I have a rare genetic disorder called Schwannomatosis (also under-diagnosed) and Twitter and Facebook have helped connect me in a way that has been healing, educational, and supportive. I will admit in the beginning I followed maybe 25-30 celebs and I may follow 8-9 now if that. I use it primarily for professional reasons/networking as a professional writer/editor, connecting on the health and genetic disorder front, and chronic pain, in general. Those are the biggies. 

    • Total sidenote: a blogger from my area put together a charity album (his kid has Smith-Magenis) for PRISMS. Social Media was huge in getting the word out about the album.

      (Here is the link: http://www.dofunstuff.net/)

  5. Thanks Jane. I need to tuck this away somewhere for the inevitable family get-together questions. They keep asking, so I suspect they know there’s a reason I use SM but so far I haven’t gotten through. Maybe this will help. On the other hand, I don’t really want to follow most of my relatives…

    •  I know a woman who has unoperable brain cancer. Her well educated, well researched, valid doctors told her it was from her cellphone.  I wish there was more anti-cell phone propaganda…

  6. Like any other tool, social media is neutral. As a way of building relationships and learning, always learning, it’s invaluable. (Hey, I found your blog via a social media!)

  7. Good ones! Another: You have to follow everyone who follows you or you’re doing it wrong.

    This comes from the fallacy that the person with the most followers wins.

    In reality, if you follow a lot of people whose tweets don’t interest you, you’re not going to enjoy social media anyway. After awhile, you’ll get bored and move on.

    Social media isn’t about following or being followed. It’s about being *social* – interacting with people. It’s also about sharing – information, emotion, life.


  8. Have to admit that I disagree completely with the premise, but I believe that all three items you list are basic truths and I thank you for enumerating them:

    1. The “lunch” argument is meant to point out the general inanity of much SM content, specifically as it is thrown onto Twitter. Pick a random Twitter use that you think is “great” (don’t peek at their feed first, just pick the user). Now load that page and read the posts. See any that are inane like that? I’m sure you will. Some people don’t want to put that kind of thing in their life.

    2. Your argument does not hold. Thousands, sometimes millions, of people follow extremely narcissistic, ego-driven celebrities and rappers and polititians. And the snobby popular kids. So “being humble” is not an automatic reason that people will follow others online. Everyone who is on SM (well, Twitter, because that’s what your post is about) is there to sell something (especially themselves). It’s a huge social-marketing fest. I don’t mean that everyone is saying “buy my book”; of course they’re not doing it. But everyone on it (everyone successful that is) is saying “here’s my brand, know it and love it, will ya?” And they are saying that constantly. And those who are good at it (and can stomach the constant act) are pretty much narcissists, driven by their egos.

    3. I don’t think 140 character bursts is an effective, futuristic, or even good way to facilitate conversation. That’s why so much of Twitter is stupid: it’s either crude or somehow obscene or in poor taste (porn stars LOVE Twitter), or it’s just a dumb one-liner joke. That’s the bulk of it right ther, and yes I think that is a HUGE time waster. Also, the best relationships I have are forged first of all in person, and secondly, if they are epistalory relationships, they aren’t forged in 140 characters (or egotistically in public). I’m not saying that relationships CAN’T be forged or aided by Twitter use. I’ve done it myself. And if there’s, say, 300 people in the biz “on my radar” right now, of course I can’t see or call or write to all of them. Much easier to follow, retweet, or send a 10-word one-liner to one of them and that will do more than not contacting them at all. So in that way, an active presence on the public one-liner-trading fest that is Twitter will do you go. But again, it’s all about ego-driven marketing.

    • 1. Twitter content mimics the content you will find elsewhere. Inanity is not new to social media. 

      2. You sound like a very cynical person.

      3. To summarize your point: It’s not an either/or situation. I agree! There’s a time and place for all types of communication. So why are you so critical of Twitter when it’s another facet of human expression? 

      Perhaps you believe social media exacerbates our negative qualities. That’s a more interesting argument than the one you’ve made.

    • Sam:
      From a business perspective, is using SM to promote your product or authorship any different than what happens with TV, Radio, Mag. billboards or any of the other thousands of way human beings have found to connect what they offer to those who are looking to acquire? If anything, SM has allowed a vast number of individuals the opportunity to connect with other likeminded individuals in a manner that doesn’t cost us our first born child and allows us a greater audience than we had other wise. Do some abuse this? Yes. But then abuse comes in lots of disguises, even the one that allows people to rant.

    •  Meh, meh, and meh. I shared this on FB and found much of this article nails general negative attitudes about many forms of SM beyond twitter, including facebook. Everyone who is on social media is NOT there to sell something. People who want to keep abreast with friends and topics at a glance, people who are chat-centric, people who express themselves better through the written word than in person, people (like me) who live rural and find SM an  actual (gasp!) social network–often utilize facebook and twitter accounts. Many of these people are selling nothing to nobody.

      As to your assertion that those who are good at presenting themselves on SM are “pretty much narcissists, driven by their egos”. I disagree so vehemently, I cannot tell you. Some, maybe, but I have many dear, wonderful friends who are quite excellent at presenting themselves in a professional, entertaining manner on facebook and twitter–friends with thousands of followers. Many of those friends are the ones who write me worried if I don’t post, or sense when I’m sad in a status andst send me a little pick me up message.

      Writers, journalists, public speakers, and performers don’t have the luxury of being falsely modest. Our sales and careers depend on publicity, and pretending that we don’t care about issues that ultimately effect how much food we can put on the table, or if we can send our kids to college, has no place in the real world. Yep, I use facebook and other forms of SM to try and convince people that I am a good writer and a good speaker. One man’s “ego centric” is another woman’s “cheery confidence”. But I also use facebook to connect with old friends, find new friends, reach out to others, support charities, monitor my children and stay involved with topics of interest to them, flirt with my husband, and get dinner ideas. Oh, and one post from a friend resulted in a book idea that just sold to Hyperion in quite an excellent book deal. So yea, I guess I’m saying I disagree with you.

      • You say you disagree with me, but in the same paragraph admit that SM is important to your career and income. That being true, how could it ever be possible that someone in your position would ever be able to agree in public with my original post? You couldn’t, and that’s my point.

    • Agree 100%. Original article title should be  TRUTHS, not MISTRUTHS. Especially the part about narcissism.

  9. I was out for dinner last night and was asked why do I waste time on twitter.
    ‘ I have had a radio interview about my new novel, some great reviews and I am sure a few sales,’ was my answer. 

    They still didn’t get it!

  10. Thanks for this. I realized early that not liking social media because it’s inane/mindless/a waste of time is like saying you don’t like talking because *it’s* inane/mindless/a waste of time. 
    Yes, the majority of both probably are. Yet we happily continue talking!

  11. Love it! 
    Relationships are important to us both personally and in business.  Social Media is just one of the tools in the tool-chest that I use everyday.  Like any tool, there are different types or sizes and we can choose to  use one or more that work well for us. 

    I like having many options available to me.  I find social media a vital piece of the equation for Relationship Marketing today.  I also love the deeply divergent  conversations on all sorts of topics that are there for the enjoyment of all who choose to take part. 

    I am a Google+ enthusiast, although I do use a number of other platforms as well.
    Also on occasion, like to know where someone had a great lunch so we can try the restaurant!

  12. Well said, Jane!  I second the responder who said saying social media is a waste of time is like saying talking is a waste of time. 

    Surely, as with all communication tools, social media can be misused — but your post shares what I have observed about tools like Twitter: it is all in how you use it.  Finding the right people to follow makes all the difference in the world –which is no different than choosing which conversations you would engage in at an office.  Avoid the negative gossips, the bloated boasters, the bores.  Engage meaningfully with the colleagues who want to see each other successful, and trade the resources to accomplish it.  And walk away, back to work, when time for conversation is done. 

  13. I love social media, In the last year and a half I have reconnected with family members I had not heard from in years. Its helped me put my book out into the world. I found my publisher on line and now I can twitter about my book. So its only mindless to the mindless.

  14. I think that a lot of people have trouble judging what’s sort of interesting and quirky and what should be kept private. I’ve seen way too many Facebook posts about people’s problems with CHILD SUPPORT and cheating/soon-to-be ex spouses, etc. And I’d rather not read a ton of posts that are so cryptic that they communicate NOTHING—which totally negates the point of social media! (Ok. Mini rant is over.)

  15. The basic point of social media is often lost. That point being the keyword “social.” We are a social society from telling stories via a camp fire to sharing reviews online word of mouth will forever be a constant among us. And with that constant comes information we may not be interested in. It’s our choice if we continue to share that fire. 

  16. “Virtual friends aren’t real friends, anyway.”

    Seriously? Guess I imagined the donations for a colleague with an ill child, the facilitation with travel arrangements and accommodation. Guess I’ve been fooled when they’ve come to know more secrets than my own family, yet done all they could to facilitate my career.   

    • Once upon a time, that was the common world view of anyone someone knew online.

      You would think that all these years later, with online friends meeting in real life, important, life-saving medical information being shared and helping people to live longer, healthier lives, and just getting back in touch with family and friends long thought lost would turn some of these nay-sayers around.

      You make excellent points here, Jan.  Glad to hear the stuff about the very real humanity of those “virtual friends” where that child was concerned.

  17. Cliche:  “Social media has no ROI”

    Truth:  Really?  I’ve personally developed several key business relationships worth WAY more than time invested in social media.  Notice the word “developed” though… it’s not an overnight thing.

    Just because we have the unlimited power to connect because of these tools doesn’t make process of connecting with another human being any faster.


  18. Pffft . . . to the haters.

    I am an over-50 childless woman living in a very small town. If you don’t have a flock of kids/grandkids or obsess over your church, there’s not a lot to talk about with my neighbors (the weather only goes so far). So, how is spending some morning coffee and evening time chatting with my diverse group of writer/geek friends all over the world a waste? Social media is one of the ways I am able to make the most of living in the middle of nowhere and enjoying it.

    Is is because I’m not talking in person about the weather? Or what adorable/obnoxious thing my kid did? Or bitching about taxes/school board/whatever? Or the endless church discussions? Yes, I do occasionally get carried away. Have the haters never had a phone call run 3 hours without them realizing it?

    I still prefer Facebook to Twitter because of the slower pace. However, my Twitter feed is full of diverse interesting people and I like eavesdropping on their lives and occasionally finding out what they had for lunch.


  19. Exactly Jan. I have several “imaginery friends” that I turn to when I have a problem or something to brag about. How is it different from someone you keep in contact with by phone?

  20. I love your seriously – seriously? are you serious?

    Erm… I think we live in a narcissistic time filled with celebrity can mean reality star or Royal Shakespearean theater. So yes, there’s a lot of narcissism in social media. There’s a lot of psychopathy – which is a little more disturbing to me.

    And a lot of people talk about lunch. If they’re not talking about food, they’re often talking about sex, which is kind of yucky.

    And hell, I can waste time doing anything.

    There are people connecting, living, talking, chatting and laughing. In life, you find what you look for. For these folks, why are they looking for the narcissistic foodie to waste their time on when there’s someone cool to chat with just over there?

    •  Ha ha! I love “Narcissistic Foodies”. I think it should be a blog name, or hell, a band name! One of my top reasons for being on facebook is to follow foodie friends, and my own food posts have been among my most liked. Narcissistic foodies UNITE! 😉

  21. Well said Jane. I think it’s ignorant for people to dismiss social media without fully understanding it, much like anything in life. A friend who used to laugh at me being on Twitter has recently understood it’s full potential and is making fantastic business connections and meeting them offline with amazing results. I’m so glad she has seen the light! :)

  22. I recently got a rather condescending remark from a friend after I posted about going grocery shopping and mentioned a few of the food items I’d purchased. I could understand their annoyance at reading something so inane, but I’ve been recently going on a health kick; exercising more and eating better, and as part of that I’ve tried to share some of the things I eat as a means to give others ideas for what they might want to purchase if they’re interested in going down the same road.

    I’ve been on the other end of this too though, recently posting about how exasperating it is to check my friend feed and see someone share a dozen different images that are just insipid quotes that got rejected from the clown school for motivational poster design. The problem in my mind is that I *could* put those people on an ignore list, but they’re often times close friends and family and part of the reason I participate in the social media engine is to keep up to date with them. I want to know about their life events, but unfortunately Facebook’s parsing doesn’t seem to know the difference when it comes to sharing these trash images. So as a means to vent my frustration, I posted about wanting to smother Tim Berners-Lee as a child. I was expressing myself without singling anyone out for criticism.

    On a second reading, maybe these two things aren’t really related. You take the good with the bad, right? Sometimes someone might post something that interests you. Other times they post stuff you couldn’t care less about.  In the end, I feel much closer to people I would probably otherwise have never spoken to again (like you, Jane!) and I find the camaraderie that has been taken up by celebrities a breath of fresh air. Their lives are really no more exciting than our own, so it’s ridiculous to expect them to always and only ever have something interesting to say.

  23. I have to say I was not interested in Twitter until I got involved with it through Robert Lee Brewers April Platform Challenge. It has opened a new world to me. I really did think it was all about inane topics and self-absorbed people.

    I have been extremely pleased to say I have found otherwise and have made wonderful connections with people interested in the topic of my book as well as those who have gone before in the field of elder care.

    Following people like Jane, or Joel Friedlander, or others who tweet gems throughout the day is inspiring.

    Thanks for the post Jane.

  24. Too true. I had my doubts back in the day, but my life is very social these days, and it certainly creates some possibilities. All in all, Social media is here to stay

    and that’s no bad thing

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  25. If I understand your article correctly, the items in bold are things that people say about social media, and the paragraphs go on to explain how the bolded items are mistruths and why you disagree, correct?  I believe that the bolded points are not necessarily mistruths, which indicates that the information is not accurate, but half truths, meaning that there is some truth to the statements.

    I am one of those people who is not interested in learning about what food products are consumed, or my all-time favorite “hello tweepland” or “good night tweepland.”  If all 600 people I followed said good morning or good night on Twitter, I’d go nuts.

    I disagree with your assessment.  I believe many, if not most social media users are narcissistic because of the way they choose to use social media.  They are out there to promote their products, services, and events.  People who are the “big guns” on Twitter, for example, do not bother to respond.  They are too big for their britches!

    I agree with your final point.  I do not believe social media is a time waster.  I use social media mostly for research and information, primarily as a learning tool.

    Amanda Socci, Alexandria, Virginia

    • You make a good point that these statements could be true from a particular perspective. That’s why I’ve labeled this a rant.  😉

      But sincerely: These “mistruths” drive me insane primarily because they set up an either/or environment, i.e., either social media is horrible (and we’re forced to use it, god forbid) or it’s rainbow and unicorns. Of course neither is true.

      The “mistruths” I’ve stated, in my experience, result from people’s misunderstanding of the medium, limited experience, and/or less-than-ideal use. Also, people love to generalize rather than acknowledge the complexity of the issue … so I appreciate your comment especially because it acknowledges the issue isn’t clear cut.

      I also think “narcissism” is being used interchangeably with [crass/ineffective] “sales and marketing behavior,” but they aren’t the same thing. When you receive spam or junk mail, you don’t think of the sender, “OMG, how narcissistic!” Or, when you see your favorite rock star at a concert, you don’t get mad because he doesn’t have time to personally shake everyone’s hand during the show.

      But for a moment, let’s assume narcissism & sales/marketing behavior go hand in hand. Perhaps social media, as a tool, does lend itself to such behavior, and that’s a weakness. One hopes that, given how new this medium is, that it will evolve so that the common perception isn’t that “most” social media users are out there to self-promote. That’s certainly not my own perception, but I’ve also been out there a long time, and selective about how I connect with people. I’ve learned to ignore or block the bad experiences and bad apples. Not so different from most things in life!

      • Jane what you just said above – that the “mistruths” result from people’s misunderstanding of the medium, limited experience, and/or less-than-ideal use – hits the nail on the head.  I wrote a blog post for our peeps recently to try to give them tips on how to effectively use social media for themselves.  I see a lot of articles about how to use social media for your brand and for growing your business, but not as many that attempts to educate the end user.  I think people tend to get intimidated by these platforms and they check out as a result.

  26. LOVE THIS POST!!! Thank you so much Jane for clarifying why I love to hang out at the TwitterVille Bar: always inspirational… always informative… always deeeelicious!



  27. Here here! I work with indie authors daily, and hearing these excuses to NOT market their books using social media is incredibly aggravating. Authors, especially, NEED to be on social media to market their books. It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing traditionally or not–unless you’re Stephen King, you are not going to attract your audience without embracing social media. And even Stephen King should do it.

  28. Are people really still saying these things? It seems like responses from the early days of Twitter. 
    Also, I wonder about the kinds of people saying these things. Perhaps they’re not entrepreneurs or businesspeople who find these tools very useful. Perhaps they’re not of a generation who cares about these kind of things. 

    If they’re in business, and they’re that ostrich about SM, they could be served by an open-minded perspective re: trying new things. 

    I don’t hear a lot of this kind of talk. 

    What BLOWS ME AWAY is that everywhere I go, either here or in Europe, and I mean EVERYWHERE – I will ALWAYS hear someone mention Facebook within the first minute of my encounter with them. (Sorry for the caps but it really is amazing, the proliferation of this platform.)

    Examples include: 

    farmers at the wee farmer’s market in a wee village in Ireland mentioning FB and YouTube

    people on the métro in Paris with their phones open to Facebook

    overheard conversations on the street in Denver

    opening salvos with friends at any gathering  – the word ‘Facebook’ is guaranteed to be in that first sentence. Even if they’re not a Facebook user. 

    That’s some powerful ubiquity. In this case, the platform IS the conversation. 

    • Thanks for jumping in! 

      I was at a conference this weekend and heard these things, but not  from business people. I think it’s partly generational, though not entirely, since I have several traditional students at UC who argue that social media is narcissistic, time-wasting, and inane. 

      Of course, it can be those things, like any part of life can. Perhaps these students (and others) are pushing back against something that’s being shoved down their throats? Or they feel bitterly obliged to participate in it? Or they’ve had bad experiences using it? Or they feel it’s inauthentic and not trustworthy? Or it’s possibly a combination of these factors …

  29. Someone mentioned “tool” in a recent post. (Biting my lip here…) Which was going to be the crux of my argument in support of Jane’s rant. I have developed Twitter carefully to weed out the things I am not interested in. I take a few minutes each day to scan (Sam, look it up) the posts, click and deposit them in my doc files to read later and answer those posts that I wish to answer (as in walking down the hall and saying hello to some and not to others; it’s a communication device). Used correctly, it is highly beneficial; again used correctly. You wouldn’t hammer a nail in a wall with a screw gun, right? Twitter, in particular, is the best tool I’ve found for digging deep from people I respect and ignoring the rest. And I have found no one to date Tweet about there lunch;  or maybe it didn’t register in my scan. I happily ignore the inane. 

  30. Good work Jane, one can only try–thanks for this. 
    I think social media is in its ‘warm little pond’ phase. Every pond has its scum and every one sees their own breed as the one which ‘should’ dominate. Can’t control the beast. 

  31. Pingback: The Doggie Door | Briellezbub's Tales

  32. Umm, my new goal is to spend more time on social media (yes, really!)  Writing is not my full time job, I don’t live in the world of agents and publishers and the latest wants/needs.  I follow blogs and tweets and updates and consider it “continuing education” like my teaching (career of 10 years) requires.

    And my kids are cute, and say funny shit that other people love reading about…

  33. #1. “I’m too old for that stuff.” Listen, if I’m not too old for this, no one is!
    #2  “I’m no techie, so it would be too hard.” Listen again, please. If it’s not too hard for me, it’s not too hard for anyone.  

    Just take it slow, lurk and learn, then be selective, and don’t fear “unfollowing” once you discover who’s who and what’s what. 
    Great post, Jane.

  34. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this! So often I am plagued by the commentary of those who see social media as the thing that is “ruining society”–sure, it’s advancing simulacra, but it’s also expanding most people’s globes, and that, to me, is a wonderful thing. I love the fact that I can “meet up” and collaborate with writers near and far. And as a shy individual in person, I relish the ability to take time to think things through before saying them, which is a gift not often afforded me in day-to-day conversation when I’m expected to be clever or profound or hilarious on the spot! 

  35. Damnit, Jane! I love it when you e-rant. P.S. My wife just made pasta, she’s the best cook in the universe, and I thought I’d e-comment on your e-rant for no good reason at all. 

  36. i love this counter to the *digital dualism* underneath much of social media hate (for those who get to know SM and conclude we’re now “alone together”): http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/04/23/sherry-turkles-chronic-digital-dualism-problem/

    As the author David Banks writes at Cyborgology: ” I will gladly live in a world where Cape Cod tourists are distracted by Facebook updates if it means disadvantaged groups have tools to reach out and organize across geographic boundaries. Let the rich be alone together, the rest of us will find something to talk about.”

  37. Social media is just a tool, some people use it poorly in ways which are very annoying – and it’s ok to be annoyed by those things.

    I agree that it is silly to dismiss the whole medium because of this, it would be like saying talking is a waste of time because some people talk rubbish.

  38. You inspired me to commit to the blogsphere a recent rant I had to a guy who declared that all social media (and the internet in general) was taking civilisation down a one-way road to hell. He had locked away all his computers lest his children get their hands on them… I’m tired of hearing about how social media is destroying our kids. I think the contrary is true – that it’s creating a generation of people who are far more open in their communication with each other, who have access to support networks as never before and who are learning to filter and question information. 

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  40. Back in 2009 I was extremely skeptical about starting Twitter. I did think it would be following celebs, techie folks, some companies, and maybe some bloggers. To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure. I did my fair share of exploring and testing the waters and I could not believe what a resource Twitter could be for writers! This was never discussed in grad school! ha! :) I am still amazed at who it is coming from (impressive) and the amount of info. Yes, you can spend all day & not write, too. But like Jane said we are all adults. I try to be most of the time! :) But I am very strict as to who follows me and who I follow. There are certain criteria (interests, hobbies, fav people & authors, etc.)  and then I weed out the rest. It takes some time but I really enjoy my Twitter experience. I even e-mail certain Tweets to keep to read for later. It is ever-growing. I have found a few snobs on Twitter who really don’t have to be but they are anyway. It’s a shame. Just like in real life, I tried to engage w/ them and nodda. So there. It is what is is. But I rarely ever get food tweets. I have sent a few myself. There are more on FB actually. I actually run to TWITTER to get away from FB. It’s my oasis sometimes given all the lovely vacation photos, handsome doctor pics, beautiful grinning children, etc. “Calgon, take me away.” TWITTER is exactly what I need. It’s my dose of reality and my link to what I am most passionate about — writing and books. I am surprised I ever return to Facebook! :) Don’t get me wrong! I love my friends and family. It just gets overwhelming sometimes on there. Especcially now that photos are like 5 x7 and bigger. 😉

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  42. Love this, Jane! Here’s one of mine.

    “I can’t find friends.”

    Uh, you talk to people. Show a genuine interest in what they’re posting. It’s a principle I learned from that old book How to Win Friends and Influence People. When you show more interest in someone other than yourself, people will find you incredibly engaging.

  43. Absolutely, writing your thoughts about what’s going on in The community of the living and dying and in our own immediate community is giving voice to our concerns for each other, our hopes, our dreams. An invitation to our families to join us in communicating our daily adventure.

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  45. Relationship building is a waste of time?

    No. But Facebook doesn’t build any relationships worth the name.

    • I’m probably foolish to argue with you, since I believe you’ve made up your mind, but … if you’re trying to build relationships with strangers, it can be rather difficult to build anything meaningful, I agree.

      Used as a way to maintain a connection with people you’ve met and don’t see very often? Invaluable.

      • Entirely unnecessary. E-mail does me just fine for maintaining connections at that level – which of course is not the same thing as a relationship.

        If I want relationships, I go see people face to face.

  46.   bullseye jane,  well said,  as a writer, soc. media has delivered relationships by the dozens for me…..

  47. I agree. I’m new to social media and have already learned a lot by following people who are in the know in the writing field. I’m thankful this technology exists.

  48. “If you want to talk to people leave the house and talk to them.” I’ve been using the internet for socializing for more than a decade. I grew up in a small town and the Internet brought me the chance to learn about more than I ever dreamed there was in the world as a teenager.

    There are still a lot of people who don’t think socializing online is “real” socializing and that it’s ruining us. 

    It was really helpful to me when I had my son 2 years ago and getting out during the day (because of all the darned naps babies take) to get out of the house on a regular basis, so talking on Twitter and via forums may have saved my sanity.

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  52. First of all, just the idea of posting what you had for lunch on social media is stupid enough. Yes, maybe you do care about what your friend had for their meal, that’s you. But what about your friend? Try to delve deeper into why people feel the need to post about the silliest and most inane things that don’t add value to anything. You’re going to read that post and forget about it seconds later. I call these posts the “and?” posts. Personally, I have no interest in what my friend ate for lunch no matter who it was or how interesting they are, unless they ate a fried scorpion and told me how it tasted, I don’t wanna know that they had a banana for breakfast showing up on my newsfeed. That piece of info is boring and pointless and I am more interested in knowing why someone feels the need to update everyone with what they ate. And that’s ultimately what the 140 character restriction on twitter is for. Yes its nice to be concise and to the point, but there’s a limit to how much you can express your opinion about a deep issue, lets say. And it’s frustrating.

    On your second point, again, it’s the people YOU follow. It doesn’t apply to everyone. I know people who are interesting in person but post the most silliest and utterly meaningless things on twitter.

    Thirdly, no matter what you say you can’t build a relationship online, whether its someone you already know or just met. Yes, it facilitates relationships to some extent like long-distance ones. You have conversations that last until the night, comment on news and information you’ve shared, but what happens when you meet a person in life and already ran of of things to talk about? That doesn’t happen all the time, but admit it that its not as easy to start a conversation about anything because you’ve talked about pretty much everything online and its easy to get carried away.

    Ultimately, different people have different ways and reasons to use social media. Some misuse it, some don’t. Everyone has a right to choose what they like and don’t like. Your reasons are just that, yours. I wouldn’t call other peoples’ reasons “horrible cliches” You took people’s reasons for disliking social media and attempted to debunk them with your own personal reasons and preferences, which makes sense but at the end of the day they don’t apply to everybody. It also all comes down to the individual and how they choose to use these sites. When talking about social media in general, it doesn’t help to just skim the surface.

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